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Bringing the Outdoors In

Open floor plans make tying together inside and outside spaces a snap!

An open-concept floor plan is the preferred design style for most homeowners. This allows everyone in the house to live and socialize in one space. Recently, the trend is to extend that living space into the outdoors, especially after a year-plus of pandemic living.

“What Covid changed was bringing the outside in and the inside out,” says Annette Stahl, Realtor and designer for Stone and Story Real Estate Group. “We stayed home a lot more, so all of a sudden, our vacation spot was in our backyard. People put in an outdoor kitchen, fire pits, twinkle lights. What you would see at restaurants they created in their backyard when they couldn’t go to restaurants.”

To Amy Meeks, who moved into her home in Rock Fire at the Lake, near Lake Shawnee in 2018, an open concept inside and out helped her feel connected with her husband and six teenage kids, even when they were outside. She says, “We enjoy a lot more quality time with one another because of how our living space is laid out in combination with the outdoor space. We like to entertain and want to be the place where people want to come over.”

When Martha and Marc Lutz selected their Rock Fire home in 2019, the connection between indoors and outdoors was also paramount. Martha explains, “When you want an open concept, you need to know how you want to live in your house. I wanted a porch I could drink coffee on and a screened-in porch I could drink wine on.”

How do you bring the outdoors into your living space? Here are some tips Stahl suggests:

1. Look at sightlines. Stand at one end of your indoor living space and notice what you can see. That’s where you need to focus.

2. Pick a flow-through paint color to create a cohesive feel. “Pick one simple, neutral color to be the main color throughout the space,” Stahl says. “For example, if the outside of the house is gray, then pick a shade of gray inside. I like our outside and insides to flow because then when we design the spaces, it’s easier. We’re dealing with the same main color to build on.”

3. Choose warm or cool color groups, or pick three colors you’ll use in varying hues and textures. Stahl notes, “People ask me lots about color because that’s their biggest worry. What if I get it wrong? If you get yourself dressed in the morning, you can do color.”

Stahl also recommends colors and styles tied to the natural elements of earth, wood, air, and water. “We feel the most at home when we can bring nature into our lives,” she says.

 4. Analogous colors, which are adjacent on the color wheel, create a calm feeling, while complementary colors across the wheel create contrast. For example, calming blue, green, and purple are together on the wheel. If you want a little excitement, pick a complementary color to go with them, such as orange or yellow.

“You want to feel yourself,” she says. “How do you want to feel? Once you pick your color families, those are what’s going to flow and make everything tie from the inside to out.”

5. Accent colors can pull the space together. “While the base colors stay the same, the accent colors in accessories can change for the seasons or feelings,” Stahl says.

6. Textiles like rugs, sofas, pillows, and blankets, or anything soft, will absorb sound, giving both indoor and outside spaces a more cozy, homey feel.

Finally, Stahl advises, “It’s less about looking like a magazine and more about supporting the life you want to live.”

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