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Outdoor Living: Why We Need it and How to Make it Special

July 1, 2022

World, national, and local affairs have made the past couple of years particularly trying for many of us. Because focusing on silver linings can help build resilience, we will share one of our favorite silver linings with you: We’ve seen more and more clients come to us with an enhanced appreciation for the incredible amount of natural beauty we have here in Whatcom County. Though this craving for fresh air, sunlight, and greenery isn’t new, it was certainly heightened during lock-down, so much so that Forbes declared 2021 the “Year of the Yard”. While we hope we’re in for better times ahead, we’re pretty confident this heightened appreciation for outdoor living won’t be going away anytime soon.

We’re hardwired to rely on nature. Studies have shown exposure to nature leads to improved self-esteem, mood, and feelings of calmness and comfort and effectively contributes to regulating heart rates, blood pressure, and cortisol (a stress hormone). Additional research suggests spending time in nature results in not only an improved mood, but also improved cognition and memory. In Japan, there’s even a term for short leisurely visits to the forest. It’s called “Shinrinyoku” or “forest bathing” and may be creditable with improved immune function.

Bottom line: we need nature. As a design-build firm with a good chunk of staff who specifically chose to live here because of the outdoor opportunities the Pacific Northwest affords, we get really excited to help create indoor-outdoor living spaces that give our clients the oases they need. The possibilities for indoor-outdoor living spaces are endless. In this post, we’ll explore a few of them.  


Home Office

Many of us have fallen in love with working remotely, or at least a hybrid model. It’s not just because we want to decrease distractions or drop the commute, but because we can tailor our environments. This has created a boom in detached home office sheds. These range in style from super modern with sharp lines to quaint and sweet looking tiny cottages. Those with a green thumb may even consider a home office shed with a greenhouse on the south side.


Game Day Space

Imagine hosting game day for your fantasy football league on your covered patio complete with an outdoor home bar with overhead heaters. Maybe you’ve even thoughtfully zoned the space to include a smoker for that mouth-watering carne asada that’s sure to impress.

Home Spa

If going to the spa with oodles of strangers isn’t your thing, but you want the relaxation, muscle relief, and immune boosting benefits of hydrotherapy at home, your backyard may be the perfect place for a hot tub and cold plunge pool. Spa elements can be built into decks or in-ground to flow seamlessly from a patio or walk-way. Pergolas or privacy screens can create a more intimate feel.



Swimming is one of the best full-body workouts a person can get. Installing an in-ground backyard pool can entirely transform a space and delivery total luxury. If installing an outdoor pool in our climate doesn’t seem like the right choice for you, you may consider an indoor pool with a folding glass wall system that can be opened to let in a fresh breeze and create a transitional indoor-outdoor space as desired.


Outdoor Kitchen

Our moderate climate offers the ability to utilize an outdoor kitchen year-round. Nothing beats cooking outside and relaxing on a cushy patio chair after a summer day hiking in the Chuckanuts, but there’s no reason to restrict outdoor cooking to a few months of the year. Smart rain and wind protection coupled with heating units can create a space that allows an outdoor, yet cozy retreat after a day of skiing at Mount Baker. If outdoor cooking puts you in your happy place, just imagine how fun it would be to master a wood-fire oven. Pizza night will never be the same again.



Perhaps you have acreage and are looking for a seamless transition from your family room to your deck for a panoramic view of your cattle grazing, or maybe you live in an HOA where you keep your chickens in a charming bespoke coop thoughtfully zoned within your backyard. Whatever the case may be, creating livable space that enhances a homestead can be a great way to bask in the pride gained from keeping livestock or growing your own food. Maybe you’re even looking to host guests as part of a farm stay and want to create an indoor-outdoor living space or glamping area that will allow them to feel fully immersed in your beautiful property.


Play Space

What puts more heart in a home than happy kiddos? And, what makes kiddos happier than playing outside? Designing your outdoor living space to not just connect to your family room, but also a mud room can be a solid choice if you want to manage sloppy galoshes. When it comes to creating an outdoor living space that functions well for the whole family, clearly defined zones may work in your favor. Luxury playhouses can be pleasing to the eye, or even be made to match the house, while still offering a feeling of independence to children. Alternatively, a lot of families are looking to integrate play features in ways that look intentional. Climbing walls get added to retaining walls. Slides are built into hills. Flow and function work together to bring joy and harmony.


Event Space

If you read our post last month, you know that entertaining guests in our homes can trigger our happiness hormones. Adding outdoor living space to a home can expand entertainment capacities. Family milestones like graduations, retirement parties, baby showers, birthdays, and even weddings can be celebrated at home without the fuss or cost of renting a space. If hosting gatherings is something you only do occasionally, you may want to be cautious of committing to features like built-in benches that offer less flexibility. Instead, opt for a couple of key features you’d like fixed – such as a fireplace, a cook space, and a water feature, and give yourself the flexibility to rearrange seating depending on the size of your party.



Ready to start dreaming up your perfect indoor-outdoor living space? Give us a call. We’re here to listen to your needs. Our skilled designers and builders will help you create a unique space that will make accessing the outdoors effortless, because we all need nature.

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