When we consider the concept of bringing the outside in, we have been conditioned by the media to assume that this now means grand conservatories, skylights, vast expanses of sliding doors and huge renovation projects, all of which cost a fortune. Whilst these aspirations are fantastic if you can afford them, the benefit of bringing the outdoors into your home or work place can also be gained in a much less dramatic fashion and without making such a dent on your wallet.
With the great British summertime being a total washout so far, there has never been a better time to try to replicate the feeling of well being that being outside can create. We all know the feeling that those long summer evenings spent outdoors can generate and if only for a few months of the year, many of us look forward to them and feel a surprising burst of energy and motivation in comparison to the winter evenings. It’s like as human beings we almost come alive; just as a flower reacts to the sunshine, so do we.
We mustn’t forget however that we can also experience a sense of well being during the winter months, when snuggled up safe and warm in front of a fire for example. Human beings have an internal desire for nature, a calmness that makes us feel at one with the earth, especially in the hustle and bustle of the man-made world in which we live.
Bringing the outdoors in is not therefore just about designing a space inspired by the outdoors. Likewise, recreating this fulfilled emotion is not as simple as being surrounded by flowers and plants. Although these can help somewhat, to get it all, you actually need to engage as many of the senses as possible.
A sense that is often overlooked when considering interiors design, but sound plays a vital part in our overall presence. Much like a strategically chosen piece of music, the sounds in your room can create an atmosphere that will affect your mood and the way you feel. The crackle of an open fire, the trickle of a water feature or even opening a window can bring the sounds of nature in. Interior design is personal and so where the sound of the outdoors for one person may be the rush of a river running close by, the sound of rain or the chirp of birds nesting in a tree, this can be someone else’s description of annoying and their preferred sound of the outdoors is the rustle of the nearby traffic or urban hums. It really does not matter, creating an atmosphere that is reflective of your personality it what counts.
Much like hearing, our sense of smell can determine our mood and scents can generate an atmospheric perception. Again this is extremely personal; what may smell pleasant to one person may have a completely different effect on another and so experiment with fragrances that work for you. Whether it is through brought fragrances or more natural forms, always try to emulate a smell that reminds you of being outside.
For more organic smells and a true sense of nature, use flowers or cooking ingredients to create gentle scents e.g. roses or cinnamon sticks, a smell that expresses the mood you are trying to evoke.
Probably the least obvious sense of all to consider when designing your décor, but not one to be forgotten all together. Many of us associate tastes with the great outdoors and where it may be difficult to emulate the emotions provoked by a BBQ in your rooms, adding fresh, natural, organic foods to your interior can in fact stimulate your taste buds. Think about an exotic bowl for fruit for example, not only are the vibrant colours and smells stimulating to the senses, but the act or even thought of eating them can bring back feelings from holidays abroad, beaches and various other outdoor spaces.
Link this thought process with the sense of smell, be creative and you’ll be surprised how even with these less apparent senses, you can indeed bring the outdoors into your decor without spending a fortune.
The largest contributor to interior design from all the senses has to be that of sight, although it is foolish to think it can be used in isolation. To stimulate our sight with inspiration taken from the outdoors there is so much we can do. Using natural materials such as wood and wool automatically gives the sense of outdoor living and when coupled with natural colour pallets, patterns and artwork all inspired by the world around us, we start to bring the outside in.
As well as the decoration of our décor, we can in fact also bring nature in. Using natural ornaments such as sea-shells, pretty rocks and stones, plants and flowers. In addition, maximizing the amount of natural light into a space, utilizing windows and maximizing the amount of light coming through them is an extremely effect way of bring nature in and can be really affordable.
As well as concentrating on the fabrics you dress your window with; a strategically placed mirror can assist you with this ploy. The natural light does not have to come directly into your room, look at the walls and observe how the light and shadows fall around your room throughout the course of a day and choose a space and a large mirror that can really take advantage of this. As well as reflecting the light, think about the image your mirror is reflecting, this is artwork in your room. Does it reflect the outdoors? A natural colour pallet? Again bring the outside into your home, and what is great about mirrors is that there are so many designs out there that you are sure to find one to suit your tastes and décor. Bring the outdoors in does not mean you have to adopt a modern or contemporary style.
Think also about the lighting in your room, are you trying to create a light and airy feel or a warm and cosy surrounding? Even without windows, with creative lighting you can still adopt a feeling of outside within a space, even if you can’t see it. Think about the position of your lights, lamps, up-lighters, candles and the colours they emit, do they emulate the feelings you wish to provoke?
When considering the décor of your space, as well as the colours and patterns of the items you include, think also about the textures within the space. Adding texture can create depth, almost like a perspective on the horizon, and injects personality into your room. When combined with natural materials, the way things feel can really remind us of the outdoors, whether it be a rough surface or a luxuriously soft blanket, touch is a vital sense that can sometimes be taken for granted within a design platform.
As well as the physical objects that we can pick up and touch and feel, don’t discount those you can’t see. Opening a window for example is a cost free way of bringing the outside in. Feeling a gentle breeze or the freshness of a snowy gust, breathing in the fresh air or even feeling the warmth from a fire are all elements that stimulate our touch sense and contribute to this concept of 360 degree well being generated by the outdoors. It is a natural instinct to want to feel these things and we sometimes do it without even thinking; you must recall a moment when you’ve opened all the windows in a space to create an airflow, whether it is to cool an area down, relieve a stuffy space or just to feel fresh and clean.
It is becoming increasingly popular to invest a lot of time and money into developing our outside spaces such as our gardens, balconies, terraces and so forth and whilst developing an indoor space that emulates this cannot compete with the real thing, it can create a sense of well being, an escape and calm from real life.
This article has shown that to accomplish a sense of well being within your home or work place, as inspired by the outdoors, you do not have to spend a fortune. Simply design your room taking into consideration the atmosphere you are trying to create by considering all 5 senses; sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste and combine them with our natural elements of earth, fire, water and air, and you can bring the outside in, for less.