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Intersections: The Convergence of Landscape Design and Interior Design

The interlacing structure of the pergola is reflected in furnishings for this penthouse terrace design by Lorna Gross. PHOTO: Morgan Howarth Stepping Outside with Interior Designers When walking from indoors to out, there should be...

penthouse terrace & pergola The interlacing structure of the pergola is reflected in furnishings for this penthouse terrace design by Lorna Gross. PHOTO: Morgan Howarth

Stepping Outside with Interior Designers

When walking from indoors to out, there should be continuity. It should be in some way similar in character to what’s happening indoors.

As landscape architects, our approach to landscape design involves defining use areas and mapping out paths that lead the eye and body through various transitions in outdoor environments. We carefully consider how these spaces interact with each other and the home, framing views and creating a cohesive atmosphere. But what about interior designers? Do they consider the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces in their designs?

To explore this intersection between landscape design and interior design, we spoke with three top Washington DC metro area interior designers. Their insights shed light on the importance of a seamless transition and a harmonious connection between indoor and outdoor spaces.

What should be the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces?

Lorna Gross-Bryant from Lorna Gross Interior Design, Bethesda, emphasizes the need for continuity. Indoor and outdoor spaces should relate to each other through a series of transitions, ensuring a seamless flow.

According to Skip Sroka from Sroka Design, Georgetown, the goal is to have flow and ease. Practical considerations, such as having the right-sized doors, come into play when creating a connection between the kitchen and outdoor spaces. Visual context is also crucial. A captivating view that draws you outside can be a compelling reason to step outdoors and enjoy a beautiful day.

Barbara Hawthorn from Barbara Hawthorn Interiors, McLean, believes that indoor and outdoor spaces should be integrated and flow into each other. The positioning of the home and the thoughtful placement of windows play a significant role in determining the views and lighting, both from the exterior and interior.

How do exterior views or lighting play in your design?

hawthorn interiors contemporary porch Barbara Hawthorn’s suspended bubble chairs face a twilight landscape. PHOTO: Kenneth Wyner

For Lorna, the direction in which windows face is a critical consideration. Natural light and its impact on the room's ambiance play a significant role. Balancing warm and cool colors helps create the desired atmosphere in rooms with different orientations.

Barbara emphasizes the importance of using different types of lighting for different times of the day. Layered lighting that reflects the mood of the room is essential. Additionally, exterior lighting can highlight specific features, transforming the view from a dark void into a mesmerizing display of lines and shadows.

Skip focuses on lighting for mood. Different lighting techniques, such as lighting pathways or creating silhouettes, enhance the outdoor experience. For entertaining, sparkle and fun are added, using a mix of LED, incandescent lights, lanterns, and candlelight.

When designing rooms outdoors, do you feel more creative freedom?

open porch interior by lorna gross Porch interior and suspended day bed by Lorna Gross. PHOTO: Geoffrey Hodgdon

According to the designers, outdoor spaces provide an opportunity for more creativity and experimentation. Skip enjoys incorporating vibrant colors and considering the surroundings, using intense colors when the light is right. Large stone objects that may not work indoors find their place outdoors.

Lorna introduces whimsical patterns and incorporates pieces that are personal to the client and their activities. A swinging day bed, for example, adds a touch of playfulness to the outdoor space.

For Barbara, the emphasis is on introducing unexpected materials and elements. By bringing in natural materials that create a sense of the outdoors, even office interiors can be transformed into unique spaces that connect with nature.

When you work with a landscape designer, how do your areas of expertise intersect?

sroka loggia open porch design Loggia interior by Skip Sroka. PHOTO: Geoffrey Hodgdon

Collaboration is key when working with landscape designers. Lorna discusses her vision for the patio and the desired foliage, working together with the landscaper to ensure a cohesive design that complements the interior.

According to Barbara, teamwork and collaboration ensure the integration of different perspectives. By engaging in a dialogue that includes all designers' unique areas of expertise, the end result perfectly reflects the client's vision.

For Skip, the synergy of creative minds during the planning phase is vital. Coordinating from the beginning allows for a well-executed design and ultimately saves money. The outcome is a cohesive space that exceeds expectations.

Landscape Design & Interior Design Share the Same Language

sroka dining pavilion & outdoor fireplace Outdoor dining pavilion design by Skip Sroka. PHOTO: Geoffrey Hodgdon

The convergence of landscape design and interior design is evident in the shared principles between the two disciplines. Both rely on the thoughtful use of natural and artificial lighting, the selection of materials and colors, and the careful consideration of views and movement from one environment to another.

Where interior designers leave off, landscape designers pick up, seamlessly continuing the design language in transitional areas. The combined efforts of these designers result in a home that exudes comfort, character, and personal enrichment.

At Surrounds, our belief is that home is more than just a house. We are passionate about helping people maximize their enjoyment of their homes, both inside and out. If you're looking for inspiration to create different types of outdoor spaces for your home, check out our landscape design portfolio.

For those considering a landscape design project, our eBook, "Expert Guide to Planning the Landscape Design of Your Dreams," is filled with valuable information to help you get started.

Expert Guide to Planning the Landscape Design of Your Dreams