3D visualization representation of an open garden room

A 3D visualization image of an open garden room displaying the connection between interior renderings and the property’s surroundings. The imagery shows how these two aspects can work together to deliver better results in 3D renderings.

Putting Your Interior Visualization and Surroundings in Sync

Interior design, real estate, and marketing are just the top three fields where a high-quality picture is worth a thousand words. It might even be worth a thousand dollars if it’s really good. No price is too high when you have a picture that takes the viewer to another world.

That’s what great 3D renders do – convince the viewer that they are real.

Now take a look at the picture above and be honest about how you feel. Does it make you nostalgic for something you’ve never experienced? An image like this could make a person leave everything and move somewhere warm. You can hear the palm trees swaying in the breeze.

So what makes this image so powerful?

The best renders are photorealistic and feel entirely natural. A range of different elements was used to create this tropical heaven, a lot of them small and unnoticeable. Just look at the details – they create an illusion where light, wind, and textures are palpable.

The surroundings have a vital role in this – the sun, the palms, and the wind.

Today, we’ll discuss how the exterior fits into interior design and its place in rendering.

Why Does the Exterior Matter in Interior Renderings?

All objects exist in relation to their surroundings, which gives them shape, color, and texture. Without natural or artificial lighting, there would be no colors and shades. Movement, such as wind, affects how objects appear in the viewer’s eye from different angles.

Without this exterior, the interior design simply wouldn’t feel real.

The tropical open garden room from before is a great example of this.

More than realism, which we’ll talk about more later on, interior rendering needs to achieve a particular atmosphere. It’s crucial regardless of the field of application but is especially important in real estate and marketing. More often than not, 3D rendering needs to tell a story.

Though seen only through the windows and balconies, the exterior provides a necessary backdrop for the story that a CGI picture is trying to tell. Without this element, the interior wouldn’t feel as engaging and inviting. Here’s a little experiment to confirm this theory:

Just imagine the picture from above with windows closed.

Not quite the same appeal, right?

Three Approaches to the Surrounding Context

There are three ways to tackle the exterior in interior rendering:

Gray Blocks

Gray blocks are perhaps the easiest approach to the surrounding context building since it doesn’t require you to model the exterior from scratch. Like the other two approaches, it fills out the background and puts the focus on the main object, but the exterior is somewhat faded.


Photo-match is an extremely practical and effective way to solve the exterior problem. This method allows you to use a Google Maps image or drone photography to photo-match with the existing model and its surroundings in real life. A neat rendering trick.


Classic modeling requires time and effort but results in outstanding renderings. In urban surroundings, this approach really adds to the realism and complexity of the picture. It portrays the model in a way that’s both real and otherworldly, and the precision is unmatched.

Giving the Interior More Context Using the Surroundings

Weather conditions and the landscape often have a deep and decisive impact on the functionality and aesthetic of architectural structures. A sunkissed building emits one kind of atmosphere, whereas a building wet from rain evokes a different kind of emotion altogether.

Architectural contexts created by surrounding buildings play an essential role as they situate the interior in a real place. One look through the window is enough to tell whether the building is located in Gaudi’s Barcelona, the American South, or hypermodern Tokyo.

Again, this is crucial for understanding a specific design in its entirety.

The role of context in interior rendering is practical, but also more than that. A viewer needs to know that the interior exists in a real place. This context should also be easily recognizable and create a state of harmony or juxtaposition with the interior design in the picture.

Our tropical design would make no sense with the Eiffel Tower looming just outside the windows.

To perceive things as real, we must be able to situate them in a logical context.

Outdoors Add to the Realism

Realism is the defining quality of rendering, its end goal, and its purpose.

Without realism, rendering would stray towards impressionism and showcase fiction. Without rendering, architects, designers, and engineers would not be able to express their yet-to-be-realized visions. Rendering is the first art form to bring imagination to fruition.

In a more practical sense, rendering is needed for selling the idea to clients. Without this visualization tool, designers would not be able to convey their message to non-designers and vice versa. Realism is the common language that enables the exchange of their ideas.

Without the exterior, the interior design would just feel unreal.

This seemingly non-essential element makes all the difference to a non-designer viewer looking for their dream home, a perfect getaway place, or something third. It contributes to the interior’s overall feel by shedding the right light and providing the best backdrop.

How the Two Affect Each Other

Rendering is rarely focused solely on the exterior. We’ve mentioned before that realism is the purpose of this visualization technique, and that’s because it is in our human nature to feel a sense of belonging. Through rendering, we ask ourselves – is this the right place for me?

We need realism to help us experience the place as if we were there.

Exterior design cannot convey this on its own – it’s less immersive because of its scale and grandeur. We can’t live in open spaces, be they populated or empty. Interior design is the soul of every exterior, just the same as the exterior design is the natural extension of any interior.


Personally, you may prefer a maximalist apartment to an open garden room and an urban setting to a tropical backdrop. However, excellent interior rendering isn’t about personal taste – it’s about making someone’s vision feel authentic and inviting. Exterior plays a vital role in this.

The swaying of the palms in the picture above is the perfect example.