Build Your Own Sandcastle

Dana Asper

Sometimes you just have to step outside and breath in the fresh air! Stop for a minute and listen to the birds chirping, watch the squirrels play and ignore the mosquitos! East Texas summers, if you can tolerate the heat, are meant to be spent outside ... on the lake, barbequing with friends or stargazing. Nature truly is sometimes the best remedy for our day!
My dad always tells the story of how when I was a little girl the doctor told my mom to set me in the sandbox and just let me play in the dirt. Doing so, was the very way to make my immune system stronger as a growing kid! As an adult, I believe that still applies. This need, to be outside and connect with our surroundings, is always something I consider when designing homes because being outside improves mental and physical health.

For home design this summer, I say:
Lose the walls, let's play outside! 

I designed a tiny home for FYI's "Tiny House Nation" this May in Austin, TX. The house is only 350sf inside, so addressing outdoor living for this couple was a critical part of the design process. Learn more about this Tiny House project!

Try applying some of these same ideas to make your home one sunny space! 



Large windows and transoms flood the space with natural light and create a stunning backdrop of art through nature inside the home. If you have the opportunity to add windows to your home, consider adding transoms as well. I suggest setting the transom just above the window if your structure allows it, so the view is maximized vertically. 

In the living room, we anchored the corner of the unit with two sliding glass doors with screens, so on nice weather days, it almost feels like a screen porch.


One of the least expensive, but effective ways to create outdoor living is to throw up a few hammocks! If you have tons of squirrels in your yard, consider the nylon, parachute style hammocks, as I've seen the little rascals nimble through beautiful rope hammocks. 


If you entertain outdoors a lot, consider adding a pass through window to your kitchen for simple access. We created a drink rail style bar top on this pass through so guests will have a place to set glasses. 


Outdoor furniture doesn't always have to be a patio set purchased at a department store. On this tiny house porch, we designed a built-in bench and utilized the otherwise dead space underneath as a doghouse. Consider areas where you can create destinations for entertaining and quiet time ... a lounge chair under a tree for reading, or a table for dining.


Owning a fire pit was one of my favorite things about our house in California. Having a campfire style setting in your yard creates a nostalgic setting perfect for roasting marshmallows or telling stories.  


Obviously the Texas heat can be brutal. Fanimation has some really stylish outdoor fans that truly are a decorative fixture in their own right! Depending on the size of the outdoor space, sometimes wall-mounted fans in corners will offer greater circulation and air movement. 


String lights are a must! Simple to install and low cost, these lights instantly create a stunning setting that will impress guests. 


For this tiny house, we used copper panels from Parasoleil to create our own screen doors for privacy on the patio. The pattern of the screen brings an artistic element to the setting. Art is not just for the interiors! Screens can create a backdrop for vines and foliage, or offer shade from the sun.


I call the style of this home "Mid-Century meets Boho". We used $10 serape blankets to give the outdoor space a cozy, yet colorful vibe. Custom outdoor cushions made with outdoor fabric offer lovely places to sit around. 


For me, the fun in design has always been about taking a bit of a risk ... doing something unexpected.

The tiny home we built in Austin is nestled under the oak trees. The couple owns an urban winery and plan on entertaining guests outside for their wine business, so flexibility in seating number was important. I decided to make the stairs leading up to the house unusually wide, so they double as a stadium style seating arrangement. Because art isn't just for the interiors, I painted each stair riser a different color to go along with the bohemian style of the homeowner. 


Notice none of my tips for outdoor living have mentioned the obvious ... landscaping. There is a reason for that! I want to encourage you to consider outdoor living more like indoor. Pull outside the very elements that make you feel cozy inside. Through art, lighting, textiles and color, your outdoor space can truly take on a personality of its own! 

Think back to your days in a sandbox and use your imagination! As kids we played outside in the sand with no inhibitions ...

I  say lose the walls and build your own unique 'sand castle' in your backyard!

Guest post by Kim Lewis originally published on BSCENEMag.