Outdoors, Less Is Not More

by lbanyay@solagroup.com

Mies van der Rohe coined the phrase “less is more.” A towering figure in 20th century architecture, the words represent his stripped-down approach to design. And they have become his epitaph. He made spaces better by getting rid of unnessary elements.

That is why it is so telling that the first-ever glass house, Mies’ iconic Farnsworth House, for all of its uncluttered mastery, makes room for a large porch and an even larger patio. If ever there was a statement about the importance of outdoor space, this was it.
The year was 1946 and the porch is one third the size of the total floor area of the home. Travertine marble steps lead to a wide expanse of travertine outdoor space. More travertine steps lead to the coverd porch. There is a table, some chairs and a lounge chair. That’s it.

I am making two points here. First, outdoor living is not new and has always been important. Porches, decks, patios, lanais, verandas and many other forms of outdoor spaces have been a part of good residential design for a long time. It goes back to the courtyards of Roman villas. Second, outdoor living has evolved. Today, more is more.

Outdoor living, in the sense that we refer to it today, is an ever-widening category of decking, finishes, furnishings, electronics, lights and appliances.

This trend of ‘more’ blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces. New luxury homes today are designed in tandem with outdoor spaces — where the indoor is not complete without the outdoor and vice versa. Remodeling to the same effect is more costly and challenging. That is why we opted for a comprehensive approach to covering outdoor living this month. It takes a lot of information to be up to speed on design ideas and on new products for outdoor living.

Our assistant editor Kacey Larsen did yeoman’s work assembling our first-ever pictorial buyers guide for outdoor living products. In it we identify leading manufacturers, the products they make, and their contact information. We think you’ll find it useful.

Beyond the buyer’s guide, the special section also offers great design ideas from remodelers around the country. There seems to be no limits to the creativity remodelers provide their clients today.

The biggest trend is toward outdoor kitchens. Therefore, we thought it would be helpful to breakdown the key elements of a robust outdoor kitchen. We are grateful to the team at Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet for working with us to identify those elements.

For you, the end goal is how to deliver these results and boost your profits. “More is more” should mean more for you.

 

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