Nature can lift our spirits, and spending time outside is undeniably good for our wellbeing. But why does all that have to end when we come inside?
It doesn’t, insists stylist and interiors expert Victoria Harrison, who says it’s easy to draw design inspiration from the natural world, through what’s known as ‘biophilic design’ – weaving nature into the home environment by increasing natural light, maximising outside views, and using natural colours, textures and patterns in interior spaces.
Harrison, who’s written the book Rewild Your Home to explain how to introduce nature into your house, says: “Living in connection with nature can help make us happier and healthier. Spending time outdoors has been proven to improve our wellbeing and these benefits can also be brought indoors.
“Rewilding your home simply means living in tune with the seasons, noticing the small changes outside your window and bringing elements of this into your home. This can be done easily and inexpensively with a few small decor updates – from decorating with natural colours and materials, to bringing in seasonal fragrances and boosting natural light, there are a host of ways to rewild your living space and invite nature in.”
Harrison shares six quick ideas to help create a wilder home…
1. Use a natural colour palette
“The natural world has the best colour combinations and, using nature-inspired colours can help you feel the benefits of a wild landscape, even when you’re indoors. Choose colours that reflect the landscape directly outside your window for the biggest impact. In a coastal area, this might mean cool greys, whites, silvers and blues. While in a woodland or inland area, you could use warm neutrals, deep greens and soft creams, to reflect the colours outside.”
Try using the same colour palette throughout your home for a cohesive effect, notes Harrison, but vary the percentages of each colour in each room for variety. “For example, with a coastal colour palette of blues and whites with accents of silver and sand, you could use more of the lighter tones in the rooms you use in the mornings, adding the darker shades as accents. Then you can flip the balance in the rooms you use in the evening, with a higher percentage of the darker tones, just bringing in small accents of the paler shades.”
2. Make a natural room fragrance
Scent is an often-overlooked element of home decor, but home fragrance can have a big effect on the way your home makes you feel. Harrison suggests a quick and fun way to bring seasonal scent into your home is to make a stovetop potpourri. “To do this, simply chop some seasonal fruits, herbs and spices, add them to a pan of water and gently bring it to the boil. Keep it simmering to release the fragrance. In spring and summer, use refreshing scents like lemon, mint and rosemary for an uplifting burst of fragrance. In the cooler months, choose warming herbs like cinnamon, ginger and star anise for a comforting layer of scent.”
3. Green up your view
Studies have shown that even a view of nature can have a powerful effect on how we’re feeling. Consider the windows in your home as picture frames, and think about what they’re framing as you walk around the room.
“If your windows overlook a garden, bring plant pots and greenery right up to the outside of the window where possible,” she says, “and try to consider your garden as an extension of your home, rather than two separate spaces.
“If you don’t have a garden, add window boxes to the outside of your window frames and fill them with pollinator-friendly plants, to bring colour and wildlife closer to you. You can also frame your view by placing indoor plants next to windows or doors, to create a cloak of greenery around your window. This will help to blur the boundary between indoors and out.”
Some houseplants can also remove toxins from the air, helping to reduce indoor air pollution and keep your home healthy, so layer them up for a fresh burst of greenery.
4. Reflect the sun
Drawing more natural light into your home is another way to bring the outside in. Positioning furniture close to windows and keeping windowsills clear can maximise any available light source. You can also reflect light by using light paint colours near windows and light sources.
Placing mirrors or mirrored furniture opposite windows can also bounce more natural light into a room, while reflective mobiles near a light source will catch natural light and sprinkle it around a room. Try a string of faceted glass droplets or a mobile of brass discs near a window, to catch and refract the sun, and cast playful reflections and patterns.
5. Celebrate wild shapes
“There are no straight lines in nature; from the arc of a tree branch to the meandering course of a river, nature has a way of softening and curving any hard edges,” says Harrison. “Bringing these organic curves and soft shapes into your home is a quick and easy way to forge a link to the outside. Choose furniture with curved edges, add circular mirrors or round rugs and cushions. Look for furniture with a wobbly or ‘live’ edge (this means an edge that has been left as it was found naturally, and not planed and straightened) and celebrate the handmade.”
6. Choose natural materials
Reducing the use of plastics and man-made materials in your home, and using natural fibres and materials instead, can help to rewild your indoor space and create a healthy home environment. “Studies have shown that some natural materials, such as wood, can improve human health and wellbeing by lowering blood pressure and stress levels, so bring in a piece of wooden furniture, or wooden decor items for a happy and healthy home,” Harrison adds.
“As well as wood, other natural materials such as rattan, wicker or bamboo will also help connect your home with the natural world outside. When it comes to textiles, look for wool, jute, sisal, seagrass or linen, all of which will bring a lovely layer of texture and natural colour to your home.”
Rewild Your Home by Victoria Harrison is published by Quadrille, priced £18. Available now.