Flooring perfect for an open plan indoor-outdoor space

Renovating your home and garden in 2015? Jennifer Newton unveils the latest trend for indoor-outdoor flooring

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The first time I experienced the wow-factor of flooring effortlessly flowing from inside to out was on a holiday in Noosa in Queensland, Australia. The stone flooring simply carried on to the exterior space, perfectly linking the house to the great outdoors. This particular anecdote comes from the early 90s, and in the northern Australian climate, it was considered the norm.

Over on the other side of the globe, designers in the USA have been creating room schemes by adopting a similar ‘flowing’ fashion for years, and today it is quickly becoming the way to design an open-plan home here in the UK, where outdoor space is valuable and days spent in the garden are to be treasured.

To meet this growing demand, two UK-based flooring manufacturers, Marshalls and Bradstone, have both launched their new ranges for 2015 that can be used both inside and out.

Bradstone’s new porcelain range, priced from £55 per m2, features the stylish Mode collection, which is anti-slip and stain and weather resistant, so will look great for years. A higher quality alternative to concrete and natural stone, the porcelain tiles are an ideal option for both indoor and outdoor use and are available in six colours. James Cousins, managing director for Bradstone, explains, ‘Porcelain is smoother than concrete and natural stones, making it suitable for indoors and outside with seamless transitions between the spaces. It offers a high thermal mass meaning heat is retained if used with underfloor heating indoors but it’s also capable of handling cooler outdoor conditions.’

Another style to look out for is Marshalls’ Symphony Vitrified paving range. It is a toughened ceramic stone that absorbs little or no moisture, avoiding unsightly moss and algae, and, like porcelain, there’s a choice of smooth or gentle riven textures for easy cleaning. Priced from £50 per m2, it’s suitable for modern and traditional properties alike, given the range of eight colours and finishes available.

So what should you consider before installing an indoor-to-outdoor floor? First, think about the colour and finish you’d like and select one that will work in both spaces. Ultimately, the colour choice will be a driving factor. Grey has taken over as the new neutral and with good reason when it comes to outdoor rooms. Landscape architect Paul Hervey-Brookes says, ‘There has been a major shift from traditional sandstone colours to tonnes of graphite. Interior decorators have opted for grey over beige for some time as a neutral backdrop, but grey is also brilliant outdoors as it brings out the green in plants in bright or dull light.’ Also think about whether you want underfloor heating installed indoors, the height of your flooring and whether you can maintain a seamless level from inside to outside, plus how you will use the outdoor space.

Indeed, many other retailers also offer indoor/outdoor flooring affordably. But with trusted brand names like Bradstone and Marshalls investing in the latest styles to get the products needed to suit our climate, it’s safe to say this trend is here to stay, and you won’t have to travel all the way to Australia to experience the benefits!

Are you planning a similar renovation? Need advice or have photos to share? Let us know in the comments below?…

Photograph: Just out, Mode porcelain flooring, priced from £55 a square metre, comes in six colours.