Everyone, sooner or later in life finds themselves dreaming of their ideal home, a luxury villa with all the best possible qualities. Sometimes you get the precious opportunity to be able to fulfill this desire, and it is at that moment that the designer's work becomes of fundamental importance.
When designing or renovating a villa for a client, attention should be paid not only to the creation of high-level interior spaces but also to the design of outdoor spaces that meet the client's wishes. The part of the house outdoors is as important as the part enclosed by walls. Moreover, the two areas, internal and external, must establish a mutual dialogue, become an extension of the other.
Every aspect of the area outside the house must be considered in the planning stage, to avoid complications or nasty surprises during the execution phase. The project must be studied around a concept that reflects the client’s identity and desires and shares all the choices made. In addition to this, the open space must always guarantee optimal usability, conceived starting with the functions that the client intends to attribute to it.
Managing a large amount of variables in the field can be a complex undertaking in which the architect or designer easily risks making mistakes or leaving some details behind. Therefore, following a correct exterior design process is a very important requirement to keep everything under control.
In this article, we would like to suggest a series of useful steps to guide the designer. These are generic tips to be adapted every time to each particular situation. In fact, each project is a case in itself and must be evaluated accordingly.
1. Exterior design process: understanding the demands
The first thing to do in the process of designing an outdoor space is to identify the specific characteristics of the location and the end client’s personal needs. What we need to ask is: what kind of outdoor space should we set up? How does its owner intend to use it?
As is understandable, a large garden must be thought of differently than a small patio on the backside of the house or a roof garden. Size matters, but this does not mean that the space must be vast. Even an urban terrace can turn into a corner of paradise, choosing the right elements and arranging them in a well-thought-out layout.
The type of use requested by the client is another fundamental element to base your decisions on. Are we talking about a relaxation area, with all the features of an outdoor lounge? Or are you taking care of the design of a poolside area? Is it a private environment, or do you want to welcome friends? Do you want to eat you or even prepare outdoor meals?
Understanding the lifestyle of the future homeowner can help a lot from this point of view. For this reason, it is advisable to spend a certain amount of time discussing with them, examining their habits and aspirations.
A crucial consideration regards the climate: the exterior of a villa by the Mediterranean sea involves very different needs compared to a chalet in the Alps or a residence with a swimming pool in the center of a large city. It is necessary to consider the orientation of the house with respect to the sun, the air currents, the presence of natural blackouts such as hills, trees, and nearby buildings.
Other technical aspects to be evaluated include:
- The presence of a panorama to be enhanced
- The slope of the land
- The type of soil
- The possible risk of forest fires
- The drainage of rainwater
- The ease of access and transportation
- The connection to services such as energy, gas, water pipes
Once you have understood all the features useful for carrying out the project, you can move on to developing a design concept.
2. Exterior design process: the concept
The area outside the house, as mentioned, can no longer be considered an extraneous area outside the home; on the contrary, it is an extension of it. We are not talking only about plants and some garden furniture but also about purely architectural entities such as floors and walls, which must match each other and the more general project.
As the ideas become clearer and the layouts are hypothesized, a real concept begins to become apparent, that is, a conceptual framework capable of enclosing all the elements of the external space.
In other words, the concept is a common thread, a guiding idea that guarantees the stylistic coherence of the environment: from the configuration of the spaces to the materials, from the selection of plants to decorative objects. Each element influences the next and is affected by it, creating an organic and harmonious whole.
DFN provides its clients with a personalized consultancy service through its staff of qualified architects, which helps the designer from the concept and continues, if necessary, in all subsequent steps.
At this stage of the outdoor design process, a good designer prepares different concepts, in a form capable of communicating their thoughts to the client and allowing them to evaluate the various possibilities. It can be a logical scheme, a description in words or a sketch made by hand, the important thing is that it is clear even to those who are not professionals in the sector.
The concept that is best suited to specific needs is assessed with the client, paying attention to their tastes, and then the first changes are made. The preliminary layout is then developed from the selected concept.
3. Exterior design process: green areas
In the exterior design process, a very important role is played by plants and flowers. Whether it is a large garden or a terrace with a view, the goal is to exploit the spaces efficiently, setting up green areas that guarantee harmony and, when possible, a pinch of spectacularity.
Care should be taken that the plants chosen are suitable for the climate in which you are located. A good idea is also to agree with the client on how much maintenance they intend to dedicate to greenery and then adjust accordingly. The colors of flowers must be chosen, taking into account the shades of the house and the style of the furniture.
4. Exterior design process: roofing
Depending on where the external area of the house is located, how the latter is oriented and the presence or absence of canopies, there is a certain initial degree of coverage from exposure to the sun and bad weather. This information must be compared with the use that the homeowner plans to make of their own outdoor area (in summer or all year round, only at certain times or all day, for sunbathing or relaxing, etc.).
From this reflection, specific needs will emerge to add covers in some parts of the external space. Umbrellas or sails are the most versatile and least demanding tools, but if you have enough surface, you can opt for a gazebo or a pergola, structures that add a touch of class and contribute to making the environment more pleasant.
5. Exterior design process: the furniture
The choice of furniture is perhaps the most important part of the entire exterior design process. A conscious selection must start from the concept, identified previously, to decide which complements best suit the taste of the end client and the style of the rest of the house.
In DFN, we offer an extensive consultancy service from this point of view, making the experience of our professionals available to those involved in the project.
The first thing we usually do is send our catalogs to allow a first overview of the proposals. In the meantime, we ask the client for the project plans and any renderings or photos if the environment has already been created.
The next stage consists of a comparison based on the first impressions after reading the catalogs. Some architects have clear ideas and can specify every single product well; others prefer to show us one or more product lines and leave the task of proposing something to us.
Once the furniture has been chosen, we make a floor plan with the furniture layout, which makes it easy to understand the design and effect of the furnishings at a glance. All the details are evaluated together with the designer, including any need for customized solutions, until reaching the ideal solution.
The choice of fabrics and colors is essential to elicit the right experience for the end-user; for this reason, we always send the samples necessary for a complete judgment. Once all the stylistic choices have been defined, we prepare a book with the images of the selected products and fabrics, which must finally be approved by the client.
If the context allows it, we suggest that you consider completing the project with an outdoor kitchen. Very trendy, this product can determine the qualitative leap between a simple garden or terrace and a real extra outdoor room, where you can spend many hours a day.
Our Samuele Mazza kitchen catalog includes numerous solutions, each with a different design and layout, to satisfy any need. If necessary, each product is fully customizable, and there is also the possibility of designing an outdoor kitchen from scratch.
6. Exterior design process: lighting
The lights of the outdoor spaces are excellent decorative elements, capable of giving the environment a very emotional atmosphere and highlighting the most interesting furnishings or green areas. Above all, they make it possible to enjoy the outdoor area, even in the dark hours, in complete comfort and safety.
This dual nature of functional and embellishment objects requires high-quality lighting products, perfectly in line with the style with the rest of the furniture. Relying on suppliers that guarantee solutions that are already coordinated, such as Samuele Mazza lights by DFN, is, therefore, a significant added value.
The exterior design process is a complex task
The process continues with the calculation of the budget and the signing of the contract. It then continues with the more operational phases: the selection of qualified collaborators, the operational and documentary management of the project, the creation of reports.
It is evident, at this point, that designing the exterior of a villa or a luxury home well is an operation that involves numerous assessments: from functionality to aesthetic taste (personal and end customer), from green areas to furniture, from space management to lighting.
Therefore, it presupposes a certain multidisciplinarity, very difficult to manage without the support of a staff of experts and the knowledge of trusted suppliers. For this reason, the optimal solution is to rely on the advice of consolidated and international companies such as DFN, capable of involving a large number of professionals specialized in the various fields and, at the same time, in calling the shots of a large, coherent and unique project.
This does not mean leaving the entire exterior design process exclusively in our hands: every single phase involves continuous discussion with the client, and almost always, various updates occur between the first and final quotations, a direct consequence of these exchanges.
The work of both parties is aimed at the same goal: the full satisfaction of those who will inhabit the outdoor space. A common goal to be achieved side by side, also through the search for ad hoc solutions, capable of interpreting desires and lifestyles.