We humans spend more than 70% of our time inside a building. Yet we have a deep connection with the natural world. This dichotomy is the root of two recent design trends.

One trend is biophilic design, where an effort is made to connect the indoors and outdoors. This is done by opening up buildings to natural views while also physically bringing elements of nature inside. We wrote about that trend here and here.

The other trend takes the opposite approach, moving the indoors outdoors. Outdoor living is a rapidly growing trend, especially in the residential and commercial markets. It offers the benefits of that connection with nature, and it also allows you to expand the footprint of a business or home at a lower cost than a building expansion.

Here are a few ways to stretch the capacity of a building and blur the line between indoors and outdoors:

Create a four-season space.
Existing structures such as garages or pergolas can be used year-round in many areas. Installing exterior shades with side channels keeps out rain, reduces noise, and controls heat and glare. With outdoor heaters it isn’t out of the question for employees or customers to make use of the space all winter. In the photo to the right you can see the temperature difference between the outdoors and the inside space with shades down and heaters.

Extend the seasons.
As businesses invest more in outdoor spaces, they want to extend their usage for a better ROI. If there is no existing detached structure, retractable exterior shades can help you get more use of covered patio areas. For decks without a roof, adding a louver system that can be opened or closed can also let you make use of your outdoor space for a longer period.

Create multiple outdoor areas.
Don’t limit yourself to a single large outdoor living space. By creating multiple outdoor “rooms,” you can allow more customers and employees to enjoy the outdoors simultaneously with a greater sense of intimacy. Retractable shades can be lowered to provide separate areas for eating, chatting, and other activities.

Visually link the indoors and outdoors.
Use colors and plants near windows and doors to create a natural transition between indoor and outdoor spaces. Interior or exterior shades in natural colors can keep out glare when necessary and provide some privacy while allowing views through to the outside when the shades are down.

Exterior shades are an excellent solution for bringing any of these concepts to life. They offer several benefits:

  • Reduce heat gain
  • Reduce glare
  • Resist wind
  • Resist insects
  • Reduce noise
  • Provide privacy

Exterior zipper style shades are also great for keeping the rain away. Many outdoor spaces use clear plastic barriers when it starts raining. By using exterior shades like the Draper FlexShade ZIP, people are kept dry with a more aesthetically appealing solution, as evidenced by the video below.

To learn more about Draper solutions for outdoor living and exterior shading, click here.

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