blurring the boundary between inside and out 07/2016

Flavin Architects, Modern Screen Porch in Wellesley, MA


The practice of uniting residential architecture and design to a home’s natural setting first became popular in the Unites States in the 1920’s. It’s an idea that resonates greatly with our studio’s philosophy of Natural Modernism. At Flavin Architects, we strive to create homes that speak to their surroundings in a cohesive and fluid way.


To create this relationship, we approach the built environment of your home and its surrounding landscape as reciprocal spaces. Connection between your home’s interiors and the landscape can be done successfully by establishing visual connections, using a natural material palette, and making cohesive furniture selections.


In your interior, high ceilings and steel framed windows and doors create the illusion of disappearing boundaries. Open floor plans and clear lines draw the eye to the outdoor spaces, inviting you to “experience” the natural surroundings of your home from the interior. You can also connect your spaces through decoration. Lean towards natural materials: you can look beyond wood and use cane, rattan, or other natural plant fibers in your home furnishings. Juxtaposing these elements with softer textures and pops of color creates a sense of warmth necessary for an indoor space. Incorporating natural materials like stone and wood further tie indoor rooms to your outdoor space. A bluestone for the flooring used inside your home can be continued onto a terrace to define a larger entertaining space.


Furniture that is designed withstand the elements, while still speaking to the interior, is ideal for your terrace. Cohesion through contrast can be achieved by incorporating industrial materials in your lawn furniture. Using modern materials like stainless steel in your garden decoration carries the finishes seen inside a contemporary home to the outdoors. 


Flavin Architects, Modern Screen Porch in Wellesley


For a renovation project in Wellesley, MA we worked with Landscape Architect Zen Associates to blur the boundary between interiors and exteriors. The addition of a modern screen porch seamlessly links the home’s structure to the extensive gardens. A grey granite floor runs from inside the screened porch to the outside terrace to achieve an extension of the home’s entertaining space. A black nylon insect screen is used for maximum transparency and a standing seam copper overhang projects the home into the garden.  The addition of the porch creates a refuge from the blaring summer heat, while allowing the owners to savor the fresh air and surrounding landscape.   


Henry Hoover House,


In Massachusetts, Henry Hoover was a pioneer of the movement to unify a home’s interior design with its natural landscape. Hoover benefited from working in a post-war era where he had access to an abundance of mass-produced materials like glass, metals and concrete. In the design of his own home in Lincoln, MA, he took advantage of such materials to fashion rooms with high ceilings, vast open spaces, and a south-facing wall of windows to capture the vistas of the Cambridge Reservoir. It was imperative to him that his homes have a harmonious union with their natural surroundings, and he picked his sites based on where his homes would best “grow.”  Instead of leveling the land to fit the needs of an ideal home, Hoover designed imaginative and modern structures that fit into the landscape like a puzzle piece.


When the distinction between inside and out becomes fluid in your home design, you redefine the spaces in which you live.  


Text by Alejandra Bennett, Studio Manager
Flavin Architects