Indoors and Outdoors are traditionally two very different spaces. Typically, the indoors are draped with soft and comfortable materials while the outdoors are “littered” with hard and weather resistant household items. There is of course, the laundry that space constrained cities such as Singapore would use outdoor spaces for. 🙂 The purpose for the two spaces are technically also very different. Indoor spaces had been the center of urbanized living where all modern gadgets would reside. Outdoor spaces would usually be populated with simple stuffs such as a couple of chairs with a small table or more frequently, heaps of gardening.
The Indoors: Luxurious, Soft and Filled with Delicate Finishing (Picture from Naharro.com)
The Outdoors: Hard Wearing, Durable and Heaps of Gardening (Pictures from ILoveDesignerFurniture.co.uk)
So, what can we do with a fairly small outdoor space such as a balcony in an apartment/condominium in Singapore? We could do just the above or make full use of the little outdoor space that we have. Of course, the lucky ones owning luxurious penthouses with large roof top terraces, patio unit, or even landed home owners would be endowed with a outdoor space to do wonderful landscapes and create a luscious green at their doorsteps. For the small balconies that the rest of us have, we could blend the two traditionally different spaces into one. There are two ways to do it, either by bringing the outdoors into the indoors, or my preferred way, bringing the indoors to the outdoors. When I say bringing the indoors to the outdoors, I do not mean the simple way of window paneling your balcony and make the outdoor space become part of your indoor space. What I meant was to bring the traditionally luxurious and delicate indoor feel to the outdoor space.
I don’t mean paneling up your balconies and make it part of your indoor space (Picture from Diaspora)
Since bringing the indoors to the outdoors is my preferred style, I shall start with this. There are several things that we can do to bring the feeling of indoors out to the open space. The first thing is to soften the outdoor space with literally soft material. The dilemma is of course, traditional luxurious materials fabrics, leathers and wood are not meant to take the punishment of the sunshine and rain, especially in tropical Singapore. There are however, materials that could provide both the softness of a cushion and still withstand the heat and the water. I am looking at water repellent polyester fiber covers. These fabrics are treated with a water repellent coating so that water would just run over when it come into contact.
B&B Italia Husk Outdoor variant comes with water repellent polyester fibre fabric covers and a plastic shell (Picture from B&B Italia Webpage)
The second thing that could be done would be to use outdoor furniture in the guise of traditionally indoor furniture. A perfect example would be an outdoor sofa or lounge chair with soft cushions covered with weather resistant covers.
Sofa and Lounge Chair in an Outdoor Deck softens the whole outdoor look (Picture from Houzz)
The third thing that we could do is to use a common floor material and extend it outwards to the balcony. We could either use aritficial or natural wood deckings that are heat and water resistant or stone tiles from the interior space. Wood are commonly found in the interiors as furnishing or flooring. Having a wooden deck in the balcony helps bring out the warmth and luxury of the interior to the open space. Using the same stone tiles could sometimes do the reverse and bring the outdoors to the indoors if the stone tiles are matt finished which is usually the case for outdoor flooring (to avoid the risk of slipping).
Using Wood deckings and weather proof wood-based materials in furnishing (Picture from Houzz).
The above mentioned are just some of the methods that could be employed and there are a lot more that professional designers would be able to come up with. I would like to share a particular design that I had found on Houzz, one of the best resource website I could find.
The beautiful outdoor space designed by Coffman Studio is a perfect example of bringing the indoors to the outdoors. It uses several approaches in achieving the perfect results. Coffman Studio uses soft materials, wood decking, uniform stone tiles to create a smooth transition from the indoors to the outdoors and they throw in traditionally indoor furnishing such as sofas, lounge chairs, even a fire place in the open. Flat Adirondack Rocker Chairs that were made of plastics (even though it looked like wood) were used in the lounge area around the fire place. This created the sense of warmth that would otherwise be felt only in the interiors. The designers cleverly added a roofed outdoor dining area as an intermediate transition point between the true indoor space and outdoor space and thrown in some mixes of greenery to define the outdoor space and still retain the feeling of a Living Room and Lounge. This is by far, my favourite design. Of course, a large space is still necessary to accomplish such designs.
Coffman Studio’s work of wonder in bringing the Indoors to the Outdoors (Picture from Houzz)
Next up is doing the reverse, by bringing the outdoors into the interior space. In my opinion, this could be achieved a lot easier than the opposite. The easiest way would be to bring greenery straight into the living room. With the entry of artificial turf into the market, designers were given even greater freehand in developing their creativity as they could add “grass patches in the living room besides plants. Personally, I would create a landscape of topiary with artifical plants and turfs; and really build a garden within the interior living space. As you would had guessed, outdoor furniture would now be brought into the interior space.
I do not have the perfect picture for this, as not many would had done this. The below picture actually brings the indoor space to the outdoors very well. So well that with the accompanying steps, it would look great in indoor spaces too. Just imagine the outdoor wooden sofas and lounge chairs together with outdoor wooden floors and large pots of topiary laid in your interior. It would looked very much like the picture with the exception of a roof over your head.
Bringing Gardens into the House (Picture from Houzz)
On a larger scale, the entire garden landscape could even be brought indoors as with the example below.
Bringing Outdoors to the Indoors with Artificial Turf (Picture from prweb.com)
The ultimate form for me would be to complete the landscaping and blend the two spaces perfectly. However, to maximize the effects, a large outdoor space would be required. The open terrace landscaping done in the picture below transits between the two spaces by using elements of the outdoors in part of the indoor wood flooring. I would think that it would work well with the interiors with some small pots of topiary and the use of a single colour tone to bind the indoor and outdoor furnishing together. This, of course, would not work with small outdoor spaces for most of us. This is why I prefer the bringing the larger indoor space in most apartments in Singapore, to the outdoors. It is always easier to influence the design of a smaller space with a larger space rather than vice versa. 🙂
Complete the Landscape (Picture from Houzz)