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Bringing the outside in. Connecting with nature in the home

Interior design partner, J&D Design draws inspiration from the Chihuly: Reflections on nature exhibition at Kew Gardens.



The special appeal and beauty of nature is that it relaxes and refreshes like few other things can. It is therefore unsurprising that a growing movement is evolving among home owners to incorporate nature into the design and décor of the home so that it can be enjoyed all year-round.

Besides being beautiful and interesting, health experts say incorporating natural environments into the home can improve happiness and well-being. No matter where we live, the list of innovative and attainable ways to invite the outdoors in, is expansive: From living walls and natural materials to hammock beds, feature windows and structural glass walls.

Refresh and restore

In addition to its aesthetic qualities, researchers have revealed that exposure to nature can benefit our mental health, including decreasing stress and relieving anxiety and depression.

Natural environments have restorative properties that are especially beneficial in today’s information-overloaded world. When we engage with nature, whether by walking in it, tending to it, or simply gazing at it, our biological system gets to rest and restore itself.

An extension of nature

Some innovative architectural approaches include building designs around existing natural elements such as trees and streams.

Other more practical approaches can include incorporating a full wall of folding glass doors, or simply replacing an existing door or window with a larger one. This is an effective way to invite the outdoors in, not only because it floods the inside space with natural light, but it also provides a seamless transition between the two spaces.


Images: Living herb wall,  hanging nest chair.

Living walls

Walls can also provide a framework to grow real indoor greenery in the form of living walls, also known as garden walls and vertical gardens.

Residential garden wall systems can be extremely low maintenance and highly sculptural, from an undulating wall of moss to a wave of varying air-grown succulents or a picture-framed grid of herbs.

There are several options available, with varying levels of design and price. These features are also a great way to combine form and function by using them to grow herbs for the kitchen (easy-to-grow herb plants include basil, parsley, rosemary and mint).

For beginners, a grid system is very forgiving. Test out a small area before expanding to a whole wall and just keep adding on as you become comfortable with the maintenance.

Natural materials

Incorporating natural building materials into the home can also add to an outdoor feel. Stone fireplace mantles and walls provide rustic appeal, as do wooden beams and furnishing accents. Other recommendations include choosing natural flooring over man-made. Think hardwood, bamboo, and cork. Natural flooring is warm and inviting, bringing organic elements from the outdoors to the interior of the home.

Inspiration: Botanical Green
Clockwise from left: Jangala botanical wool rug, Made.com £299.00; Fan palm leaf mini mug, Jemma Wightman Ceramics £17.00; Pols Potten Brass Prickle Decorative Ornament, John Lewis from £29.00; Spherical leaf glass vase, Amara, £39.00; Walnut Eames House Bird, Selfridges £250.00; Antique White Leaves Chandelier, Cox and Cox, £580.00; Thibaut Songyue Green wallpaper, Fashion Wallpaper, £57.00 per roll; West Elm Mid-Century Asymmetrical Wall Mirror, Acorn, sold at John Lewis £349.00.

Elemental décor

For the ultimate outdoors feel, try incorporating some “outdoor” furniture, such as a hanging swing seat or day bed. Extra points if they’re made of natural fibres such as rattan or wicker.

To bring in a quick, affordable infusion of the outdoors, an easy option is to add colours and elements that are found in nature to the home décor scheme. Jars of rocks, shells and sand can also add natural appeal and texture, while paint colours inspired by nature refresh and restore.

Blue tones evoke the colours of water and the sky. Shades of green bring the essence of plants and grasses into the home. Neutrals, tans, and beiges express earthiness.

The outdoors provides an organic appeal for people, so it’s no surprise that we want to connect with nature and bring that beauty inside.

Inspiration: Botanical Blue
Clockwise from left: Ankinara throw, Oka £145.00; Small velvet cushion, Oka £61.00; Magnolia Soulangiana print, King & McGaw £120; Metal leaf lamp, H&M, £39.99; Hydrangea double duvet cover, Zara £59.99; Gold twig mirror, Graham and Green £275.00; Deco Charm Teal Glass Platter, Dunelm £20.00.


J&D Design specialises in the application of colour and design, and provides clients with personalised design services, including interior design, commissioning artworks, lighting schemes and garden landscaping.

In addition to their range of personalised design services, J&D Design offers a remote E-Design service and gift vouchers, with exclusive discounts for Marsh & Parsons’ clients. Find out more here.

Marsh & Parsons is registered in England (Company No. 05377981) Registered office address: 80 Hammersmith Road, London, W14 8UD (VAT No. GB 842 7959 83) | Copyright © Marsh & Parsons 2018

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