Bringing the Outside In

Home design no longer stops at the walls. A national shift in architectural design is emerging with a more intense focus on incorporating the outdoor landscape environment with the inner design space.

Blank walls, once reserved for paintings, pictures, and entertainment centers, are giving way to large window units and double-wide glass doorways that open to allow the flow of the home to merge with the outer patio spaces and gardens. Solid, static walls are being eliminated to make way for design elements, whether in the living room, kitchen or bedroom, that allow the light, colors, shapes and sounds of the garden to become an integral aspect of the home.

For hundreds of years, Japanese home design has recognized the importance of allowing for the seamless transition from inside space to outside space. They recognized that the beauty and energy of the garden is a vital element that must be incorporated, not kept separate from the overall home design.

Landscape designers also have recognized the importance of designing the landscape as an essential part of the home. The garden experience is no longer limited to time spent in the garden, but also while one is cooking dinner, taking a shower, relaxing on the couch, or having a meal.

Hardscapes have become a crucial element in the landscape. Hardscapes elements include patios, pathways, rock walls, boulder formations, and waterscapes. Also arbors, pergolas, decks, grilling areas, fire pits and other design elements support the transition from the inside to the out. Lighting also is important in extending and enhancing the visual impact of your garden, as well as assisting in safely enjoying your garden in the evening hours.

Just as a home design focuses on color and textures for the home, the outside design must include these as well. Rock formations can anchor, frame, or draw the viewer’s eye to an intended spot with ease. Large boulders give a sense of permanence and age to a garden.

Waterscapes give motion and sound and sparkle to the landscape. The moving water offers a soothing, relaxing element that reminds most of us of a past peaceful experience we’ve had in nature. The sound and movement of a waterfall and stream acts as a bridge between the outside and inside environments. Fish and water plants add another dimension, another layer of interest, which draws us from the home to the garden.

This design trend is creating a demand for landscape contractors that have the skills and equipment to design and build these water features and hardscape elements. Waterspirit  specializes in creative landscape construction and is expert in creating this new level of landscape design and installation.

“There are so many aspects to consider when properly designing and constructing landscape environments. Construction skills become important. Knowledge of stone, concrete, carpentry, waterscapes, along with drainage systems, irrigation, and lighting are essential. Having the right equipment such as backhoes, concrete mixers, and large trucks are vital. And it’s crucial that you have a talented and experienced crew.”

Interior design aspects tend to remain fixed, but the beauty of the external environment is that it is ever changing. The colors and shapes of the plantings, whether they are large trees or small annuals, will offer continual interest to our eyes. As the seasons change, so will the landscape. As time goes by and the garden matures, different scenes will evolve. Birds and other critters that begin to visit the garden will continually add new interest as well as keeping us enchanted and connnected to the natural world.

As our world gets more hectic, people across the country are choosing to stay closer to home. That choice leads to the desire to create a complete environment that not only shelters us but rejuvenates and restores us. When designing a new house or remodeling an older home, don’t forget to include a place for Mother Nature in your design.


Steven Robbat is president of Waterspirit, Inc. an Asheville, North Carolina based company specializing in the design and installation of waterscapes for the past 28 years in the Southland as well as in Hawaii, California and Colorado. Their telephone number is: (828) 273-4342.