This outdoor dining lanai connects to the living room, master suite and guest bedrooms through broad sliding doors.

Integrating the outdoors into one’s home can measurably improve happiness and well-being, according to health experts. Contact with nature can also restore focus, decrease stress, and lighten anxiety in children, adults and kupuna alike — all increasingly important in today’s high-tech world. Here are a few design tips from the team at Graham Builders for expanding your home beyond its walls.

These tall windows allow light to flood the interior living spaces.


Work with your architectural designer to incorporate nature in the structure of your home.

“Natural lighting should be at the top of your list,” said Evan Fujimoto, president of Graham Builders. “Flood interior spaces with indirect sunlight. Transom and dormer windows allow you to see the sky, and bring color and light into a room.”

Interiors filled with natural light tend to blur the line between indoors and out.

“One of our clients was determined to bring the outdoors into his rebuilt Manoa home,” recalled Fujimoto. “We designed his living room with glass windows running along two walls. Even the second-floor rail was made of glass, allowing the lush outdoors to be enjoyed on both levels of the home.”


Following Fujimoto’s coaching, Graham Builders’ architectural team works natural ventilation into every design, ensuring that breezes flow through each home.

“Hawaii is blessed with the steady presence of trade winds! Natural ventilation feels completely different from air conditioning,” Fujimoto said. Additionally, he adds, open windows mean unpleasant odors have an escape route.


For easiest movement between home and yard, install French doors or wide sliding glass doors.

“That’s especially important when your lanai includes a dining area, or if you like to entertain,” Fujimoto said. “Also, covered lanais are more inviting and comfortable than open patios, especially when you add a ceiling fan.”

Outdoor kitchens and cooking areas can redefine the meaning of “eating out” for your entire family.

“Add an outdoor sound system, torches and garden lights,” Fujimoto suggested, “for a spectacular al fresco dining experience in your own backyard.”

Founded in 1990, Graham Builders remains the only contractor in Hawaii honored by the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Business Ethics.

Extra-wide sliding pocket doors allow Hawaii’s trade winds and brilliant sunlight to fill interior spaces.