Fave Lifestyles


I get it, everyone is sick and tired of hearing about COVID and the massive and diverse impact it’s having on our lives. It has especially put a damper on our social lives – curtailing our ability to spend time with friends and family and challenging the connections that are so important to our lives. But isn’t it interesting how this pandemic is, in certain cases, shifting some of our thoughts and ideas for the better? For instance, pre-pandemic, entertaining outside in the Pacific Northwest in the winter months wasn’t really a viable option. But today – it’s totally en vogue!

So as a way to embrace change and celebrate this new-ish lifestyle, I’ve been reading more about outdoor living – specifically a Nordic concept called friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv). This expression literally translates as ‘open-air living’. If the Swedes, Nords & Danes figured out a way to do it with temperatures well below freezing, surely there is a way for us here in the Pacific Northwest to embrace this concept. Let’s just wrap our arms around these crazy pandemic restrictions and come out the other side with a new-found appreciation for year-round, outdoor living!

Friluftsliv is used to explain anything from commuting by bike, enjoying a lakeside sauna, a hike, or simply relaxing in a mountain hut. As an interior designer, I wanted to take this concept and apply it to our homes and entertaining. You can even take this concept beyond entertaining and apply it to activities we’ve typically done indoors such as yoga, meditation, workouts, knitting, etc. How many of us are looking for extra space and hadn’t even considered that it could be outdoors?

Have you, like me, found yourself dreaming about all those people living in warmer climates like California and Florida where outdoor living can be enjoyed year-round? How can we possibly replicate this in the chilly Pacific Northwest? Intrigued by the idea – and hopeful that I could create exterior environments throughout the year, even post-COVID restrictions – I started brainstorming some ideas for how to expand one’s home to better embrace the great outdoors.

Start first by thinking about the orientation of your home. Is there a side that gets better sun in the winter months? Is there a side that is more protected from the wind and rain? These are just a few ideas to consider as you begin to evaluate your home – some quite simple and inexpensive, others more involved:

• Add on a new deck or patio
• Add a pergola or awning over an existing deck
• Screen in a porch
• Add on a sunroom
• Build a pre-fab out-building on your property – think she/he-shed
• Build a greenhouse


Outdoor Living
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Some additional considerations:

  • Heating & Ventilation: Since you will likely want to have this area heated in some way, be sure to think about ventilation and fire safety. There are lots of options – from a gas or electric firepit, to a freestanding or wall mounted heater, or a heater that’s mounted on a wall or the ceiling area.

If this is an area that you need to use both for those days when it’s sunny and warm and when it’s cold or raining, consider a structure that has a removable roof or a roof that opens and closes so that you have the flexibility of enjoying the sun or being sheltered from the rain.  Consider a product called KnotWood that produces a metal product that looks like wood but doesn’t have the pitfalls of wood (i.e. the moss that can accumulate in our rainy PNW). Or check out www.EquinoxRoof.com. They make another louvered roof system that can be open or closed!

  • Lighting: consider lighting for tasks/activities, ambience, and way-finding. You could string lights across the ceiling, or they even make outdoor floor and table lamps. For something with more ambience, consider the electric candles in a few lanterns or tiki torches.
  • Kitchen: consider adding a BBQ area, pizza oven, sink, undercounter refrigerator, and even a dishwasher. Have plenty of counter space for food prep. Really take indoor living outside!
  • Big Luxuries: Think about adding a TV https://www.bestproducts.com/tech/gadgets/g1101/best-outdoor-tvs/.
    How about adding outdoor speakers for your favorite music. And better yet, add a hot tub or sauna!
  • Little Luxuries: consider upholstered furniture instead of wood or plastic. Stock up on individual blankets/throws, hand-warmers for pockets, heated slippers for you and guests. Don’t forget hot chocolate, hot cider or hot toddies!


What’s one quick and simple thing you could do right now to start moving your activities outdoors? I’m going to start by purchasing an outdoor heater. Tell me what you’re thinking about changing in your lives to get yourself outdoors and taking in some fresh air. I’d love to hear about how you embrace the outdoors beyond the summer months. We might just surprise ourselves!

Melinda Slater

Melinda Slater

Interior Designer


Melinda Slater

Melinda is the Principal Interior Designer and Owner of Slater Interiors in Mill Creek, Washington. She specializes in helping clients fall in love with the home they already have, as well as helping boutique businesses bring that extra personal touch to the office, employees, and their clients.

Through her interior architectural space planning and design work, she helps clients discover the potential hiding in their home and work – no matter how cramped, outdated, or non-functional it may feel right now. With a combination of values-driven creative thinking, collaborative planning, and an emphasis on sustainability, she can help transform any space into a sanctuary.

She doesn’t believe in a magic design bullet or quick fixes. What she does believe in is listening, learning, and encouraging her clients to dream big!

With 15 years in the industry, Melinda knows what’s possible for your home and can help you see it too.

Melinda has an AA in Interior Design from Bellevue College. Prior to becoming an interior designer, she worked as a licensed massage therapist for 12 years, the last two years focused on helping hospice patients find comfort and relaxation through touch. It was through this work with people at the end of their lives that Melinda became focused on the importance of the environment we live in and the need to be surrounded by beauty and inspiration as we live – and as we die. She has taken this philosophy and approaches every project with it in mind – working with clients to build a home that is representative of who they are and how they want to express themselves.

Melinda grew up on a small farm in Moscow, Idaho and her deep love of animals and the planet remains to this day. Her motto: ‘a girl can always dream!’


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