Skip to main content

Bringing the Outside In: 15 Genius Design Ideas

bank of bifold door on single storey extension
(Image credit: Origin)

Bringing the outside in is an increasingly popular goal for homeowners who not only want to maximise natural light in their home, but also make the most of their surroundings and embrace some wow-factor design too.

Whether you are renovating, extending or building from scratch, make sure you consider bringing the outside in at the design stage of your project. This may inform where you choose to position your windows, or your choice of door, through to whether you decide to add a balcony or roof lantern to really make the most of your new space.

If creating a stronger link between garden and home is high up on your wish list, introduce the natural world into your home with these brilliant design ideas.

1. Add a Covered Terrace to Bring the Outside In

solar panels on roof of clad home with rooflights and roof terrace

(Image credit: Stuart Cox)

The upside-down nature of this rural self build by Western Design Architects lends itself to a terrace with a retractable covering. The garden design by Caroline de Lane Lea means that the second-terrace sits level with the natural slope of the land.

2. Consider Bringing the Outside In with a Courtyard Layout

courtyard with throughview

(Image credit: Alex James)

Where garden views are limited, including a courtyard in the layout of a home can provide natural light to otherwise dark rooms. This self build by De Rosee Sa was designed for a narrow, deep plot and features three internal courtyards.

(MOREHomes that embrace a courtyard layout)

3. On a Tight Plot, Bring the Outside In with an Outdoor Room

indoor outdoor space on a tight plot

(Image credit: Yellow Cloud Studio)

Not everyone has the gift of a generous garden so what do you do when faced with a tiny plot and a desire to connect with the outside? This small Yellow Cloud Studio extension makes the most of the space and uses matching materials (like the exposed brick) to create the illusion of an extended inside/outside room.

Choosing a similar palette of materials in the garden to those on show in the house is one way of making the immediate landscaping feel integral to the interiors — and not an afterthought.

4. Blur the Boundaries Between Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

covered integral seating, wrapped in light larch cladding, is cut from the main living spaces

(Image credit: Yellow Cloud Studio)

Careful sequencing of internal and external spaces in this home creates a series of seamless transitions. Designed by Yellow Cloud Studio, the covered integral seating, wrapped in light larch cladding, is cut from the main living spaces, playing with the home’s boundaries.

5. Choose an Earthy Colour Scheme to Bring the Outside In

open plan kitchen diner extension

(Image credit: Martin Moore)

This 1930s house has been transformed with the addition of a light-filled kitchen/diner extension. The connection to the sky via the roof lantern and the garden is carried into the earthy colour scheme in the kitchen (designed by Martin Moore).

6. Use a Through-View to Bring the Outside Deep Into the Floorplan

snug with throughview to garden

(Image credit: Jack Hobhouse)

The expansive glass roof to this London home means that even the snug, sat deep in the plan, doesn’t feel alienated from the outside spaces. Through-views connect this more private, cosy area to the rest of the home with an open doorway cleverly mirroring the form of the extension, designed by RISE Design Studio.

(MOREGreat Home Design Ideas)

7. A Wall of Glazing is a Great Way of Bringing the Outside In

bank of bifold door on single storey extension

(Image credit: Origin)

The latest ‘must-have’ in modern properties is a wall of glazing which can be completely peeled back to open a room up for summer. Here, large format bifold doors by Origin blur the boundaries between the interior and the great outdoors.

Avoid the physical barrier of steps between the house and garden and instead consider a level threshold as a classic way of blurring the boundaries between inside and out.

8. Mirror Materials Inside and Out for a Cohesive Space

continued materials from living room to outdoor creates a seamless space

(Image credit: Porcelanosa)

Mirroring or continuing materials, such as flooring or cladding, both inside and out can create a seamless transition between the spaces. Matt tiles such as the Metropolitan Caliza from Porcelanosa are ideal for a slip resistant finish.

9. Don’t Forget to Bring the Outside In on the First Floor

bedroom with glass balcony

(Image credit: Carme Aguayo)

Designing a bedroom with a balcony is a wonderful way of building in an aura of tranquillity. In this scheme, designed by William Tozer Associates, the understated glass balcony almost appears invisible — providing uninterrupted views of the trees and landscape beyond.

10. Don’t Just Think Laterally: Bring in Light from Above

roof lantern brings in light from above in this living dining space

(Image credit: Westbury Garden Rooms)

We tend to think laterally when it comes to connecting with the outdoors, but embracing views and light from above us equally important; this stunning roof lantern captures a view of the clouds in this cosy living/dining space created by Westbury Garden Rooms.

11. Bring the Outside In by Turning Your View into Artwork

If you’re looking to transform an existing home, there’s a temptation to gravitate towards the back of the house when trying to create a connection with the outdoors. Here, Mulroy Architects‘ design includes beautiful picture windows with slim sightlines in the bedrooms and bathrooms, meaning the influence of natural light and the views is felt throughout the house, rather than exclusively on the ground floor.

picture windows in child's bedroom

(Image credit: Joakim Boren)

Positioning windows exactingly is, in many ways, an art form, as capturing the best views from the inside will, after all, have a big impact on how the house will look from the outside. Marrying up the two is where talented architects and designers come into their own.

Framing a view works particularly well in contemporary, minimalist interiors, where vibrant views serve to inject a burst of colour and texture. When the exterior is framed from inside, the views are the only artwork you’ll need on your walls.

A long window could be the perfect frame for a landmark or tree, and if you sit in rolling hills, a narrow horizontal window at head height will really draw the eye.

12. Bring the Outside In All Year Round

orangery that can be enjoyed all year round

(Image credit: Westbury Garden Rooms)

An orangery can maximise views while still providing the comfort of an indoor area; summer only lasts so long and having a space that can be used year round should be a priority. In this orangery by Westbury Garden Rooms, exposed brick walls give the illusion of an outside area while the room is still very much a part of the main house.

13. Consider Biophilic Design When Bringing the Outside In

picture windows in home office embrace biophilic design

(Image credit: French + Tye)

Biophilic design is gaining momentum as an interior design buzzword of 2019. It relates to the human instinct to interact with nature and the associated health benefits. Improving air circulation and quality, and a home’s connection with nature through incorporating plants, green roofs and living walls into domestic design, are all ideas.

Here a light-filled, healthy workspace has been created in this MW Architects-designed mini extension, which beautifully connects the interior space with views of the garden.

14. Use Seamless Screening to Only Bring the Outside In When You Want

the discreet screening system from Centor retracts completely into the doorframe when not in use

(Image credit: Centor)

Wide expanses of glazing are a must-have for many of us, but finding a window treatment — to block out glare from the sun or to draw for privacy at night — can be a challenge; traditional dressings such as curtains can look too fussy. This is one ingenious solution: the discreet screening system from Centor retracts completely into the doorframe when not in use. There is also an insect screen option available.

15. Bring the Outside In With a Transitional Space

first floor veranda off a living room

This first floor veranda leads off a living room and is the perfect spot to enjoy a morning coffee – and those rural views – regardless of the weather (Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

sunroom or conservatory is a traditional way of connecting a home with its garden.

Adding a loggia or veranda – which offers a covered space but is open to the elements on one or more sides – is another way of creating continuation.