How Do I Design for Indoor Outdoor Living?

By Sean Canning

I wanted to make this video to talk about one of the biggest requests we get here at Ten Seventy Architecture. Our clients (or our prospective clients) love these giant retractable door systems. And this is one of the best ways to get that indoor and outdoor feel.

The concept is: you want your outdoor space to sometimes feel like it’s indoor space. And San Diego is the best spot in the entire country to do this.

The first way to do this is to install one of these giant retractable door systems. Now these door systems are very expensive. They can cost over $700 a linear foot.

So if you’re considering this, you definitely have to have a big budget.

Not only are you going to be subject to the door costs. But there’s going to be an installation cost and there’s going to be a structural engineering cost. And in addition to that, there is going to be a structural frame, which has to be built over the door system.

So you’re going to incur all these costs, just to get this one feature.

Now, the retractable door systems, they come in sliding systems, sliding pocketed systems, and accordion systems. And they come in accordion systems which also have an operable man-door, which is a really nice feature. But a lot of those are only available when you have an odd number of doors.

Typically you want to keep your door panels at 30 inches or more. 36 inches seems to be a nice medium width for these panel systems, but we’ve designed systems up to four foot panel widths or five foot panel widths.

And you can increase the height. So you can have a six feet eight inch door panel, which is your standard height. You can go with a seven foot system, an eight foot system, which is probably going to be ceiling height. And in certain cases we’ve gone as high as a 10 foot height because we had a 10 foot ceiling height - So we wanted a full floor to ceiling retractable door system.

Now, of course the retractable doors systems are the best way to connect the interior to the exterior because you’re literally eliminating the wall.

But if the budget does not allow for that, your next best option is probably going to be a French door system, which is going to allow two doors to open and get a large amount of clear space.

The best option beyond that would be a sliding system where you’d have four panels and the two would slide over. So 50% of that door system would be open to the outside.

And the budget conscious version of this would be to do multiple patio slider systems where you’d have more than one, six foot wide patio slider. And half of that could open at a time because one door docks in front of the other door. So you can do a series of these patio doors and that’s probably your lowest cost way to do this.

Now a couple of other things you should be concerned about.

When we talk about going from indoor space to outdoor space, we have covered interior space, we have uncovered exterior space, and in between those spaces, we could plan some covered exterior space.

This is going to help ease that transition a little bit better. Additionally, it could help shade the glass because if our exterior space looks west or south (in San Diego), those glass doors can be hit with a lot of direct sunlight and that’s going to lead to solar heat gain.

So if you could create that covered exterior space, that should help shade that space and shade the glass, reducing your heat gain.

And this would also provide a more enjoyable space on the exterior to spend time. Because uncovered exterior space in San Diego is not as valuable as covered shaded exterior space in San Diego. So that’s an important thing to consider.

Overall, those are some great ways to get that interior-exterior feel.

I would also recommend you consider some courtyard so you can create a visual connection as well because the visual connection is the second best way to get that connection to the physical connection.

But through a series of those different options, you should be able to achieve a really nice connection between interior and exterior space in San Diego. 

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