A home is more than just a house; it is the landscape around the house too. With this premise author, Julie Moir Messervy, takes the reader of Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love through the process of turning the property around the house into a landscape that provides pleasure for both living and playing. She explores this idea of a landscape as a pleasure ground and explains how to organize and personalize the spaces around the house to turn them into a home outside.
Messervy sets forth a six step process that hinges on key “pleasure principles”. The first step is to analyze the existing site and imagine the ideal site. One of the most intriguing presentations is the discussion of an ideal site showing a series of photographic pairs. Each pair shows aesthetic alternatives using examples from various landscapes; for example, contemplative or social, intimate or immense, representational or abstract. By viewing the pairs and choosing the alternative that is most pleasing, readers can gain insight into what type of landscape is going create the most pleasurable experience outside their home.
The next “pleasure principle”, which the author calls “Big Moves”, deals with choosing a layout and arrangement of spaces that determine “the look” of the landscape. Other principles that are considered include creation of comfort zones, movement through the landscape, the placement of objects into a harmonious whole, and the inclusion of sensory pleasures such as scents and sounds. The last section of the book shows how the design process worked with one small property, a cottage in the woods.
Many photographs and diagrams are included to provide inspiration as the reader works through the text material. As beautiful and inspirational as the photographs are they are not well integrated with the main text. On the other hand, the captions by the photographs could serve as a mini-text for those who don’t want to read the heavier material.
Home Outside presents a unique approach to designing the landscape around a house. It focuses on the individual and how he/she feels about every part of the landscape experience which can result in a very personalized and satisfying landscape. If you are looking for a cookbook approach that gives you recipes from which to choose, this is not the book for you, but if you want to explore aesthetics and the emotional aspects of landscape choices this is an excellent resource.