When I moved from a big, rambling East Coast house to Northern California a decade ago, I was shocked by how small West Coast houses were in comparison. Then it dawned on me: California practically invented the idea of blurring the boundaries between indoors and outdoors, effectively doubling the living space. Here's how to do the same at your house:
Good architecture helps, of course. Ideally a kitchen opens onto a sunny deck. But even without that luxury, you can "add" an extra room onto the house (at least during the warm months) by creating a seamless transition from indoors to out. We admire the way that Australia-based Design of Wonder followed a simple plan—involving a unified palette of black and white and the repetition of a striped pattern—to make the transition between kitchen and terrace feel effortless in an updated Edwardian house.
Above: In the middle of a wall of glass, black metal French doors swing open wide to bring the outdoors inside. There is no visible threshold or change in grade to remind anyone that there are two distinct spaces. Photograph via Wonder.
Above: Your eye goes to a bold pattern first—in this case, a simple black and white stripe repeated indoors and out to link the two spaces visually. Make an awning from Sunbrella Awning Fabric. Or buy a deluxe year round Black/White Stripe Projection Awning engineered to withstand rain and heavy snow and made of fabric resistant to fading and mildew is $3,231.50 from Lowe's.
Above: A flat woven Stockholm Rand Rug measures approximately 8-by-6 feet and is on sale for $179 from Ikea. For a similar look, a Black and White Versa rug from Madelline Weinrub comes in a range of sizes, including 8-by-10 feet; for pricing and more information, see Madeline Weinrub.
Above: Against all that black and white, a backdrop of solid green is soothing. Fast-growing vines —such as passionflower, jasmine, or ivy, depending on your climate—can cover a fence as thickly as a coat of paint. To get the same look against the house, plant vines in neutral-colored planters such as a Taupe New Pot 70; it's $350 from Design Within Reach.
Above: An 84-inch-high tubular steel Jardin Flower Trellis (L) is $79.95 from Gardeners. For a white-flowering vine with a lovely scent, consider Azores Jasmine; the plants are $12.95 apiece if you buy two or more from Logee's. Photograph (R) by Svanes via Flickr.
Above: Echo the greenery indoors with a house plant in a white pot. A 12-Inch Jardiniere from Bauer Pottery is $150.
N.B.: For another indoor-outdoor terrace, see Design Sleuth: Neisha Crosland's Espaliered Vines.