Connecting With the Great Outdoors

Connectivity with nature in home design to encourage and facilitate wellness

By Samantha Mallard

If there’s one thing the 2020 global pandemic is teaching us, it is that home is our sanctuary. Making that safe haven a place that ties together the natural world and the built environment is proving to be not only incredibly popular but also integral to overall good health and well-being. You can create balance that makes your home and its occupants healthier by crafting a space that deftly connects indoor and outdoor environments and lends itself to a multitude of outdoor experiences.

When we spend time in nature, we benefit physically and psychologically — it’s proven to improve sleep and mood, and even to improve eyesight and lower blood pressure. Healthy home building should foster literal and figurative connections with the outdoors through design. Connectivity with nature is crucial to our health.

You can create balance that makes your home and its occupants healthier by crafting a space that deftly connects indoor and outdoor environments and lends itself to a multitude of outdoor experiences.

In the mountains of western North Carolina, Red Tree Builders focuses on great design that promotes a healthy relationship with the outdoors. That connectivity between the home, the land and the occupant is always a major consideration and motivation. In a region where many people spend their free time exploring the mountain playground, it’s important to provide homes that directly function as conduits to outdoor living.

Consider the Setting

For new builds, one of the most important considerations is the home’s connection to its setting and the mindful use of the land. Proper protection is key — if the backyard is south-facing, and the outdoor spaces planned there don’t have any sort of cover, chances are, a homeowner won’t relish the space on a hot day in the summer sun. Consider reorienting the outdoor space, constructing around existing trees, or integrating the outdoor space into the overall floor plan and existing roofline, creating an outdoor room that is comfortable and accessible year-round.

Create Fluid Connections with the Outdoors

When builders reconsider the relationship between the home and its outdoor spaces, they can design fluid connections between spaces that encourage homeowners to spend time outdoors. By creating multiple and direct access points, and making these areas focal points or bold statements, the designer provides the homeowner an outdoor space that is easily integrated into their lifestyle.

Bring the Outdoors Inside
Nestled into its mountainside setting, the main living area of this home boasts a wall of windows that flood the space with natural light and highlights the home’s view of the tree canopy. Laminated pine beams, bamboo flooring, and a bamboo fan offer further natural touches.

Designers also connect homeowners to nature with interiors that pull the wonder of nature indoors — homes flooded with natural light through the use of large, ENERGY STAR rated windows, skylights and solar tubes that provide an abundance of that good-for-you natural lighting and windows that easily open for a breath of fresh air. Using stone or reclaimed wood in interiors enhances structural details, defines a space and reinforces a connection with the art of the natural world.

Built-In Wellness

The process of green home building is already a practice that benefits the health and wellness of the occupant. Green building certification programs can provide a roadmap to focus on key elements that contribute to health and wellness including indoor environmental quality, lighting, noise and ventilation. Builders can benefit from creating a home that goes a step further by remembering the importance of indoor/outdoor connectivity.

Samantha Mallard is the design coordinator for Red Tree Builders, Inc. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from Western Carolina University and hopes to create sustainable spaces that are functional, healthy, and beautiful.