Make the Most of the Landscape

The beauty of any self build or major home improvement project is that you actually have a say in where your windows are positioned, rather than having to make do with what’s already there.

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.

Frame an Unexpected View

Even on the most seemingly uninspiring sites, clever orientation of windows can work wonders. For example, if your home sits on an urban plot and it is hard to balance privacy and light, roof glazing might be your best friend.

You might also want to focus your attentions on glazing parts of the house that aren’t at street level. Perhaps their is a room on an upper storey that will afford you an uninhibited views — if you are building a new home think about these spaces as you plan the position rooms.

Where overcrowding isn’t an issue, you have more room to play with how you incorporate your surroundings. 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.

tall picture window surround by books and a reading nook

Built on a tight urban plot, the home of architect-owner Cezary Bednarski (winner of HB&R’s 2012 Awards) features windows positioned to take in views of surrounding trees tops

view to sky outside from urban self build bathroom

This city build by Liddicoat & Goldhill features a glazed bathroom ceiling. This provides colour from the outside world and makes the room feel infinitely larger

Direct the Eye

A plot with jaw-dropping views really does deserve a home which takes full advantage of them. An upside-down layout works well with first floor living areas taking in the vista, ideally through walls of floor-to-ceiling glass. Frameless glazing, which offers minimal sightlines, is one way of enjoying the views uninterrupted by chunky frames.

Homes which offer a glimpse of such views shortly on arrival, perhaps drawing the eye from the front right through to the rear, can really pack the wow-factor.

Another technique is the compression/expansion effect; whereby guests enter via small, more confined spaces and are ushered to a more expansive open area.

view through beach side home to the outside

The boundaries between inside and out appear almost transparent in this contemporary home by architect Annie Martin

Varying ceiling heights and a large window are effective in this Gareth Hoskins home

Differing ceilings heights have been used for an compression/expansion effect in this self build by Gareth Hoskins Architects

OSB clad home interior with large picture windowA sloping ceiling has been used to funnel the eye towards the dramatic backdrop to this self build home by Rural Design

Blur the Lines Between Outside and Inside

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.

The DMD Group have used uninterrupted cladding and surfaces

The ‘uninterrupted’ worktop blurs the visual boundaries between the kitchen and terrace in this converted mill by David Maguire of The DMD Group. The timber-clad ceiling also projects beyond the interior and the floor inside is echoed by the outside decking

Provide a Transitional Space

A 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.

glazed roof on a sunroom leading to a garden

The latest generation of sunrooms can be combined with long lengths of sliding or folding doors which can be opened to offer a room outdoors; as is the case with Solarlux’s SDL Akzent Plus Wintergarden

contemporary home with large expanses of glazing

This modern take on the loggia, part of a contemporary extension by AR Design, creates a – useful and – seamless transition between kitchen and garden but features a frameless glazed roof, offering that all-important cover for alfresco dining

First floor veranda

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

Soften the Threshold

Steps between the house and garden create an immediate physical and visual barrier between inside and out.

A level threshold, particularly when combined with a flooring which continues from the interior out onto a patio, is a classic way of blurring the boundaries.

Using the same flooring throughout softens the threshold

Drainage requires careful attention and exterior paving should be laid to a slight fall to encourage water to run off towards your garden, rather than in to your interiors!

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