In-Between Spaces

In-between spaces like verandas and sunrooms blur the lines between indoor/outdoor living while capitalizing on comfortable living space. 
Words by Jo Redman, HBA, BED, DID, NCIDQ | photography by Clay Dolan 

Earlier this summer I ventured to Charleston, South Carolina, where we spent an incredible afternoon touring the French Quarter on a private horse-drawn carriage. What captivated my interest immediately were the private residences and the multiple levels of verandas and terraces found on nearly all of the historic mansions. My imagination conjured endless possibilities of how these loggias or “in-between spaces” contributed to the lives of those who built these pre-Civil war homes—and how the current owners continue to enjoy them. 

Charlestonians still use the term piazza, meaning “open space” in Italian—appropriate, when you consider that these homes were purposely built with the piazzas facing south or west to get the cooling breezes from the sea. What I found most interesting about the piazzas, was the inclusion of an exterior door—known as a hospitality door—which acts as a second entrance to the home. A distinctly southern notion, a propped-open door symbolizes that the family inside is ready to receive visitors. Conversely, a closed door offers social cues akin to “do not disturb”. Today, many transitional spaces like balconies, pergolas, courtyards and canopies are used to welcome our neighbours or to encourage spontaneous conversations with passers-by. These architectural extensions of both sunlight and shade not only offer shelter but also provide a space for entertaining or quiet relaxation—an al fresco oasis between private and public life. 

Here on the Escarpment we also celebrate transitional spaces that encourage the flow between indoor rooms and outdoor elements—especially in the warmer months. I’ve spent a lot of time at Pinnacle Rock Farm in the Blue Mountains (pictured above). Over the years the screened-in porch has become a place of refuge, a place to dine and entertain. An in-between place to meditate or be lulled to sleep by the sounds of gentle rain and cross-flowing breezes. The sunroom at the back of the house is now enclosed with expansive glass panes which  allow unobstructed views of the Escarpment, Pinnacle Rock and a pond which is often inhabited by geese and ducks. In the winter months it’s designed to collect passive solar energy and in partnership with the pellet stove, a comfy, warm setting is achieved. Oftentimes in the midst of winter snowstorms, boundaries are blurred and the thrill of being trapped in a snow globe is not so farfetched. 

Incorporating an in-between space can enhance the quality and experiences of everyday life at home. They’re multi-functional, based on our needs—whether for entertaining or simply a private escape (or both!). Connection to the outside world and nature in general provides positive feelings and incorporating an in-between space can add an entirely new dimension and design appeal to a new or existing home. Combining outdoor serenity with the comforts of indoor amenities has become a popular design trend and has added an increased investment value. For apartment or condo dwellers, the terrace or balcony might be their only private, outdoor space. 

I encourage you to kick start your inner connection with mother earth and take your outdoor space to another level. If you already have a covered porch, reimagine it—reach out to a local carpenter or your favourite building store to see if they can construct a series of framed floor-to-ceiling screens that would cover the entire length, in other words, screen it in. You can also add a screen door on either side for ease of access to your yard, deck, or gardens. The benefits are endless but the most obvious is avoiding the buggy season and inclement weather conditions. Add some comfy seating, a dining table and chairs, some area rugs, perhaps a candelabra or two and voila, you’ll have a beautiful extension of your home that flows seamlessly from your existing kitchen/family and dining areas. 

It is our hope that as you are reading this that you too are resting on a comfy chaise in your outdoor retreat, away from the hustle-bustle of everyday life, watching the world go by, one slow moment at a time.