Outdoor Living Spaces

The glorious days of summer are upon us with impromptu gatherings of family and friends, our thoughts gravitate towards moving into our outdoor ” Living Room”.

More and more, people are treating outdoor spaces as true extensions of their homes, turning porches, patios, pools and gardens into a living environments filled with fresh breezes and open skies.

My first memory of an outdoor living space was my parent’s screen porch. I grew up in a classic Georgian colonial with the porch off the living room. Lots of crisp white trim, painted bead board ceiling, fieldstone floor and wrought iron furniture, and the ever present green cushions with white trim.  From May through October, we found any excuse to spend time in this one room from intimate breakfasts in the morning, to reading a book or playing a board game lit by candles nestled in hurricanes.

Below is a lovely example of a screened in porch from architect Gil Schafer, from his recent publication, The Great American House. His collaboration with talented interior designer,  Miles Redd, who so effectively portrays the indoor/outdoor living room elements with its comfortable upholstery, a classic mixture of tea stained wicker and cushions in a timeless green and white.   I especially love the additional texture of the sisal carpet on the painted floor matched with the scorched bamboo end tables and the carefully placed accessories and the ubiquitous  use of greenery to bring the outside indoors.


Another perfect example is, the tasteful screen porch of Charlotte Moss‘s summer house in the Hampton’s. The room is filled with black stained rattan pieces matched with cushions in a large scale mono print.  The color accents of coral, as well as the textural seaside accessories with their delicate nature make a wonderful juxtaposition to the stone fireplace and floor.


In a more modern setting, basic hardscapes take on a larger role in creating an effective outdoor space by using raw materials in their natural form.  Many times this choice renders the designer’s decision to introduce materials like stone in a large scale or incorporate metals to give a hard edge in creating a minimalist environment with minimal care. These elements take on a life of their own enabling the furniture and fabrics complement one another.

I recently saw this picture below, of an outdoor living space from Ferguson and Shamamian who made a bold architectural statement with the use of full timbers to define the seating area while retaining the feel of a room with French doors and skylights is very effective.  The use of limestone for the flooring, the plinth over the door and fireplace mantel is a stunning counterpoint to the wood.


In the exclusive Windsor community, this property has the luxury of two private living spaces. The home’s numerous French doors draw the visitor towards the pool with dining and sitting areas that create quintessential outdoor living room.  The strong squared columns as well as the coffered ceiling create a crisp clean environment.


The property’s west elevation has the benefit of the massive columns and pergola to frame the sitting area which allows the bougainvillea to climb up the columns to give the space a sense of a luscious garden setting.

Jane new shot

A timeless classic is the covered porch with Doric columns which evokes the old stylistic sense of symmetry and balance by using traditional materials.

The much photographed home of Carolyn Roehm’s Weatherstone, we see an example of achieving the ultimate classic ideal in complete harmony with nature.  The porch features such timeless material as antique brick in the iconic double woven basket weave edged with slabs of bluestone, the bead board ceiling and the row of wrought iron lanterns. I can imagine many an evening spent sitting out with nature’s sounds or an Al Fresco dinner overlooking her memorable gardens.


Below are two perfect examples of designing an exterior living space as though it were your interior living room by simply adding window treatments. Both solutions create an inviting environment without making one feel cramped, especially with the new fabrics offered from the design houses. We are fortunate their trend towards indoor/outdoor fabrics has taken on a new life, with the use of colorful and playful patterns and textures.

The strength of the charcoal and white striped pattern that seems to dominate the outdoor space becomes muted by the drape of the curtains which act to soften but define the sitting spaces.


This outdoor space uses the texture of the brick and the  Palladian doors to dictate  the selection of furnishings. I love the neutral play with the chunky wicker, bleached wood coffee table, and limestone dining table.  The addition of the striped curtains tied back in the same color as the Brighton style planters makes the living space calm and inviting.


In closing, these inspirational photos should delight all who look forward to the summer months and  bringing the outside to your home.

We invite to take a look at our new website at janeellsworthinteriors.com

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