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How to Bring the Outdoors Indoors

Home decorating magazines and shows love to teach homeowners how to create “outdoor rooms.” But during rainy, cold, or wintry months, how can you bring more nature inside? Fortunately, there’s more than one way to get more nature into your home during winter. The components of bringing the outdoors indoors are relatively simple: Bringing nature indoors involves allowing more light into your home and bringing plant life inside. Bringing the outdoors indoors can be as simple as opening up curtains and blinds and investing in some hardy indoor trees, or as complex as funding a remodel.

Here’s a look at several methods for bring the outdoors inside.

  • Consider a remodel. Remodeling is expensive, but it’s also exciting. Discuss with a builder or architect your desire to bring more nature indoors, and chances are you can develop a design that brings with it new or bigger windows, French doors that lead to a yard or deck and allow ample light into a bedroom, or the creation of a sunroom. If you plan to enclose a porch, consider using windows that provide insulation in winter but that can open up during the summer months, and use light-colored flooring or tile so this area of the home remains bright. If you’re adding to a basement, consider doors with windows or a double-door plus patio arrangement that lets lots of light into the home.
  • Consider new windows. For rooms on the top floor, adding skylights to bedrooms or on stair landings can allow a lot more light into the home and create a relaxed, natural environment. Replacing older windows with new versions that have different patterns or structures can also help bring more light into your home. In the kitchen, a “window box” with shelves for growing herbs or storing kitchen items can provide both storage and an elegant way to feel connected to the outdoors.
  • Go to the nursery. Adding plant life to different rooms of the home is an excellent way to bring the outdoors in. Ask a plant seller about which plant varieties thrive in winter light or in your particular climate, and consider making it a policy to buy fresh flowers periodically for a decorative vase placed prominently within your home. If you live in a condominium or property without a yard, learn to maintain an outdoor “container garden” in window boxes or on a patio or deck. Indoor waterfalls (tabletop or larger) or water-related art can bring a natural element indoors. 
  • Consider new paint colors or art. If your home lacks light or a sense of space, consider rearranging furniture and also repainting with a different color scheme—one that uses clear sky blues or the colors of the sea, or that borrows from earth tones reminiscent of autumn. Consider hanging art that features plant or natural life.
  • Continue to use your existing “outdoor room.” That’s right, spend time outdoors in winter. In many milder climates, such as the Southwest and parts of California and the Pacific Northwest, falls and winters are cold but not bracingly so. An outdoor heat lamp and a fire pit can lend a lot of temporary heat to an otherwise cool area. Outdoor fireplaces can also allow for year-round heat and allow for an outdoor entertaining space, even in winter. Offer guests a few wool blankets, comfy Adirondack chairs, and warm hot chocolate, and you can savor the outdoors in a brand new way—even in winter.