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How to Bring the Outdoors In

Does the dark and cold of winter really bring you down? Is it hard to get out of bed in the morning, or do you change into jammies and crawl back under the covers as soon as work is over? That’s no way to spend several months of your life, every year! Try these tips to bring some of the outdoors in to your home, even in the middle of February.

Bring in natural light

You still need your vitamin D fix, and it’s harder to get when you’re hardly outside at all. Do you have a wall where you could install windows, or make the windows bigger? Maybe a skylight works best for you. Even easier, choose a front door with windows in it to let the light find you.

Pot some plants

With all that light coming in, you’ll be able to grow some lovely houseplants. When people are regularly exposed to nature, they not only feel better overall but also experience reduced stress levels, stronger immune responses, increased self-esteem, and reduced anxiety.

Use natural materials

Start with wood, as it can be used everywhere: floors and furniture, cabinets and trim, and in your home décor. Stone looks beautiful when used for bath and kitchen counters, trimming the fireplace, and as part of a water feature. Shells, crystals, cork, bamboo, and dried flowers are also ways to get more exposure to nature when you’re stuck inside.

Use earthy, organic textures

Cotton, wool, wicker, raffia, flax, hemp, jute, silk — each has its own texture, and each is a natural fiber. Wicker baskets, wool rugs, and silk throw pillows are just some of the ways to incorporate these elements.

Natural scents and sounds

Don’t forget the other senses! Natural smells such as those from sandalwood diffusers, oil sticks, incense, and live flowers (although many will be scentless as winter blooms are generally forced in a greenhouse; sniff strongly before purchase) may call you back to a pleasant outdoor experience. Sound can also evoke fond memories. A tabletop water fountain (or full-size if your home can handle it!); windchimes inside and out; rain sticks; and wave, rain, or whale sounds are also soothing and comforting.

Pick the right palette

Let nature inspire your home’s color scheme. Think of coastal blues and creams, woodsy browns and greens, and bold splashes of color inspired by your garden. (White kitchens and grey rooms are so last year!)

Blues, greens, and warm neutrals are the hot new colors for 2021. Check out variations from Behr, Benjamin Moore, and, of course, Pantone (which threw in a bright yellow for good measure).

Embrace natural shapes and patterns

Big floral prints, art depicting landscapes and nature scenes, and decorative architectural flourishes inspired by flora and fauna are more ways to expose yourself to nature when you’re hunkering down at home. From fish-shaped guest soaps to palm leaf-shaped fan blades, arched doorways to wrought iron shaped into flowers and vines, there are so many ways to invite the outdoors in!


Inspiration Spotlight

Image credit: Marriott

Architects and home designers often are inspired by the natural world. A fun example of whimsical, nature-inspired architecture is the work of 19th-century Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, whose buildings are considered unique and outside of any distinct architectural style. Take a note from his book as you consider ways to let nature and the outdoors inspire your home’s layout and finishes.


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