Bring the nature inside

There’s a difference between watching Nature, as if on a video screen, and feeling that you’re within Nature. We design all of our houses to give you that “within Nature” feeling. An owner of one of our earliest houses describes the feeling this way:

When it snows, it’s like living in a snow globe. And I no longer mind the rain, as the many windows keep it from ever getting gloomy. The overhangs prevent unwanted sun in the summer, and allow more natural light in the winter. We still pinch ourselves that we get to live here.

We cherish her words. They describe an experience we try to give all of our clients. But let’s be clear: “Nature” needn’t be vast wilderness. It can be the backyard of a lot on a city street. The key is that the design of your home gives you the sense of its rooms extending out into the larger world, just as the larger world extends into the rooms you live in. A pretty heady concept! Let us explain it by showing you how our designs engender this feeling.

When appropriate, we carry glazed openings up from the floor all the way to the ceiling. Then, when the ceiling runs unbroken out beyond the plane of the glass, the ceiling will draw your eye out past the glass—as seen here, where the small garden of lavender feels like it’s a part of the living room.

When the floor plane also extends beyond the plane of glass, this sense of extension only intensifies. You sense that the space you’re in extends as far as the floor stretches. You can imagine yourself passing through that glass wall as if it weren’t there.

Whenever we can, we like to make that imagined “passing through” a thing you can actually do. To accomplish this, we have used large, glazed panels that slide into pockets, completely disappearing.

But to really make an outdoor space feel like it’s part of the indoors, nothing’s more effective than having the “outside” push into the “inside.” The spaces feel so entwined with each other that you can’t imagine the one without also imagining the other.

When you pass into one of these indoor/outdoor spaces—being drawn there by the architecture—something magical happens. You’re in something that feels like “a room in the house,” but you’re also undeniably outdoors, experiencing the temperature, smelling the aromas, feeling the pull of the world outside: feeling like you are in that world. You are in a place that is between inside and outside.

We believe that when you feel yourself to be living within and a part of your surroundings, real benefits accrue. You notice how the light changes during the day. You notice the changes in the seasons. You get away from your screen and smell the roses—or the lavender.

 A recent client of ours describes the feeling:

Studies have shown that having access to nature can decrease stress, increase memory, and improve overall well-being. By blending the indoor and the outdoor, your home can really start to feel like a refuge.

To learn more about these ideas

> Read our recent blog post that talks about our overall approach to design.

> And watch our videos that examine some ideas central to our design thinking

Want to learn more about the concept of biophilia?

Check out this recent blog from Marvin, Biophilia Explained: The Case for Bringing Nature Inside.

Photography: Revelateur Studio and Nat Rea Photography