Being out in the fresh air is about as good as it gets. It’s one of the best things about summer, and entertaining outdoors . The way to carry this feeling indoors all comes down to good design — interior, landscape and architecture.
The first thing to consider when choosing a home, or building one, is where the sun comes up and sets, says Ross Bonetti, founder of Vancouver’s Livingspace Interiors and Livingspace Homes, as it will determine how much natural light your home has.
“A lot of people buy a house in the summertime and never think about this. And then realize, oh, I don’t get any afternoon sun, which is the kind of sun most people want,” he says.
In a climate like Vancouver, where it’s dark and grey a lot of the year, investing in big windows, skylights, and designing wide-open interior spaces will help create that light, airy feel, says Bonetti. Window packages are the “big dollar expenses” if you’re choosing open, or West Coast modern-style architecture.
“The house I’m designing and building right now has massive windows. Even in wintertime, I don’t think I’m going to have a lot of lights on; there’s so much light in the house,” he says.
In this design, they’ve taken the open concept to the next level, he says, with living, dining, kitchen, office and gym all open plan, flooding the home with natural light.
“You see the windows up in the gym from the lower level. And on the other side of the house is our master bedroom. The light up top here is incredible because it is such an open space,” he says.
Dividing rooms off from each other cuts the natural light, he says, and often people will create dining rooms that are hardly ever used — so you’re wasting the space you have.
“We see it a lot, big massive houses, that end up being all these small rooms,” he says.
Just as rooms are blurring into each other, so too are furniture categories, says Bonetti, choosing to furnish his home with furniture by European designer Paola Lenti , whose outdoor collection works just as well indoors.
“Outdoor furniture is now just as comfortable as indoor furniture,” he says.
You can really play with the element of light in your outdoor spaces, says Reinier Van de Poll, of Van de Poll Gardens, by choosing plants that change colour when the breeze hits them — and their leaves turn over. Trees like honey locus, venerated grasses and some narrow poplar varieties are all good examples, he says.
“These types of trees and grasses are remarkably different and play wonderfully with the light and shadow in the garden ,” says Van de Poll.
For those who love light and airy environments, one interesting garden concept is planting a lot of white flowers, he says.
“At night, they’re really luminescent. If you happen to have a full moon or have some good garden lighting, those white flowers almost glow in the garden. Some English designers have created just white gardens,” he says.
A common request Van de Poll says he often gets from clients is to plant for privacy in their backyards. But, he says, if he does this, and plants a 12-foot hedge around their yard, it will feel private, but they’ll likely hate it because they’ll feel walled in — the opposite of an easy-breezy environment.
A better option, he says, is some well-placed trees.
“Your yard will feel bigger, you’ll get a feeling of privacy, and your sense of space and air will feel bigger,” says Van de Poll.