We Australians love our outdoor lifestyle, so much so that many of our homes reflect this passion with designs that facilitate ‘inside–outside’ living.
When your home’s architecture meets and merges with its surrounding landscape, interior and exterior spaces fuse to become ‘transterior’ – a design concept that delivers countless rewards.
Taking this trend to the next level, the ‘transterior’ space is a hot topic for architects, landscapers, interior designers, and homeowners. This new concept – the brainchild of designer and environmentalist Jamie Durie and associate Nadine Bush – describes the spaces where a home’s interior and exterior merge.
The transterior approach involves more than the simple addition of indoor plants and outdoor furniture. You take man-made interior features outside and bring natural exterior elements inside to blur boundaries, thereby creating cohesive spaces that go beyond the transitional to the functional and comfortable.
Of course, improving your home’s practicality and aesthetic appeal only increases its value, and opening up new living areas is of particular benefit to a small house or block. What’s really surprising is that transterior spaces can also transform your lifestyle and your health.
Going greening is good for well-being
A growing body of research reveals that spending more time in green spaces delivers enormous mental and physical rewards. The simple pleasure of immersing ourselves in nature can enhance mood; sharpen thinking and memory; improve performance, satisfaction, and creativity; and alleviate stress, fatigue, and pain. Studies also show that just being in natural surrounds can boost immunity and reduce the inflammation associated with some diseases.
With such huge benefits on offer, it’s no wonder our interest in greening indoor spaces is peaking. Having emerged partly as an antidote to our busy cyber lifestyles, the movement to reconnect with the natural world is much more than a passing fad.
In fact, in our efforts to embrace a cleaner, healthier lifestyle, many of us are transforming our homes into ‘living sanctuaries’ – places where we can relax, play, socialise, and live well.
Merging our home living spaces
If you’re lucky enough to live on Sydney’s lower north shore you already enjoy an abundance of green outdoor spaces. But does your reflect this, or does your property lack light, space, greenery, or flow?
Many heritage houses in Mosman, for example, tend to be overly dark and enclosed. Whether you’re considering a renovation or some transterior tweaks, the following ideas can help.
1. Seamless boundaries
Blur the division between inside and outside with sliding pocket doors, and retractable walls and roofs. Seamless flooring is crucial to transterior design, so the material across thresholds should be the same (or very similar).
To create a unified space, take your cue from your home’s interior features – see which of them would complement the exterior, and vice versa. Harmony is vital here; neither space should dominate.
2. Customised outdoor areas
Grow your love of al fresco dining and socialising by installing functional areas. A complete or partial outdoor kitchen, complete with relevant appliances, expands your entertaining areas and extends your home’s floor plan.
Just remember that any working area should integrate into your home’s current landscaping. Why not consider taking more-private rooms outside? An outdoor shower makes a home feel like a resort, and sleeping under the stars in summer is heaven.
3. Cosy outdoor ‘rooms’
To truly take the inside-outside and lounge comfortably in the open air, style exterior spaces with interior furnishings. You can now choose from home accessories that are both aesthetically pleasing and weather-resistant – think rugs, ottomans, throw pillows, blankets, and side tables.
Enhance the ambience with strategic lighting and a quality entertainment system. To create an even cosier interior feel, frame spaces with appropriate forms of shelter. Gazebos and pergolas, for instance, provide both comfort and protection from the elements. The more inviting the space, the more time you’ll spend outside.
4. Indoor flora
Potted plants may be the current craze, but the new feature wall is a vertical garden. A living green wall is also an opportunity to introduce complementary natural materials, such as unusual timbers.
On a smaller scale, bring nature inside with a bed of microgreens in the kitchen, a herb garden on the window sill, or lush palms in the bedroom. Balcony and rooftop veggie gardens have been gaining ground for some time, but growing plants indoors eliminates the problems of climate issues and pests.
5. Raw materials
Moving away from the severe look of concrete and geometric forms, the transterior trend embraces natural, locally sourced, and handmade materials. Stone and wood, along with woven textures on floors and walls (like seagrass matting and bamboo) lend rooms a calm, contemplative atmosphere.
To take this organic approach to home decor outdoors, make practical use of any existing natural structures, such as tree stumps and rock formations. These can make attractive and effective chairs, tables, and shelves, and they often work well with upcycled furniture.
6. Sustainable practices
Want to ensure your living sanctuary is eco-friendly? The move towards ‘clean’ eating has seen many people plant seasonal vegetable gardens and low-maintenance native flora. (Growing natives will ensure your home is also friendly to birds and other wildlife.)
To minimise your home’s footprint, embrace technologies such as solar-powered and LED lighting. You can even monitor your water use with efficient new Wi-Fi systems, such as those for irrigation, which you can operate from your smartphone or tablet device.
7. Recreational outdoor spaces
The backyard can be so much more than a simple grassy spot and kids’ play area. Homeowners are seeking well-designed, integrated outdoor spaces that encourage both children and adults to stay active or simply relax.
Shared activity areas come in all sizes, from structured game courts and lawns, such as those for boules and croquet, to oversize game boards for, say, giant chess or draughts.
Just want to unwind? Spruce up decks and patios with hammocks, fireplaces, and plush sunken seating areas – the hearth of your home may well be outdoors!