View of pool and brick patio in Palmetto Bluff designed by J Banks Design Group

Southern Coastal Living: Indoor-Outdoor Living

We are so very fortunate with our climate in the South, especially along the coast, which permits relaxed, indoor-outdoor living bringing us into nature on a daily basis. Many native species of flora and fauna flourish in this part of the country, where gardens are the passion of many. Our harbors and the ocean are so full of bounty and beauty. On Hilton Head Island, where development is planned and much of the land protected, our indigenous wildlife has a safe home. How we interact with the outdoors, how we extend our living and entertaining spaces beyond the walls of our houses, how we ease ourselves into the landscape are questions my designers and I think through with every home that we work on, including our own.

A collage of outdoor spaces in a lowcountry setting exemplifying the indoor-outdoor lifestyle of Palmetto Bluff and the Low country


We have a long tradition in the South of porches, verandas, and patios, the “rooms”—covered or open to the sky, screened or glassed in, extending from the front, sides, and/or back of a house—where we daily spend time. When I began working as a designer, I could furnish a porch with a few rocking chairs and that would do. No longer. In recent years, these exposed spaces for dining and entertaining have become far more significant to the design of a home than they were even just a decade ago—and far more various. Now people want a grill area, a pool and pool house, an outdoor kitchen, an outdoor fireplace, a fire pit, and even a dock if they happen to be on the water. These amenities are now usual in new construction. For people with existing homes, we’re finding ways to enhance and add to the exterior spaces that they already have to broaden their options out-of-doors.

Because we spend so much time on our porches, I prefer to think of them as additional living rooms. I design them accordingly, with furnishings that are stylish and comfortable and that carry the style and palette of the interior outside. On our porch, for example, which opens directly off the living room, we can make a cozy seating area for four, or open it up easily with pull-up chairs to accommodate six or eight. The ottomans allow us to expand the options further, and the swing—well, it’s a hit with everyone who visits, especially in August! For accessories, we have collections of everything we find out on the beach, from shells and driftwood to sea glass and other items that wash in with the tide.


Excerpt from Southern Coastal Living: Stylish Lowcountry Homes by J. Banks Design, by Joni Vanderslice.


About Melissa