Creating the Perfect Indoor Outdoor Living Space

Creating the Perfect Indoor Outdoor Living Space

Outdoor Additions
Additions and Remodels
Decoration and Design
By Alex Mikayelyan July 22, 2021

The most organic room you can design in your home is one that blurs the line between the indoor and outdoor areas of your home. Growing indoor plants can introduce some nature to the interior and placing outdoor furniture in the backyard can create a contrasting effect. But there is one type of room that can seamlessly bring the two worlds together. 

Indoor-outdoor rooms, sometimes referred to as California rooms, combine the best of both worlds to create a space that is partially inside the home and partially outdoors. The difference between an outdoor living room and an indoor-outdoor space is that the prior is situated entirely on the outside of the main building. This can be anything from a patio or terrace, to a deck. An indoor-outdoor room, however, exists on the border between the interior and exterior of your home.

There are several ways you can create an indoor-outdoor room and make it the perfect space for all manner of activities.

The Most Important Ingredient In an Indoor-Outdoor Room: Space

Before you start envisioning the design of your indoor-outdoor living room you must first choose its location. Naturally, the location is among the most important factors that will determine how well this room will serve its purpose. 

As one would expect, one of the best areas in the house to have an indoor-outdoor space is near a sliding glass door that leads to a patio. Oftentimes homeowners will leave this area open to make the passage to the outside more seamless. But you can use this to your advantage. With enough space for furniture and decor, you can create a room that gracefully transitions from the interior to the exterior.

Tips On Making the Most of Limited Space

Tips On Making the Most of Limited Space

Another great space that can be used to build an indoor-outdoor room is the garage. If you have an empty garage that is being used as storage you can declutter, transform it, and fill it with some furniture that extends to the outside. The benefit of this is that when it starts to rain or snow all you have to do is close the garage door to protect the interior.

If you have a big enough balcony, whether it is one outside of a bedroom or a terrace close to the primary dwelling unit (the main structure of your home), you can also use this space to create an easy-access indoor-outdoor room. The key here is accommodating for a seamless transition, be it a sliding glass door, a garage door, or any other threshold that allows you to easily go in and out of the house. 

Materials Often Used In an Indoor-Outdoor Space

The materials used to create an indoor-outdoor living space can be tricky to get right. While you do want to add as much interior comfort into the outdoor section of the room as possible, you still need to take into account that some materials are not made for outdoor use. 

Flooring, for example, needs to be waterproof on the exterior section of the indoor-outdoor room. Vinyl is a good flooring material for this purpose thanks to its waterproof qualities. As attractive as natural wood may be thanks to its timeless charm, certain types of lumber flooring are not ideal for outside use as they can swell and bend as a result of moisture. 

You can extend the same flooring across both areas of the space, but it is not the case that the materials you utilize in the interior and exterior portions of the room have to match. If you want to highlight the distinction, you can use all the natural wood design elements to your heart’s content in the interior, whereas the exterior can feature more rugged materials, such as natural stone, pavers, or concrete. The furniture on the exterior side of the room will also need to be as waterproof as possible to prevent mold growth and moisture damage — think rattan, wicker, olefin, acrylic, polyester.

Textures and Materials That Are a Must for Indoor Outdoor Rooms

Textures and Materials That Are a Must for Indoor Outdoor Rooms

Additionally, you can add some much-needed warmth to the room with an indoor-outdoor rug. These are designed to withstand the natural elements and are a great way to bring in the comfort of the indoors. They are often made of polypropylene and are easy to wash (even just a rag down will sometimes do the trick). You can find all kinds of designs for an indoor-outdoor carpet that will match your stylistic preferences and create the perfect marriage between the exterior and interior of your home. If you are interested in something long enough to extend to the outside portion of the room the indoor-outdoor runner should be your pick.

Furniture Ideas for a California Room

Outdoor Furniture That is Both Attractive and Functional

Outdoor Furniture That is Both Attractive and Functional

A room is not complete without furniture. And while there are always going to be the obligatory living room furniture pieces that we all know and love, you can find ways to experiment and come up with something uniquely your own. But before you can take your pick, it is important to visualize how you are going to use your indoor-outdoor living space.

Keep in mind that having a room that extends to the outside does not mean that the furniture has to as well. While you can invest in an extensive sectional that fits in both the interior and exterior space of the room, you also have the option of concentrating all the furniture in one area of the room. Extending your furniture to the outside portion of the room is not mandatory. 

Many homeowners opt for this more compact layout for their indoor-outdoor living room by putting the sofa set, coffee table, and all other pieces of furniture inside. This helps prevent them from being damaged by the elements while keeping plenty of creature comforts near the exterior of the house. 

An Ambiance of Balance

Before thinking about the room’s atmosphere, consider the room’s focal point. This is the point in the room that your gaze naturally gravitates to any time you enter. For most living rooms this is a big central cabinet, a fireplace, or even a TV. If it’s an indoor-outdoor dining room it might be the centerpiece. Think about which portion of the inside-outside room has a focal point — is it on the interior or exterior portion of the room?

In the interior, it can be a fireplace, a large piece of furniture, an accent wall, or even a bookcase. On the outside portion of the room, it can be anything from a firepit to a large potted plant. The focal point will determine the mood in your indoor-outdoor room and plays a huge role in the overall atmosphere. 

Indoor Outdoor Lighting Ideas and Designs

Indoor Outdoor Lighting Ideas and Designs

Another very important key to nailing the ambiance is lighting. As with finding a balance between interior and exterior materials the same needs to be done with the lighting. Indoor lighting is inherently different from outdoor lighting. On the inside, light can bounce off one surface and onto another. This means that even relatively small lighting fixtures can light up the room quite well. Outside, where there are not as many reflective surfaces, you will need more powerful lighting to balance out the interior lighting. If you install the same lighting inside and outside you will end up with outdoor lighting that is far too dim or indoor lighting that is excessively bright. 

It’s best to split up the lighting between the interior and the exterior as you would with a patio or deck. For example, one of the most popular types of outdoor lighting is string lights, which are easy to install and very versatile. For the interior portion of the room, consider floor lamps as they are closer to the ground and can also provide some light to the exterior. Chandeliers on the indoor portion of the room cannot do this as well since they are typically situated in the middle of the interior side of the room. If you do want to opt for ceiling lights, consider recessed lights which will give you better distribution.

Landscaping Around Your Indoor Outdoor Room

Landscaping Around Your Indoor Outdoor Room

For decor, consider taking advantage of the synthesis of interior and exterior by placing some potted plants around the room. Plants can bring the room together as they tie in with our motif.


Written by
Alex Mikayelyan

Written by Alex Mikayelyan