How to Design a Rooftop Terrace – Tips from Top Interior Designers
11 Mins Read
January 17th, 2024
Rooftop terraces create a seamless cadence between the rooftop and the exterior, provide space for multiple uses, and set the tone for spending relaxing or a fun-filled time with friends and family.
Depending on where your client’s space is, and the residents of their home, you can do a great deal of design and give them several heartwarming options. From planning the design, layout, and floor plan, to choosing the right materials that agree with the external temperature, catering to comfort, and adding a touch of luxury to the terrace are some of the things that can set you apart as a designer and make you a preferred rooftop terrace designer.
This blog will help you get the basics right, explore how best you can utilize every bit of space on the terrace, and make your client’s home look like it jumped straight out of a movie.
Jump ahead to:
For centuries, people have fallen in love with decorative outdoor spaces and spent lavishly to make their rooftop space come alive. Sure, your client would have scrolled Pinterest and watched trending social media outdoor living trends and come up with many possible inclusions in their terrace:
But, before you whip out your design tool and get started, here are a few questions you need to ask yourself, and possibly, the client:
Incorporate thoughtful elements of the landscape in the design, be it the sights, sound, and texture. Depending on the landscape, you may recommend natural wood, stone, linens, earthenware, ephemeral crystals, and candles for an organic touch.
The colors, patterns, shapes, and motion you use make or break your rooftop terrace. No matter what look or feel you wish to set, the heartwarming lighting will add depth and elegance to the terrace.
Your rooftop should be an extension of the indoors, or in some cases, the penthouse, while also being a spectacular standalone space in itself. For this, your first duty is to ensure there’s an inevitable, smooth transition from the interior to the exterior.
Following a uniform color palette, and maintaining similar material finishes and styles in the terrace is a great way to create the much-desired flow between the two spaces. Another method is to install glass windows to open or close depending on the weather. You can also have a concrete lattice installed (depending on the layout of the house) to ensure privacy, control heat, and water, and still allow uninterrupted air circulation.
Image credits: pexels.com
A rolling planter is a cool and pleasant addition for creepers to grow, to show a terrace garden when it can also serve as a privacy screen. You can install metal screens to partition two rooms that ensure privacy and create visual texture. Sheer fabrics also make a good choice to show a rich look and yet withstand the harsh climate of the outdoors.
A wooden rooftop deck is great for weaving the timelessness of the indoors and the wilderness of the outdoors together.
No matter where the home is, it’s prone to receive heat and light, moisture, winds, and dust. You will need to take these climatic factors into account before you embark on a terrace design project, as the temperature, ventilation, and lighting will make a huge difference when you’re planning a swimming pool, a dining area, or elements of relaxation.
Some options to consider to prevent adverse weather from invading your client’s beautiful evenings are:
Cushion-covered lounge chairs that look out at the exterior melt stress away, offering a calming view. You can also have custom cushions with vivid colors and attractive patterns placed on the lounges and other seating areas, making the entire place look comfy and homey. To delineate spaces on the terrace, you can use contrasting furniture arrangements, like soft sofas, easy chairs, and pillows with bright accent colors, to create unique zones within the space. Other seating arrangements you can consider are comfortable chairs for a sitting terrace with a small coffee table in the middle. Also, a nice comfortable wooden furniture set with snug cushions.
Wrought-iron furniture cushioned with white cushions portrays elegance and a sophisticated look. When paired with amber-hued furniture, abstract furniture, and sculptures that reflect the shapes of the skyline, you would give the contemporary style a holistic makeover. For a country theme, pair white and metal, say a chunky concrete table, long-legged woven chairs, and a row of cute potted plants. Light a bunch of candles on the floor, or scented candles on the table, throw a few sweet-smelling flower petals, and spark a romantic setting.
Cozy armchairs and oversized sofas say stretches and destressing at the end of the day. For your client to have a casual, glorious time with their friends and family, design a compact daybed swing on the terrace overlooking their exterior, and they wouldn’t ever want to leave. For more eco-friendly material options, opt for wood fibers, eucalyptus, and faux wood. Hammocks are ideal to have in a home situated in a hot region. Afternoon naps, relaxed in the hammocks hit differently. They are economical, easy to install, and cradle the sleeper like no other.
A bar cart by the side of lounge chairs is the perfect companion to sip a glass of wine ease into the ambiance of the terrace and chill out with the family. Another way to make a congenial setting to serve drinks, you install a swan pond chair and a small table for drinks. Alternatively, you can have a portable beverage stand, and a removable serving tray with provisions to place cold bottles below.
To cook, BBQ, and make memories while your client cooks with their family, you can add luxurious cooking stations or a cooking nook, depending on how your client plans to have people over and cook on the terrace.
If you have the budget to work with, you can also present options of a standalone or a built-in stove or an outdoor grill machine, so your client can cook and dine with family while looking at the superb views their terrace offers.
If your client doesn’t want an elaborate outdoor kitchen cooking setup, suggest a low brick wall with a gas stove and minimal features. If you have the budget, go in for a full-blown countertop, with cherry wood cabinets, storage drawers, a stainless steel barbecue, and a built-in hood to whisk away the smoke. This kind of exterior cooking area makes for a warm contrariety when compared to the interior kitchen design.
To bring a little more variety to the dining area, you can place a concrete dining table near the pool, with cushioned benches with back support for extra seating. The contrast of texture looks marvelous at sunlight, and even more beautiful at sundown, and in the dark.
Or, you could throw in a wooden dining table with rich wooden chairs, and an antique bench to make room for the occasional or frequent guests who come by. For a more nature-inclined look to show the rooftop garden design with an appropriate irrigation system, add a wide, countryside dining table with simple natural accessories with white sea shells, bamboo candle holders, and richly colored dishes.
If your client wants to create an epic rooftop terrace dining environment, take the design up a notch, place a row of candles on the sidelines, bring a silver dining table, metal chairs, a calming glass water feature, and make halos around potted trees. To serve food buffet style, invest in a budget-friendly, multi-purpose console.
Your colors, although matched to the home’s interior, need to be more aligned with what feeling you want to induce in the people who frequent the terrace. For a warmer, yet enclosed feeling, use shades of green. Subdued colors also enable your client and their guests to wind down, and relax completely.
Place large paintings that decorate the stone walls of the terrace, and add a dollop of charm to the setting.
Nothing says over-the-top luxury like having an infinite pool wrapped around classical columns extended from the ceiling of the rooftop terrace. It is the perfect opportunity to blend in with nature, lose oneself, and regain the peace and tranquility your client wants at the end of the day.
The endless waters give you a profound connection with the natural elements near the home. A swimming pool, regardless of the size, is a focal point for all the furniture and zones to point at. Having a weather-resistant sofa with lime green or splashy colored cushions (which could be your client’s DIY project) is another addition that your client can use as a nice place to relax after a swim.
A fountain is a fresh way to enliven your terrace with water elements. Ensure you tile the base of the fountain to resemble ice and water and to glow when you illuminate it.
You can also recommend an in-built waterfall covered by low-voltage recess lighting to glam up the overall aesthetics of the terrace. Having several water elements in terms of swimming pools, fountains, etc is incredibly beneficial to regulate heat if your client lives in a hot and humid area.
Wooden furniture, when paired with a stone fireplace sets a rusty tone and a warm ambience. You can take the artistic part of the design a step further by incorporating a fireplace with a beam with plant designs that flow as part of the whole landscape design. A safe firepit is also an option that some homeowners consider.
Creepers and vines crawling on the pergolas add character to the terrace and accentuate the connection with nature. A row of potted plants with bright-colored flowers on ceramic pots (not plastic ones, since they trap heat) enliven the place.
You can also have columns on the terrace that you can either use to hang a canopy, awning or have vines climbing them. Create a trellis with creepers on them on the walls, and you don’t want a better decor item or a screen from the weather.
Task lights work great, as they focus illumination on one or a few spots on the terrace and allow room for the light-shadow play as well. A romantic chandelier atop the seating area makes the rooftop terrace look amenable and aglow.
Lamps on sculpted pillars along the sides give a timeless look. Long pendant lamps blend beautifully in the outdoor terrace and exude a soft, dreamy ambiance. If your client has a limited space, but plenty of decor ideas in mind, use a space-saving solution for lighting and decor – an urn-style plant holder and lamp. String lights across the walls of the rooftop terrace also look amazing.
Always make sure to install ceiling fans on the terrace. Although there’s room for air circulation on the terrace, you can’t know if there will be a pleasant breeze all the time. If your client’s home is almost always hot and humid, consider installing a lilypond umbrella with an auto tilt feature to control the shade the occupants receive.
You can also advise installing smart windows that control lighting and heat on the terrace, or indoors.
Given the variables you need to take into account before and during your process of designing terraces, you need accurate forethought, plan every inch of the space, and ensure your client’s budget is saved. Being the rooftop terrace you can’t make a mistake in calculation, color combination, outdoor furniture placement, or the overall scheme of things, or there’s a good chance people would prefer to stay indoors and not venture out to the terrace.
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The rooftop can be accessed by staircases, home elevators, or escalators. Regardless of the means, the point of entrance needs to be considered when planning the layout.
Ensure proper railings, non-slip flooring, securely held fixtures, weather-resistant materials, and adhere to local codes and laws.
Since the elements will be directly exposed to the sun, rain, and other weather conditions, it’s best to not have overly luxurious, flimsy, or irreplaceable items too far away on the terrace.
Porcelain/ceramic, natural stone, concrete pavers, hardwood, and faux grass are a few common rooftop terrace flooring options.
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