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LifestyleHome and Garden

Home design tips for creating indoor-outdoor spaces

Either you’re in or you’re out, as they say — except sometimes, you can be both, as shown by these three Long Island spaces that combine interior and exterior environments.

Tips for inside-outside spaces
In creating an indoor-outdoor space in the home:
DO consider the outside scenery and traffic flow. Jodi “Dell” Dell’Aquila of Jodi Dell Designs, which has offices in Southampton and Manhattan, says it’s important not to obstruct the view or hinder outdoor access with clunky furniture.
DO make sure your space can withstand the weather. “An indoor-outdoor room has to endure the elements and be able to get wet,” says designer Kelly Dall of Kelly Dall Interior Design in Greenlawn. She suggests choosing fabrics that can handle Long Island winters. “Indoor-outdoor fabrics have become really affordable in almost unlimited patterns,” she says.
DON’T limit your enjoyment of indoor-outdoor spaces to the warmer months. “I love indoor-outdoor rooms in the winter and the late fall,” Dall says. “I snuggle under a blanket, light a candle, and it’s really lovely.”
DON’T design without a plan. “Think about how you want to use the space,” says Northport-based designer Toni Sabatino. “What type of entertaining will you be doing? Will cooking and barbecue be involved? What about bar supplies? Maybe it’s all about the kids, or even pets.” Sabatino says determining how you want your space to function prevents costly mistakes later on.

Southampton weekend escape

Indoor / Outdoor dining room designed by Wendy
Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Jodi “Dell” Dell’Aquila, 36, had her Southampton house built in 2013. The home’s inside-outside space, designed in conjunction with her aunt and Wantagh interior designer Wendy Lepkoff, serves multiple purposes. “It was important for Dell to have easy indoor-outdoor access for both daily living and entertaining,” Lepkoff says. A formal living room originally suggested by the architect was scrapped in favor of a screened-in porch, and sliding doors were built for easy access to the patio. “The open floor plan gave us an inviting space to entertain,” says Dell, who also is a designer and lives full time in Manhattan with her husband, Jake, 40, their two young daughters and their dog.

Dining table in a screened porch designed by
Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

On the screened-in porch, which overlooks the pool, a sectional from West Elm provides additional seating, and a concrete-top dining table, chosen because of its ability to withstand the elements, gives the family a place to eat.

Indoor / Outdoor dining room designed by Wendy
Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Just inside, an island in the kitchen is often used as a buffet surface when the family wants to have a sit-down dinner in the nearby dining room overlooking the backyard. The family also keeps stools there to make it easy to have a casual meal, or to gather around with friends.

Indoor / Outdoor dining room designed by Wendy
Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Lepkoff says that by bringing the themes of the interior space outdoors, and vice versa, it creates a cohesive design aesthetic. “Bringing the outdoors in is a way to bring the peacefulness and nature’s energy into the indoor space. 

Northport pool room

This home offers indoor outdoor living at 12
Photo Credit: Veronique Louis

Russell Gomes, 53, grew up in his Northport home. He bought the home from his father, who had built an indoor pool for Gomes’ mother. After she died, the pool went into neglect. “We had masons come in and fill holes and create seating areas,” says Greenlawn designer Kelly Dall, who was eventually hired by Gomes to rework the space. Outside, she says, “we put in the deck and added the furniture” — all of which overlook Northport Bay. She installed a faux-wicker hanging resin chair (by Soleil, $1,200) that seats two and gets cozied up with faux fur so Gomes and his girlfriend, Lisa Flanagan, 54, can enjoy the view even in cooler months.

The back view of 12 Hawkins Drive in
Photo Credit: Veronique Louis

Of course, there were still some parts Dall didn’t want to change. “When you’re talking about a spectacular water view like this, you don’t want to impede or block it,” she says. Dall decided against heavy drapery, and kept all the furniture light and low. “I love how this room is almost all windows, especially on the water side,” Gomes says. “You just see view when you look across. It never gets old.”

Smithtown kitchen

The kitchen leading to the backyard at 7
Photo Credit: Ed Betz

“I had always dreamed of living in an environment where I could spend most of my time outdoors,” says Toni Pelosi, 53, a retired police officer who works in security operations for the New York Mets, and lives with her partner, Lisa Farr, 49, also on the Mets’ security team. “I bought this house because of the yard,” says Pelosi, whose property is a half-acre. “We also chose the largest possible casement windows over the cooktop to frame the beautiful rhododendrons outside and to take advantage of the early morning sun.”

The outdoor deck leading to the kitchen at
Photo Credit: Ed Betz

The original kitchen was dark, with only one sliding door and two small windows. She hired Northport designer Toni Sabatino, and gave her the directive to “bring the outside in.” “She suggested putting in two huge sliding doors, and I selected doors that had the narrowest of frames to maximize the views of the yard,” Pelosi says.

The kitchen leading to the backyard at 7
Photo Credit: Ed Betz

Pelosi says that now her kitchen is flooded with natural light, “and airflow is amazing.” During the hotter months, she keeps the doors open. “The kitchen and the deck become one,” Pelosi says.

The pool and outdoor area at 7 Poplar
Photo Credit: Ed Betz

“We can combine barbecuing with stovetop cooking seamlessly, too.” In the cooler months, Pelosi and Farr warm up by the outdoor fire pit. “Toni [Sabatino] created not only a beautiful space, but an actual sanctuary,” Pelosi says.

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