To better enjoy balconies, gardens and terraces - says stylist Sissi Valassina - you can try to do the opposite of what they tell us: stop considering them an extension of the house

As a stylist and set designer, I know it well: the world has been explaining to us for years that our outdoor spaces – from the terrace to the patio, from garden to a simple balcony – they can and should be transformed into an extension of our home.

And this certainly made sense when, years ago, it was difficult to conceive the outdoors as environments to be fully enjoyed.

But now everything has changed. In the city, but also in the countryside, by the sea and in the mountains: wherever we are, we desperately need to live in the open air. The last few years - read the pandemic - have meant that a 1 square meter balcony is transformed into an oasis of serenity.

If we design our outdoors too much, we lose the apparent chaos of nature

In love with our outdoors, we do everything to make it inhabitable, livable, tailor-made for us.

But what happens if we overdo it? That we lose the true value of being outdoors and that is the apparent chaos that nature gives us.

We also lose the role that nature can play in our daily lives.

For example, if we stop thinking of greenery only in a decorative way, we could grow plants useful for the proliferation of insects, bees, etc., and aromatic herbs and small vegetable gardens.

Even in tiny spaces it works! And, of course, it would be desirable to use plants that require little water.

In short, our outdoor spaces could be places halfway between home and nature: well-kept but not too tidy, full of unexpected, dreamy elements.

The rigor of the house does not work in a garden, which is all the more beautiful the more it is instinctive and speaks about us.

Where to start when designing a balcony, a terrace, a garden?

All of the above certainly does not mean that balconies, terraces, patios and gardens should not be thought of. In reverse.

But designing the outdoors means relying above all on emotions, sensations, chromatic and olfactory synaesthesias. And then, only as a second step, think of man-made objects: furnishings and accessories.

As a set designer, when I think of an outdoor space I often choose to resume the color palette of the house, perhaps adding a new contrasting colour. And then I start daring more. The link I'm looking for with interiors is not stylistic but sensorial: almost a quotation that then, when you start to range creatively, gradually fades away, leaving more and more space for nature.

Then I consider the perfumes: wisteria, roses, orange blossom, scented geraniums, lavender, rosemary, helichrysum. An olfactory microcosm that perhaps reminds us of a place of the heart. And the journey to well-being starts right here.

The images that illustrate this writing are part of the research that the author, stylist, carries out online. The sources, where present, are cited.