The 2019 Supreme Guide to Indoor-Outdoor Living

Over the years, outdoor living spaces have come a long way in terms of design. What once was a space to store the grill and place a plastic picnic set has evolved to lavishly landscaped patios, ornate outdoor family rooms and beautiful spots for “backyard staycations.”

With summer dreams of long weekends, warming temps and outdoor living, it's no surprise top searches for Pinterest users were up +2100% for “outdoor living areas,” and “swimming pool designs.” 

Miller & Smith Upper West

Miller & Smith, the Washington region's most award-winning homebuilder, outlines six helpful tips and trends for creating a supreme indoor-outdoor summer oasis:

1. Plan for privacy – As site plans keep homes close together in new neighborhoods, creating privacy is the biggest challenge for designing a seamless indoor-outdoor experience. Homeowners and buyers can enjoy better backyard privacy with some creative solutions including: a living fence with well-planned hedges, tall decorative planters along the property, a vertical garden with vegetables, herbs or flowering plants or even a few opaque outdoor panel curtains can create a much-needed hidden sanctuary.

2. Blur the lines – Big glass and high ceilings go a long way in designing a sun-drenched room and blurring the lines between indoors and out. Many homebuyers opt for glass doors and bay windows, but transom windows are also back in a big way. The age-old architectural element is traditionally seen above entry doors and is used to bring in extra light. Today, transoms are now featured below windows to brighten any and every room.  

Miller & Smith Brambleton

3. Mind the gap – Flooring materials are also used to seamlessly merge indoor and outdoor living spaces. Changing the floor material or adding steps between spaces, often adds a physical and visual break in the design. Many designers suggest using a material that can be used for both spaces to ensure as little division as possible between inside and out. Just as the connection in flooring is important for flow, consistency in ceiling height and material will also marry indoor and outdoor spaces effortlessly.

4. Above and beyond – While roof terraces are trending across all price points and house types, more defined, intimate spaces are on the up for design, affordability and practicality of construction. Three-season rooms with small overhead details and features – such as a trellis, shade device, canopy or punched opening – offer big impact design for indoor-outdoor spaces. At Miller & Smith’s latest model, Uptown at One Loudoun, homeowners can enjoy seamless, flexible indoor-outdoor living with a spacious outdoor covered terrace on the main level. Owners can partially enclose the terrace to create an interior lounge and additional entertainment space.

Miller and Smith Upper West

5. Move toward maintenance-free – Indoor-outdoor living can be simple but offers elemental challenges. In designing a three-season room, one should consider access to maintenance space for power washing and snow removal, while making preparations for inclement weather and high wind. In terms of furnishings, indoor-style, composite furniture such as sofas, lounge chairs and end tables are notoriously maintenance free, fade resistant and easy on the eyes. Want the feel of the outdoors without all the work? Look to earth tone decorative features, oversized statement patterns, lush greenery and big leaves to keep indoor to outdoor living cohesive.  

 Whitney Model at One Loudoun for Miller & Smith

6. Sound to sleep – While fireplaces, kitchen spaces and TVs are the most selected features for outdoor spaces, integrated sound systems and sleeping porches are now topping the list for homebuyer must-haves in the mid-Atlantic. Sleeping porches date back to the early 20th century as air conditioning was uncommon in homes until after World War II. The old-fashioned idea of cozying up on a screened-in porch with a summer cross breeze is making a comeback with southern and west coast transplants often requesting the bedroom-style outdoor space.

 Interiors and Exteriors of the Windfaire Model at Walhaven for Miller & Smith
 Interiors and Exteriors of the Windfaire Model at Walhaven for Miller & Smith
Brittanie Clement