Nice weather sends many Americans outside to grill, entertain or simply relax on backyard porches and patios. That’s a smart choice. But what if you didn’t really have to make a choice?
Some houses are designed to blur the line between outside and in, with walls that fold or slide away to turn a living room into a patio — or to turn an eat-in kitchen into an eat-out one, courtesy of the picnic table in a now-adjoined yard.
These indoor-outdoor rooms can make a home seem more spacious and more in tune with nature. Here are 10 examples from around the country.
1. Pool House
Architect Randall Mars says that this pool house in McLean, Va., has a private and a public face. One side has masonry walls and houses the changing room, shower facilities and a sleeping loft. On the other side, only a glass garage door separates the interior from the pool. When it’s raised, guests can step right from the 900-square-foot house directly into the water.
Another door on the side of the house pivots to shade the outside bar, and a drop-down video-projection screen makes it possible to watch movies or television shows from the pool.
2. Open Kitchen
The heart of this home in Mill Valley, Calif., is true open space. Not only do no walls separate the kitchen from the dining room and adjacent living room, but that whole section of the house also is separated from the adjacent outdoor deck by two 22-foot collapsible doors.
That means about 90% of this 14-by-65-foot room’s exterior wall can essentially disappear when the weather is nice, says Jason Urrutia, principal of Urrutia Design.
The deck has steps leading down to a pool; nearby are an outdoor kitchen, dining area and fire pit.
3. Traditional Lake House
When the weather is warm, residents of this Michigan lake house can open three sets of French doors to turn a cozy sunroom into an open-air patio.
The sunroom was designed as a transition between the home’s interior and exterior spaces, says architect Phil Jenkins of Martin Brothers Contracting.
“[It’s] a place to be protected from the elements while still being a part of the lakefront activities,” he says.
Above the sunroom, a balcony that extends from two of the bedrooms affords spectacular views of Michigan’s Klinger Lake. And a whimsical fish motif in the gable trim above the balcony reflects the family’s personality.
4. Beauty With Reused Materials
This 3,000-square-foot custom home in Seattle was designed for a client who was concerned about sustainability. H2D Architecture + Design, working with builder Thomas Jacobson Construction, included triple-glazed windows, reclaimed hardwood flooring and countertops made from recycled and locally sourced materials, among other features.
The kitchen and dining areas are connected to the outdoors with a NanaWall system that allows access to the adjacent deck, says Heidi Helgeson, principal architect at H2D. That access can change with the weather: The large windows let in light even on cold days. On in-between days, the homeowners can leave the walls closed and open the windows.
5. Vaulted Vista
Built in 1971, the home was remodeled in 2001 to integrate the interior and exterior spaces. This is most evident in the living room, which has a glass-panel wall that folds away to let the room seamlessly flow onto the patio. The barrel-vaulted ceiling helps showcase the spectacular view.
6. Contemporary Charleston Retreat
The homeowners’ desire for a sustainable retreat on their waterfront lot inspiredFrederick + Frederick Architects to update this house in the dogtrot style, which was popular in the Southeast before air conditioning was invented. Traditionally, these houses had two rooms, one for cooking and one for sleeping, separated by an open passageway that functioned as the main sitting area, which was cooled by natural air currents.
In this version, on a barrier island near Charleston, S.C., the center hall is the foyer and sitting room, architect Jane Frederick says. Perforated walls in the front and back permit air flow, and the one in front can fold open.
7. Cutting Corners-In A Good Way
Disappearing walls are among the special features commonly included in custom homes built by CHPT Construction of San Diego, co-owner Cecilia Zavalla says. This Mediterranean-style house has a family room that connects to the patio via a 15-foot opening that wraps around the corner. The cantilevered ceiling means there’s no center post to spoil the view.
That vista remains when the three 5-by-9-foot wall panels are closed. Each is made of double-paned tempered glass in a metal frame, mounted in a track that makes opening or closing a one-handed operation.
8. Modernist, Inside and Out
Los Angeles architect Kenneth Lind designed this 1949 modernist house in Pacific Palisades, Calif., with an eye toward bringing the outside in. The long south-facing side of the house has floor-to-ceiling windows, and sliding glass doors on the ground floor open to an outdoor dining area and pool.
A renovation by Shubin + Donaldson added space and converted the carport into a living room that also has sliding glass doors that open to the yard.
To connect the outdoor and indoor spaces, many rooms are painted in the colors of the surrounding eucalyptus trees.
9. Desert Luxury Home
Copper Sky Residence, designed by Swaback Partners, is a custom home built into the side of a craggy desert hillside in Arizona’s Paradise Valley. The upscale four-bedroom home and guesthouse has a number of stunning indoor-outdoor spaces. Glass pocket doors in the home’s master suite open to a terrace overlooking Phoenix, while a similar system opens the living room and kitchen to the elements and an expansive outdoor lounge.
Large cantilevered ceilings extend beyond the rooms to shade them from the often-harsh Arizona sun.
10. Breezy Efficiency
Nestled in a neighborhood of beach bungalows in Venice, Calif., this modern house is designed to use the pleasant climate to minimize its energy use.
In fact, Ehrlich Architects designed the building to consume zero-net energy (Bing: What is a zero-energy home?). Natural ventilation helps, and the living-dining area opens to the exterior on three sides. To the west, sliding glass doors open to a lap pool, and pivoting glass doors on the south side open to a path that leads to a guesthouse. On the north side, glass pocket doors open to a courtyard.
This article was originally published by Scot Meyer of SwitchYard Media on MSN Real Estate. See the original article here.