Catharina Björkman, lifestyle expert at Swedish wood burning stove brand, Contura, shares some top tips on how to bring the outdoors into your home to create an indoor oasis for you and your family.
Being outdoors can help us de-stress and feel more connected to the world, with fresh air and exercise cited as a much-needed antidote to the fast pace of modern life. As being immersed in nature brings only positives to our health and wellbeing, it makes sense to bring elements of the natural world into our homes too.
As a design element plants are incredibly versatile. Whether your home is minimal and clean, or eclectic and busy, plants do so much to soften and add texture. Think about them as you would a piece of art or an ornament, lifting and adding an extra dimension to the space.
If you’re a green-fingered beginner, start with a fern, cactus, or the tall and thin-leafed mother-in-law’s tongue. Fig trees and dwarf olive trees thrive in sunny spots, whereas for dark corners, the likes of the prayer plant, Baltic ivy (a hardy type of English ivy) and asparagus fern (with soft leaves) are the best choice.
Other easy to care for plant varieties include bamboo, spider plant, aloe vera, succulents, snake plant and peace lily. For areas with little natural daylight, you can also opt for faux plants. Of course, while you get the visual perks, you don’t get the air-purifying benefits.
Grouping plants together gives a greater impact on a space. Stick with the odd number rule and group plants in threes or fives. Mix up how you style plants too, using a combination of hanging plants, wicker, wooden and stone pots to add texture and interest.
For a minimal uniform look, pick the same variety of plant. But if you want to group together along a mantelpiece, go for a mix of different heights and styles of plants – mixing up leafy with spikes and hanging plants.
A ‘plant wall’ can effectively divide up the space to help create zoned areas, such as splitting the kitchen from the living room – this is particularly useful for studio or loft apartments. Keep in mind that a plant wall works best in uniform order, so use the same plant type with similar heights as this will also give the illusion of a more defined zone.
Similarly, ‘living walls’ use panels of plants grown vertically, either free-standing or attached to walls or trellises. This can provide a much-needed greenery boost into a home and create a clever dividing point. In rooms with poor or little natural light, faux foliage can still create an interesting look.
Bringing nature indoors doesn’t only apply to plants. Use materials normally found outdoors and make them a part of your home’s interior décor. Wood, wicker, rattan and stone all work well to bring an outdoor theme inside. A wooden, rustic style ladder can provide a great alternative to polished wood shelving, for example.
Add natural elements throughout the décor; seashells, jars of sand and bunches of branches can all make interesting focal points. Imitate nature by adding outdoor cues such as woody incense and fresh flowers for a floral smell. The same feeling of being relaxed and free in nature can be brought into your home by stimulating the senses.
Embrace a natural colour scheme for an understated, calming look. This can apply to the wall and floor colours, curtains and furniture. Use green to evoke the earth, grass and plants, blue for the sky and ocean, and yellow for the sun and flowers. Neutral tones such as white, cream and beige will all make your interiors feel more natural, clean and fresh. Avoid cold, man-made materials and embrace wood, cork and bamboo flooring. These feel warmer underfoot and are a more natural, organic choice.
About the expert
Scandinavian lifestyle expert, Catharina Bjorkman, is Style Director at Contura – Europe’s leading manufacturer of wood burning stoves, offering an extensive range of classic and contemporary wood burners; from traditional insert stoves suitable for existing fireplaces, to freestanding statement models made with innovative materials such as soapstone. For more information on Contura, please visit www.contura.eu