Instead of gathering with friends around our pools, grills and patios, many of us have spent the past few months quarantining within the confines of our homes. Now more than ever, our homes have become everything: living space, workspace and school, all in one. It’s easy to go stir-crazy, no matter how much sourdough bread we’ve baked.
I’ve found myself craving both a connection to the outdoors and a desire to bring the outdoors inside my home. Meandering strolls around my neighborhood or a day trip to wander the beaches of Carmel have been my saving grace through a long season of social distancing. I’ve walked, biked and hiked whenever I could.
It’s natural that we love being outside, but after being forced into our homes for so long, I’ve been reminded of the importance of also bringing the outdoors in – letting natural elements shape our homes in beautiful ways. These elements create a sense of tranquility both inside and outside the home.
I worked with a family who had a beautiful English garden in their backyard. We were inspired by the garden to adorn the sofa in a floral print and pair it with a more subdued rug and rattan cocktail table for a fresh look.
Another client had spent her summers in Colorado growing up and wanted to incorporate a natural element as a nod to her upbringing. We used birch branches connected by worn straps of leather to create a piece of art that hangs over a gray sofa.
I love a seamless flow between interior and exterior. From a design perspective, it all starts with light: I carefully consider the placement of windows and skylights to allow as much light as possible into the home. Fresh air and good natural light are vital to any home, even if it takes some creative design thinking to get there.
Consider your surroundings. If your home has beautiful views, landscaping or acreage, how can you bring those natural elements into your space? Floor to ceiling windows can capitalize on sweeping views from every room. An open floor plan and pocketing glass walls can connect your indoor living areas to an outdoor courtyard or patio.
You can combine contemporary design with more organic components that suit your natural environment. I love an interior style that leans mid-century modern and still integrates natural linens and rustic touches that mimic the surrounding landscape. A Napa home might incorporate oak accents, greenery and organic linens, while a beach home can infuse shades of blue and soft, neutral pillows.
In touch with nature
It’s often helpful to work with your interior designer, landscape designer and gardener to create a cohesive look. Even as the weather begins to cool down, we’re able to take advantage of opportunities to have morning tea, family dinners or a glass of wine outside.
Now is a great time to buy oversized pots and fill them with olive bushes, hydrangeas or a fiddle-leaf fig. Create a backyard retreat with a bubbling fountain and lush plants. If there’s something in bloom in your garden, cut off a few long sprigs or branches and place them in a large, clear vase in the living room or on the dining room table. Slip a eucalyptus bunch over the showerhead in your bathroom – the steam releases the essential oils within the plant for a soothing scent.
A few thoughtfully selected indoor plants throughout your home can add life and color, as well as bringing the outside in – with the added benefit of purifying the air in your home. Getting in touch with nature, both inside and outside the home, reduces mental fatigue and stress, increases relaxation and self-esteem, and has a calming effect.
I see this type of indoor-outdoor design trending everywhere I go – malls are adding plants and greenery both inside and out; global architecture firms like Gensler are making room for green spaces in the early design stages of large-scale office buildings; and restaurants and wineries now feature living plants, trees (inside!) and open walls that lead out onto leafy, candlelit patios.
Not only do these elements improve air quality inside spaces, but they also add natural beauty and an outdoor aesthetic to any design, lending themselves to experiences that are healthy, dreamy and magical.
Celeste Randolph is an interior designer in Los Altos. For more information, visit celesterandolphdesigns.com.