Modern architecture has long emphasized a close connection between a structure and its environment—particularly in California and elsewhere along the West Coast of the United States, where the climate is temperate year round.
This desire to be close to nature has led homeowners, architects, and designers to collectively embrace the concept of indoor-outdoor living, wherein a home’s site and environment acts as an extension of it’s living space. Instead of the home repelling nature, there is instead a symbiotic relationship between the two.
Indoor-outdoor living has long influenced our design philosophy and perspective. In our residential projects, we work to blur the boundaries between built and natural environments. Our projects work to merge California modernism with vernacular design elements in order to maximize the homeowner’s connection to their site and their home’s natural surroundings.
Below, we take a look at four of our residential projects which exemplify indoor-outdoor living and philosophy.
The Carrillo residence was designed for a young couple with two children. Occupying a long, narrow site on the rim of the Santa Monica Canyon, the site enjoys views of the Pacific Ocean. The home was designed to maximize the enjoyment of these views, while taking advantage of Southern California’s year-round temperate weather and addressing the formal and informal needs of the family.
These goals were accomplished through a series of deliberate design choices which work to break down the boundaries between the home and its environment. Throughout the home, particularly in the living room, large expanses of glass are leveraged to visually connect the interior of the home with the exterior, and to allow the site’s stunning views to be enjoyed throughout the home. At the same time, a series of oversized pivot doors can be opened up in the living room and dining room in order to provide access to the outdoor space as desired. Other elements, such as stone paving inside and outside the home, offer an additional sense of visual continuity.
Similar to the Carrillo residence discussed above, the 700 Palms residence also occupies a narrow lot. The resulting home was designed to address a desire to maximize light and privacy, while working to maintain a certain sensitivity to scale.
The house works to dissolve the barriers between indoors and out, in an attempt to create flexible living spaces which take advantage of the site’s benign climate. In the main living space, this is achieved by floor-to-ceiling glass walls which the homeowner can either roll away or swing open in order to enjoy patios, courtyards, and gardens. Additionally, roll-down scrim can be opened or closed around the home’s pool in order to achieve the perfect level of privacy.
The design further blurs the boundaries of inside and out by utilizing a corten steel plate which extends through both the interior and exterior of the structure.
Located in a neighborhood in Beverly Hills that consists primarily of Spanish-styles homes from the 1940s, the Crescent Drive residence was designed to be respectful to its surroundings, but with a modern twist. The entry sequence of the home leverages a calming, private courtyard conceived to help the owner shed away the busyness of the surrounding city, essentially acting as the first “room” of the home.
Inside, floor-to-ceiling glass doors define both the main living space and the dining room, offering a direct view into the outdoor space. When these doors are pocketed away, the house becomes a sort of open pavilion that allows the homeowner to take full advantage of the California climate. These doors also achieve an illusion which helps the home feel open and airy.
Located in Santa Monica, the 19th Street Residence was designed for a family that consciously practices togetherness. The primary objective was to create a living space which all of the family’s members (parents and two teenage children) would be comfortable using and enjoying.
These goals were achieved by embracing an L-shaped layout paired with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. Together, the layout and doors work to create a single indoor-outdoor space for the family to enjoy together or separately. Additionally, a series of other easily-accessible outdoor spaces—such as a small interior courtyard built into the staircase landing and a deck off the master bath—offer additional avenues for privacy, reflection, and closeness with nature.
For individuals who wish to live a life close to nature, designing and building a modern home which exemplifies the principles of indoor-outdoor living is an excellent way of achieving that goal. By leveraging a home’s layout, landscape, and materials, it is possible to create a dwelling which truly blurs the boundaries between indoor and out.
Natalie LaHaie is the Business Development and Marketing Director at Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects (EYRC). She is a graphic designer by trade and a natural strategic thinker, employing design to express vision, direction, and values. With over a decade of experience in the field of architecture and design, she admires the role of architecture in bringing people together from all backgrounds and walks of life - specifically through community, education, and civic buildings.