Designing Outdoor Spaces

Drake/Anderson Share Their Strategies

Read What Jamie Drake and Caleb Anderson Have to Say:

Jamie Drake and Caleb Anderson, co-principals at New York-based interior design firm, Drake/Anderson, discuss their design approach–starting with the outside.

“I think we've all learned how important maximizing our space is, and that doesn't mean just our interior space, the desire to have even more leads us to exterior design, to terraces, backyards, patios, and that's a global influence,” says Drake.

“We see how outdoor space has become increasingly important to our clients and that designing outdoor spaces is actually a significant portion of what we do here in our offices,” adds Anderson. “And we have the privilege of designing these exterior spaces all over the country and the world. Whether a terrace in New York City or a beautiful garden in London, we enjoy working with the outside.”

“So let's start by pushing out those walls,” says Drake. “Let's rip those barriers down and let's venture outside.”

Consider Your Climate and Location When Designing and Outdoor Space

Anderson offers that “When designing an outdoor space, it's important to maximize usage by considering the various climates that can occur year-round. Some ways of doing this, for example, in the winter would be utilizing things such as fireplaces and fire pits or portable space heaters. For the warmer seasons in sunny weather, making sure that you have things like umbrellas in order to keep cool, water features, misters and things like that are very important amenities to consider.”

“Sometimes you need you to incorporate all of that because we work in places like Arizona, where it can be boiling hot during the day and freezing cold at night,” shares Drake. “And so we really do, as Caleb said, make sure these spaces are available for comfortable use at all times. For me nothing is better than a water feature because the sound provides such a calming effect.”

“Another consideration is in a city such as New York, a lot of these terraces can be high up and we have conditions such as wind that have to be considered. So making sure that furniture is properly secured–and heavy–to keep it from blowing away,” says Anderson.

“In keeping with this idea of extending your interior space to the exterior, we think of ways to connect the two,” says Anderson. “This can be done through the color schemes, for example, if we have a large living room with doors that open up into a terrace, we'll connect the color scheme of the living room to the actual terrace scheme.”

Drake shares that they did that at a project in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood. “We also did that in Arizona, and it makes both spaces feel larger, both your inside and your outside, because they're connected. And even if not outside, it provides that beautiful connection.”

Types of Fabric for Outdoor Furniture and Rugs

On fabric, Anderson states that “one of the wonderful things about fabrics today is that the technology for outdoor fabrics has developed enormously. You can do gorgeous velvets and wovens that are suitable for outdoors, and we often use them on the indoors as well.”

“And that goes for outdoor rugs, as well,” says Drake. “There are beautiful outdoor rugs that are solution-dyed high performance. These are textiles that can be scrubbed with a solution of diluted bleach and water. They're perfect, as Caleb said, indoors, as well as outdoors, for households that have children, pets, or even just sloppy adults.”

“We really do think of the exterior the same as we do when planning the interior. Where do you place the end tables, where is the cocktail table, the comfortable seating? And with exterior TVs, we can create outdoor media rooms, along with suitable lighting. And we furnish them as carefully as we would a main living room.”

Anderson adds that “beyond the layout and furnishing of exterior spaces, it's important to consider another layer, which is landscaping. We often work with landscape designers and consultants whenever we're creating these outdoor spaces. But it's interesting that the same principles apply with plants. You're looking at things like scale, texture, color, which all relate to the overall design.”

Drake shares that it is an absolute pleasure to learn from these landscape architects and experts. The plants offer that softening layer and, just like an interior collection in your house, they grow naturally with various accessories as you add them.

“Sometimes we have a small space to plan. Maybe it's a pair of chairs and a dining table for two, but other times we're presented with vast exterior landscape zones,” Drake says. “And so we really do think about the living room, the dining room, the relaxing area, the media area, there's all sorts of different nooks and crannies. We're working on a project in Connecticut right now that has enormous amounts of hardscaped zones that need to be furnished. And they are furnished and planned out just as carefully as the interior.”

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