In our busy days and hurried lifestyle, it is always nice to come home to design qualities that make you enjoy life. The emphasis on our outdoor home has become a place for relaxation,  rejuvenation and inspired thought, and designer, Claudia Schmutzler has accomplished just that with her ‘Floating Windows’ creations.

Today, I sit down with Claudia and find out her inspiration for this gorgeous design idea while incorporating green practices and reclaimed materials to create these one of a kind outdoor rooms for her clients.

1.)  FRESHOME: Claudia your floating windows concept is gorgeous! Can you tell Freshome readers how you came up with the idea to warm resident’s outdoor homes?

CLAUDIA SCHMUTZLER: Well, the whole thing was a lucky accident! Years ago, I had some work done at my house and there was a little “oops” concerning the windows. So, at the end of the project I had these four interesting windows that couldn’t be used in the house, but I still wanted to put them to use. When I built a deck, I decided to hang them from an overhead beam and build a bench underneath. A grapevine is entwined across the tops of the windows, and people just loved it.

2.)  FRESHOME: Over the past years there is a greater emphasis to make our outdoor homes more inviting, relaxing, and sanctuary-like. Why do you think the trend is so popular and how’s the trend inspired your designs?

CLAUDIA SCHMUTZLER: What I’ve noticed is a change of interests. People don’t want the pool because maintenance is time-consuming and expensive. But they want to be outside, create a place where people can sit and talk, and enjoy some nice landscaping. It’s becoming more about home and family and less about replicating some glamorous magazine photo. People want a space where they will create great memories of family gatherings, being outside among trees and beautiful surroundings. With a little thought and study, it becomes easy to create a space that you don’t have to work to keep up, but works with you and helps you simplify your life so you can just live. You can check out some of my designs here.

3.)  FRESHOME: When you create outdoor patios and living areas, gorgeous redwood looks prevalent in many of your designs. What characteristics do you love about redwood, and why do you prefer to use it?

CLAUDIA SCHMUTZLER: I’ve always loved redwood! I grew up in New England, where much of the natural landscape was rugged and hardy. As a lover of trees and nature, I do everything I can to incorporate that into my outdoor living space. I use redwood in all my decks at home, because California redwood is resilient to insects, and even fire retardant to a certain degree. It doesn’t rot like some softer woods. Plus, living in California and being a locavore, you can’t get any more local than redwood. My lumber comes from The California Redwood Company — which I love because they offer so many different styles and wood appearances for the customer.

4.)   FRESHOME: Here at Freshome we are always excited to bring the readers, green ideas and inspiration. How do you take advantage of using local items in your outdoor room designs?

CLAUDIA SCHMUTZLER: I’m all for recycling, and using your imagination. In fact, you can be super-local by repurposing things you already have to bring the wow factor and create a natural extension of your personality; and it doesn’t cost you a thing to do it. Visiting local salvage yards is another place to find hidden treasures. But the best thing you can do it think outside of the box, let go of thinking what “belongs” outside and think about how you want to live outside. And the possibilities just grow from there.

5.)   FRESHOME: I love the look of many of your floating window designs Claudia. Where do you source your windows from, and how do you know what aesthetic coordinates with the client’s outdoor home?

CLAUDIA SCHMUTZLER: I’ll source my windows from just about anywhere! Once to save some costs, I used four extra windows I happen to have in my garage from a project long since finished. The windows I use typically are all custom made to order to suit the project and client tastes.

When it comes to windows, there are limitless design possibilities from how they are mounted, whether or not you put glass panes in – and there are a hundred different types of glass you could pick to put into a window – whether you paint the windows bright colors or leave the wood bare to weather.

6.)   FRESHOME: You also enjoy building entire outdoor experiences, such as pizza ovens and summer kitchens. Tell the readers how your outdoor creations encompass a variety of components to unify the space for the client.

CLAUDIA SCHMUTZLER: When working with a new space, I like the client to visualize what they want to see when they’re inside their homes looking out into their yards. What will invite them and their guests out, be beautiful to look at? Outdoor kitchens are very popular now; in fact, after visiting a great restaurant in Maine that had this great pizza oven, I came home and built a new pizza oven from the ground up, and then decked around it. It’s become the focal point from both inside of my house and when you’re outside. I designed a built-in hearth where people can sit, and placed a barbeque under a canopy of trees, so there’s more than one place where people can mingle, gather, and really do something or just nothing.

7.)   FRESHOME: Freshome readers always like good do-it-yourself tips to help in their own homes. What tips can you offer them to brighten up their outdoor homes, even if they only have a small area to work with?

CLAUDIA SCHMUTZLER: The first thing, especially with a small space, is to consult your city’s code for decks. Many people assume you have to set back from the property line, but in most cities, you can build right up to the fence with a few provisions. And think vertically! You can add lots of visual interest above a railing line, whether you add your own floating windows, mount a trellis, or add an arbor that can be a gateway to the rest of your yard. You can still mix up your materials in creative ways, even if you don’t have a lot of space. If you have a stone patio, you can soften the space with some lush plantings in some bright planters, and add some great California Redwood benches, and with the variety of outdoor fabrics you can inject personality through small accessories or even a set of curtains for your floating windows!

8.)   FRESHOME: Claudia, your floating windows and outdoor designs are refreshing and inspiring, tell us what you think of the Freshome website.

CLAUDIA SCHMUTZLER: Thank you! And in browsing the Freshome website, I must return the compliment: browsing your site may be the fastest trip around the world I could take. There’s something that speaks to every style, and still touches on the sensibility that, no matter where you make your home, there’s the instinct to make the most out of its’ functionality without losing a sense of welcome or your personality. And that’s exactly what we do for our clients every day.