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It’s in our nature: three design tips for bringing the outdoors into your home, naturally

Audience: Consumer

Wausau, Wis. (Jan. 2013) – Feeling a connection to natural elements adds a sense of calm to any environment, whether it's hearing the rain, feeling a breeze, or seeing the leaves on a tree. It's no surprise architects and homeowners agree that nature feeds the soul, and while the idea of bringing the outdoors in when designing a dream home isn't a new concept — it's an important one.

"An indoor-outdoor relationship or flow is a must-have when I'm designing homes for my clients," says Hugh Carter, senior partner of Carter & Salazar Architects in Santa Cruz, Calif. "Many people think of this as a modern sensibility, but it's been a part of ancient architecture standing the test of time — and for good reason."

To give your home a stronger connection to the outdoors, consider the following design tips:

See for yourself

Whether it's a lush forest, majestic mountains, or sunny surf, one thing is for certain: there's nothing like a great view. "Homeowners often start their dream home process by finding the perfect location; it's all about location, location, location," continues Carter. "And they want to see the beauty of the location on which they're building."

Seeing your surroundings naturally starts with the windows and doors. The style and shape vary dramatically, and placement and design should not only complement the home, but also the view. One way to maximize the view is to go big. Newer offerings, such as a 90-degree custom mull unit and a corner TerraSpan® lift & slide door from Kolbe capture impressive views.

Another beauty of windows and doors is they allow natural light to fill a home, adding warmth, movement and depth you can't get from light fixtures. Depending on the time of day, your home can take on a number of personalities and moods as the light from outside naturally transforms.

Get out there

Warm breezes, delicious aromas and panoramic views — these are just a few ingredients to great outdoor living. Dining and entertaining take on a refreshed energy when done outside, so homeowners are looking for ways to create easy access from their indoor living areas. To accommodate, architects are creating open spaces by using products like multi-slide doors, folding doors, and folding windows.

While folding windows are great for pass-through openings, perfect from a kitchen to a patio, folding doors open up rooms dramatically by extending the living space to the outdoors. In addition, multi-slide doors can stack or pocket away into the wall, creating an expansive opening up to 24 feet. Guests and family can seamlessly flow from inside to outside.

Take it all in

The décor of a home is an opportunity to incorporate nature. Stone and wood can be incorporated into construction elements such as a beamed ceiling, river rock fireplace, or slate floor. The warmth of wood can be further infused throughout the home in the doors and the windows; in fact, Kolbe offers a variety of wood species to match any taste or need. Fabrics, patterns and colors inspired by nature add a breath of fresh air to a room, and the smell of a plant or the trickling sound of a water fountain can add life. Displaying flowers picked from a garden or fruit picked from a tree is a simple touch that adds personality and warmth.

"Architectural styles may go in and out of fashion, but a home that incorporates nature will always have something special to offer," concludes Carter.

For more information about Kolbe's many beautiful and customizable window and door options visit

What began in 1946 as a two-brother team has grown into an internationally respected manufacturing company. Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co., Inc. remains a privately held, community-oriented business located in Wausau, Wis. Covering nearly one million-square-feet, its state-of-the-art facilities feature high-tech machinery and a design center to present the creative possibilities offered by Kolbe windows and doors.

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