For many design pros and homeowners alike, indoor-outdoor living has become a tentpole of design over the past few years, with priority given to ways people can seamlessly incorporate outdoor living opportunities into the architecture and design of their homes.
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This ethos only became more emphasized during the pandemic years when suddenly the only means of escape or vacation was in your own backyard (or a balcony or front stoop). Details like floor-to-ceiling windows that take advantage of the views and moving glass wall systems that eliminate any barrier to the backyard were commonplace, especially in new builds.
However, in 2023, designers predict a swap — from indoor-outdoor living to outdoor-indoor living. While the two may sound super similar, the application is totally different. Think of outdoor-indoor living as inviting nature indoors regardless of whether you’re surrounded by towering pine trees or towering skyscrapers. Designers and architects are looking more to traditional outdoor finishes (like stone, slate, and untreated wood) to breathe life into interiors and create a connection between daily life and the nature that surrounds us.
“Instead of indoor-outdoor living, we’re noticing a big swing towards outdoor-indoor living,” says architect and designer Anand Sheth of Studio Anand Sheth. “Pros are using traditionally ‘exterior’ materials in refined ways on the interior of homes. In my residential project in Pacifica, I’m experimenting with mirroring the stacked stone wall we are building outside with a stacked stone backsplash in the dining room/bar area.”
In accordance with this vibe, natural stones of all types will reign supreme in the coming years, with patina-forward finishes like textured walls and unlacquered metals following close behind. “We’re going to see an explosion of exciting stone being used in all sorts of spaces,” says designer Victoria Sass of Project Refuge. “Great colorful slabs in kitchens, bathrooms dipped in breccia, furniture composed of a collage of stones — the list goes on. We are currently designing a space with a stone mosaic floor that is completely reclaimed from the remnants of other projects.”
Delyse Berry, the designer and real estate agent behind Upstate Down, adds, “We’re going to see textured walls and lots of stone in 2023! Applications like limewash are a beautiful way to create natural texture and depth in a space. And while we’ve seen a lot of stone recently, it’s definitely going to stick around — I think travertine and green marble will be very prevalent in the coming year.”
If you’re hoping to bring the outdoor-indoor trend to your own home, you need not look any further than your own backyard or local park for inspiration. Reflecting the natural elements of where you live — like using rustic pine in the Northeast or rich adobe in the Southwest — will automatically give your home depth and a sense of place. Look for opportunities to work natural, imperfect materials and objects into your home, avoiding anything that feels too precious or delicate. The biggest perk of nature-derived materials is their ability to wear beautifully over time, changing with your home in a way that reflects a life well-lived.