Welcome to Second Nature, a Q+A series with Jute founder, Ali Davin, that explores all things healthy living, with a fond emphasis on that thing she does best—interior design.
Picture this: there’s a fire in the fireplace, you’ve just made a drink at the wet bar, and now you’re sitting down to relax on your sofa. But you’re not in your house—you’re in your outside living room.
Your home is more than just the space inside its walls. By integrating your indoor and outdoor environments, you can expand your living space while enjoying a little fresh air.
It’s a movement that people are thinking about their homes as indoor and outdoor environments. In South America and Europe, people have been living that way for hundreds of years, but it’s just catching on in America. To me, it’s a huge part of how someone experiences their home, so we incorporate it in our design.
We look at the sightline from the interior—the house is the starting point, and the entertaining spaces inside flow into those outside. We do a lot of pocket doors, so there’s no wall between the indoor and outdoor. Usually you want the outdoor dining area in proximity to the indoor kitchen or, if you have one, the outdoor kitchen.
Oh yes. There’s almost always a deck or terraces, but also a pool and maybe a pool house. We do outdoor kitchens and bars, dining areas, living areas, a fire pit, potting sheds…. Our biggest project right now has 13 structures total. But no matter the size, our goal is to make it intimate, on a human scale.
We apply the same logic inside to outside. You want it to feel cozy, not like you’re sitting on some random chair outside. You want to actually use the space. So we’ll do a few different outdoor living rooms throughout the property where people can feel that they have a private place, but everything still flows.
We do a lot of different moments to define a space, like a fireplace with a reeded structure overhead, built-in concrete seating with pillows, or inlaid stone on the ground that functions as a rug. We use potted plants and trees to make natural walls if there are none, and pendant lights to anchor the space overhead. We try to integrate materials that are prevalent to the site so it looks natural.
In general, you do the opposite of what you do inside the house—instead of moving toward the light, you move away from it. You want naturally protected areas so you don’t have to erect massive structures to shade yourself. We try to build into the landscape so the areas are shaded by trees, or we’ll position them in the shadow of the house. That’s how humans have designed their homes since the beginning of time.
You can set up an area right next to your house, using the exterior wall to anchor the space. You can add sconces to make it feel intimate, do a treatment on the wall or add a trellis with a plant growing on it, or do a whole row of potted plants to define the space and make it feel like a destination. It doesn’t need to be huge—it should just feel cozy and inviting, like you want to hang out there.
Orient outdoor spaces to naturally utilize shade.