Thinking Beyond Walls – Designing Outside In

Posted on | September 20, 2011 | 1 Comment

Today’s outdoor space is far from what most of us knew growing up – the concrete slab with a grouping of webbed lawn chairs and a charcoal grill. For the lucky few, perhaps a kidney shaped pool. The outdoor living experience has evolved, and now includes well landscaped spaces, full kitchens, multi-season porches, seating walls, specialized water features, and elaborately built fireplaces. The architect or designer’s creative solution for this space varies from home to home.  These new ideas of what is possible have propelled this formally small market into a highly competitive industry with specialized designers, architects, craftsmen and laborers.

Outdoor Living Spaces by Shaw Presented by North Carolina Design Online Image Courtesy of Shaw Design Associates, P.A.

Recently, we had the opportunity to speak to Keith Shaw, AIA, of Shaw Design Associates, P.A., about the unique considerations involved in designing an outdoor living space.

The ideal outdoor living space celebrates nature, meets the needs of the homeowners, and gracefully incorporates the inside and the outside of the home. “The home has expanded beyond the typical exterior walls we have commonly thought of as the perimeter. Courtyards, water features and outdoor kitchens draw the homeowner outdoors to enjoy the open air,” says Shaw.  “The portable grill has been replaced with a built-in unit, and porches have been enhanced with roll down screens.”

Shaw acknowledges that outdoor living spaces need to seamlessly flow from the house—in essence extend the home itself so that there is hardly notice of the transition from inside to out and back again. “You have to make things flow well, make it comfortable,” says Shaw. “That’s the key. It’s not cozy to sit next to a two-story wall.”

Outdoor Living by Shaw Design Associates Presented by North Carolina Design OnlineImage Courtesy of Shaw Design Associates, P.A.

Even before talking about what is wanted, the architect needs to understand what is possible, and then how to maximize the natural beauty. It’s easier to plan the outdoor spaces based on the natural features that already exist. “If I’m starting to design in a custom situation, I balance the client’s needs with what the site wants me to do,” explains Shaw. “If it has a wonderful rock outcropping, I think, ‘How can these be incorporated?’”

Designing the perfect outdoor living space is a tall order.  Shaw explains that the design needs to consider form and function, doing so in a way that works for both the interior and the exterior as well as what nature has provided. Understanding the existing natural space is paramount. The topography, climate, view, water, trees and the amount of available land all need to be fully appreciated to be able to begin the process.

Outdoor Living by Shaw Design Associates Presented by North Carolina Design OnlineImage Courtesy of Shaw Design Associates, P.A.

Founded in 1995 by Keith Shaw, Raleigh architecture firm, Shaw Design Associates, P.A., is recognized for providing innovative solutions that meet the highest architectural standards.

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One Response to “Thinking Beyond Walls – Designing Outside In”

  1. Bathroom Makeover Tricks and Information
    September 24th, 2011 @ 4:47 AM

    Thank you for sharing a nice post with us

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