Nearly three years ago, the world shut down and everyone was forced to transform their homes into their offices, school rooms, living spaces, and more. For many, that meant prioritizing indoor/outdoor compatible designs to maximize the living space they had available. While indoor/outdoor living might have been seen as trendy at the time, it’s now firmly placed itself as a dominant design principle.
For some, indoor/outdoor living has always been part of what they do, as dictated by the climate. Shaolin Low, principal and founder of Studio Shaolin, is Hawaii-based and has always had designs flow from the need to live both inside and outside. She expects even those in less temperate climates will continue to emphasize indoor/outdoor living. “I think now that everyone knows what it’s like to be home all day every day, we are all valuing nature and fresh air more. In my mind, it’s an absolute must-have—even if it’s just a balcony space in a condo. It can make a huge difference.”
Amber Gizzi, president of Pineapple House Interior Design, agrees. She has a lot of clients willing to spend on the outdoor element to make the outside feel as lived-in as the inside. “There are still lots of people putting in pools, TVs outside, and outdoor dining,” she says. “Outdoor living spaces are getting more comfortable and inviting rather than just durable.”
All three designers like to accomplish indoor/outdoor living through the smart use of textiles and texture, with an emphasis on construction. Gizzi notes that outdoor rugs and fabrics have come a long way and are innovative and soft, which lend themselves to a more “at home” feeling.
See also: 5 Must-Know Outdoor Rug Facts
Jenny Thomas, principal and owner of J. Thomas Designs notes that an outdoor space isn’t complete without a rug and that rugs are often starting points. “A rug immediately creates a sense of bringing the indoors out—a sense of having an actual living space outside that is almost as comfortable as your indoor space. The extension of your home into the outside is taken up a notch by having that space finished as if it were an indoor room,” she says.
Durability Matters Too
In textiles and construction, Low is excited about how durable products are today and that clients and designers love the innovation. “I think everyone is more interested in sustainable and durable options,” she says, citing things like marine-grade rope, non-rusting stainless steel, concrete furniture, and more. There are always specific considerations to take into account, such as the humidity and mold common in Low’s Hawaiian climate. “We make sure we’re picking pieces that can handle a lot of rain and a lot of sun. Durability is always key,” she says.
See also: Life Alfresco: The Indoor/Outdoor Guide
Gizzi, who does a lot of work in Florida, says she looks into the materials to eliminate potential issues like rust or quick wear, but it depends on the space’s construction too. “If the space is well covered, we’ll go for comfort with nice materials and lots of comfortable seating,” she says. Upholstered ottomans have been a go-to for her lately. If the space is not covered, Gizzi has a caveat on what to do. “I personally think it’s completely unreasonable to expect people to pick up all their cushions if it’s going to rain, and they just get ruined if you don’t. I always recommend furniture with slings or no cushions, which have actually come a long way and there are comfortable options.”
Thomas thinks about durability in these terms, as well as the lifestyle of the clients when choosing furniture and textiles. “If you have a dog that has previously chewed furniture, we make a plan and try to prevent that from happening again,” she says. “Or if you have children and they will be eating popsicles, then we look carefully at the fabric choices to make sure it will be easily cleaned.”
Add Modern Touches
Thomas says to not be afraid to get experimental in the indoor details brought outside. She’s seen an uptick in requests for rechargeable mini lamps lately. “They come in so many cute shapes and fun colors, and they are a great way to add ambiance to a space where it might be difficult to wire for permanent or plugged lighting,” she says. She’s also seen requests for lots of firepits that can take the same outdoor space from day to night.
Go with the Flow
To Low, a good indoor/outdoor living space is all about offering maximized flow, comfort, and usage—however that manifests for her particular clients. She thinks about who will be using the space and how. “The needs of a young family are greatly different from the needs of an older couple,” she says, “so we look at who is sharing the outdoor space. It’s crucial in designing it.”
See also: How To Brings The Outdoors In
Thomas designs thoughtfully for the client and space, whether that be a tiny balcony space or a vast lawn and patio. A client recently downsized to a small condo, and they had to get creative with the space. “Her first idea was to add artificial turf to create a miniature outdoor space. Even in that tiny space, it is still important to make it the best it can be so you want to use it. I don’t think every outdoor space has to be over the top,” she says.
It’s Only the Beginning for Outdoors
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that homes need to be maximized as best as possible, whether you’re using them as offices and school spaces or just for family needs. The outdoor category is growing and is impacting the way designers and clients conceptualize space as families and individuals become more comfortable with the idea of being home more often.
Comfort, naturally, is key. “I think comfort is more important because people are actually using their outdoor living spaces to watch movies or live how they would inside. In addition to softer rugs and fabrics, people want nice outdoor upholstery that is actually comfortable for hours of use,” says Gizzi. Thomas adds, “Outdoor living is a growing category and I cannot wait to see how many new products are introduced in the next five years. Outdoor living is here to stay, whether you have a tiny home or acres of outdoor space.”
The designers reveal their top Jaipur Living picks—from high luster indoor rugs to practically beautiful outdoor options.
“Fontaine is of my favorites. The natural fibers, texture, and the overall mellow but present pattern, are so perfect for a space that has a lot going on.”
“I like Terra because it’s neutral enough to not steal the show, but has the warmth to bring two wood tones together.”
“Mahaba’s pattern is beautiful, but also feels really nice under your feet, even though it’s an outdoor rug.”
“I’m still loving the fresh takes on traditional rugs, especially in unexpected or muted colors like Citrine. We’ve done a lot of nurseries the past year and adding in some grown-up touches makes for a cute space that won’t be grown out of as quickly.”
“Natural textures and materials are not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s amazing what adding something natural touches does for a room—like this Saba Stool.”
“Rather than almost everyone wanting neutrals, it’s more expected for our clients to want some color right now. Pillows like the Groove are the easiest way to ease people into brighter colors since they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to replace.”
“I love the Brevin rug because it offers enough texture to be interesting, but is also forgiving because as we all know accidents happen. It brings in a soft color that allows for your accessories and accent pillows to be the focal point.”
“Fresno is a great rug for a house with darker exterior colors, like a lake or a mountain home. It brings in a soft geometric pattern that is punchy but not overpowering. The darker color and pattern will hide a lot!”
“Be right back, ordering Polaris for myself! If you know me at all, you know I love color. This rug is a great example of using a portion of an older design, blowing it up, and running it in a bold color scheme. I also love the aging on this rug, which softens the bold colors enough to have them blend in with many different spaces.”
“Montara is a fantastic woven option if you love sisal rugs but have kids or dogs as this one would be low maintenance. This rug brings in great visual texture and adds interest within the neutral color palette.”