Enhance indoor-outdoor living

A new home in the Bay Area or across most of Northern California provides buyers the opportunity to combine optimal indoor living spaces with smartly designed and inviting outdoor spaces.

It’s truly the best of both worlds. Better yet, it’s the best of all seasons.

Because many new-construction home plans offer indoor-outdoor flexibility, buyers can extend the livable spaces of their homes, creating openness or largeness by bringing the indoors out and the outdoors in.

The trick is to maximize the potential on both sides of every exterior door by planning furniture placement and decor that connects the outside with the inside.

More doors and windows

Where given the opportunity, create seamlessness by choosing pocket doors between interior rooms. When in the open position, the doorway will appear larger, giving greater line of sight from front rooms all the way to the back patio, California Room or deck.

Before construction or in its earliest stages, ask the builder if floor-to-ceiling pocket doors can be incorporated in these places. The “before-construction” part here is key; if the home doesn’t already incorporate floor-to-ceiling pocket doors where you want them, the builder will need advance notice to plan joists to accommodate them.

For exterior doors, especially in kitchens, dining areas, living rooms, family rooms or primary bedrooms that open to the outside, ask builders if their vendors offer glass wall systems with moving glass walls. In some cases, a sliding glass door can stack atop a stationary wall-height window. In other cases, the glass panels can recede into the wall.

While discussing doors, ask the builder for ideas on where windows or skylights can be added to bring in extra light from outside. Don’t worry about heat and/or cold getting through windows: Contemporary windows trap temperature extremes, allowing interior spaces to remain comfortable without extra stress on home HVAC systems.

Flexible dining ideas

An extendable kitchen table, strategically placed near a sliding door or the entryway to a California Room can eliminate the need for a separate formal dining area.

Consider this: If instead of a separate dining room you can use the area at the front of the house for a large living room or living room/office space, look at high-quality, extendable tables for the kitchen.

When the time comes for extended family or a large group of friends to visit for a dinner party, that table can be turned at an angle out to the back. In its extended position, it can provide covered or open-air, indoor-outdoor seating for everyone all together.

Contiguous flooring

Using a single style of flooring throughout the main level — with planks running the same direction, front to back — creates a sense of largeness.

Lighter colored wood or luxury vinyl planks in tans, beiges, grays or taupe help light flow between spaces. Be careful not to create too monotone or sterile a look. Position accent pieces with contrasting colors in practical spaces to define rooms or add depth and interest.

Plant matter

Plants don’t need to be only outside. Some may even thrive inside better than outside. And well-selected plants can exist in both places, creating consistency from space to space.

That’s why it’s a good idea to ask a garden center or nursery about plants that can thrive both inside and out, such as some succulents like jade; certain ferns native to Northern California; or hibiscus and even some roses.

Choose a few plants with height: Plant a few small palms along the side fences or walkways. Following the same front-to-back lines inside the house, a couple of pretty pots with tall plants — such as ficus, some palms or the bird of paradise — can draw the eye through to their counterparts outside.

No green thumb or no patience for indoor plants? No problem.

Go ahead and get those pretty pots. Plant your favorite tall plants made of recycled artificial materials; the only watering required will be for occasional dusting.

Screens and sound

The next phase of enhancing indoor-outdoor living might be to create spaces where different groups can relax, socialize, watch TV or enjoy movies or music at the same time.

Some new homes include interior spaces, such as lofts or extended living rooms, designed just for this purpose. While harnessing the extended indoor-outdoor options at the new home, consider speakers, screens and lighting installations.

Separate but connectable sound systems can help the family enjoy extended living spaces, inside and out, or additional separate living spaces.



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