Positive Outdoor Space

Rather than treating the land around the house as waste space to be filled with an ocean of lawn and shrubs, arrange the house on the lot so that the outdoor space is useable space. While the idea of outdoor living is more popular in warmer climates, almost every climate has a few months a year that allow for outdoor living.  Even when outdoor living isn't possible, the view out the window allows outdoors can be appreciated all year long.

Make the views out the windows attractive, and build porch and patios in the sunny places  to be used when the weather is good.

The outdoor space needs to be integrated with the indoor space so that the two relate to each other.  The feeling of intimacy in the view should correspond to the feeling to intimacy in the room.  Make the views out bedroom rooms peaceful and private, and the ones out of the common areas have a view out on to the street so activity out there can be observed.  If there are sweeping views, make a special spot in the living room to enjoy it, rather than trying to take advantage of it everywhere.  Trying to take advantage of it everywhere makes it not special, when it fact it is.  A particular insidious problem is designing a house to take advantage of views while simultaneously violating other design patterns.  Examples abound:  houses with extensive west facing glass that have to hang shades over their view all afternoon during the summer or else their house overheats; houses that get no solar gain because their view isn't to the south. 

A connection to outdoors from the kitchen and living room are especially important to us as that’s where we spend a good part of our day, and although it is certainly nice to have a pleasant view from the home office, it can also be a distraction.  In bedrooms, privacy is important, and most people prefer to wake up to sunlight.  When a house is forced to be close to a street or a neighbors house, special care must be taken to get light without compromising privacy or noise impacts.