The summer months are here, and it’s getting hot, hot, hot! With the different Qs we all have to deal with, lucky are those who have an exterior domestic space to beat the heat, enjoy nature, and get that much-needed Vitamin D. Whatever kind of exterior space you have, make the most of it to welcome the summer!
Exterior Domestic Spaces
There are many names of exterior spaces in homes around the world. Homes in temperate countries have exterior domestic spaces like winter garden, garden conservatory, or sunroom, to name a few. But let us talk only about what is familiar to the Filipinos, or those terms that are built for homes in tropical countries.
Here are the definitions of the more common ones we find in the country.
A porch is a covered space that projects from the main building, and can be enclosed either by railings, columns or screens that extends also from the main structure. Porches can be small or big, depending on the home and the function that the residents want for it.
Usually it is located at the ground level in front of the house. Sometimes, one is also found at the back of the house (back porch). A porch provides shelter and a transitional space for people before they come into the home.
A traditional farmhouse in North America has a big and wide porch that is used as an additional living space. It increases curb appeal especially if it is decorated prettily. This type of porch can have sofas, chairs, tables, even swings.
Here in the Philippines, porches are compact like the one in the image above. If your home has a porch, doll it up with a special plant or two.
A terrace is a level, flat, raised area which is attached to or detached from the house. Usually the floor is tiled or paved. It can be located at the ground level of the home, or as part of the garden.
A terrace can also be atop a building which has a flat roof, where it is then called a roof terrace. The Spaniards brought to the Philippines a term for it: azotea.
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A veranda is a Portuguese term which means an open, roofed walkway (or gallery) which is partially enclosed by railings. It is a long porch that could wrap around the front, sides, and back of the house, and is located at the ground floor. One can access the veranda from different parts of the house.
Its function is to have a space that connects indoors and outdoors. A veranda is a place where you can enjoy nature while still being protected from the elements like the blazing sun or pouring rain.
Another exterior domestic space that is prized in a megacity like Manila is the balcony. Not all condo buildings have balconies. If they do, these are offered at a premium.
A balcony is located at the upper floor of a building and is affixed to the structure. This is a space that is accessible through only one room, unlike the multi-access of a terrace or a veranda. For safety purposes, a balcony is enclosed by metal railings, glass or concrete. Depending on the view and the size, it can either be a place which can be used to relax in, or (if you’re not the type to appreciate it) as additional storage space for detritus, or even as a place to hang the laundry (if allowed by your home owners’ association, that is).
There is also the Juliet balcony (or balconet) which is just a very narrow balcony with metal railings affixed outside french doors. Having plants in window boxes can make it a soothing sight for those inside the home and also for passersby who care to look up.
There are some similar structures that are enclosed by concrete parapets instead of metal railings. These are usually used as a space for the external unit of a split system air conditioner. However, these wouldn’t be called the romantic Juliet balcony for sure.
A deck, an external space big enough to entertain in, is an elevated platform that adjoins the house, and is usually roofless. The materials commonly used are wood planks or timber.
However, since we know that the sun in our part of the world can get ruthless as the summer months roll in, invest in parasols or think about constructing a permanent roof. Another idea would be to use the more romantic pergola, which is a horizontal trellis supported by posts. You can train plants to cover the latticework and in the future, when they have grown, you can have those plants providing some shade overhead.
Usually, a deck is built at the back of the house. If you have a garden, then think about planting trees near the deck.
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A patio is an outdoor space in the backyard or back garden which is used for dining or recreation. It usually has a concrete surface, but some could be paved with tiles, stones, or gravel.
The image above shows that you don’t have to spend much to make a patio. If you have an available (gravel) surface in your property, just plonk down a table and a few chairs, and voila, you’ve got yourself a patio.
In traditional Spanish and Latin American architecture though, the Spanish word patio means an internal courtyard located inside a building that opens up to the sky , which sounds more like an…
The traditional meaning of patio in Spanish architecture is an evolution of the Roman atrium which is a rectangular, central area (either open-air or covered by a skylight). An atrium provides ventilation and light to the house.
Usually there are plants that can be found in the atrium. This type of indoor garden increases the connection with nature without you having to step out of the house.
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A lanai is situated on the ground floor adjacent to the house. It is a type of roofed veranda or porch that usually has a foundation made of concrete. Tropical furniture made of rattan, for example, and bright-colored decor finish the look. This exterior domestic space is an outdoor area that although covered, has neither screens nor walls.
Lanai is a Hawaiian term that has been adopted in Florida, probably because both places share a similar number of days of sunshine per year, estimated at 65% of the year.
The Importance of Exterior Domestic Spaces
An exterior domestic space can bring better ventilation and more natural light into the house. It can also increase the footprint of your living space. Now is the time to take on this DIY project if you can afford it because work from home and online distance learning are going to continue in the foreseeable future. Having a bigger floor area increases your flexibility.
After more than a year of quarantine, most of us know by now how important it is to have a place in our homes that connects us to the outdoors. You can beautify a space even if you only have a shoestring budget. Recycle, repurpose, upcycle, go for secondhand, beg, borrow, and barter.
Plants are your best bet to make your space warm and welcoming. Go for the common, local, hardy ones. Choose edible ones too.
How to Minimize Mosquitoes and Flies in your Exterior Spaces
Speaking of plants, there are some plants that repel mosquitoes and flies, so do have those in your external space. You can also paint the ceilings and walls with Boysen BUG OFF.
BUG OFF is Boysen’s anti-insect paint. It is a water-based, low-VOC paint that is scientifically proven to kill disease-causing insects like mosquitoes for at least two years after application. It is recommended for walls and ceilings inside the house where it can kill insects that use these surfaces for resting. It can also be used on exterior surfaces where harmful insects may gather.
Read more about Boysen BUG OFF in this link to find more about its uses, safety, and how to apply it.
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