Bringing Outdoors In

We may not have had quite the traditional winter (where was the snow?) here on Long Island, but spring is in full effect and it’s time to enjoy all that the outdoors has to offer. That means long walks, picnics in the park and bringing a touch of nature into our homes.

Nature is such a huge source of inspiration for everything from fashion and jewelry to home textiles and furniture. And why not? The gorgeous colors, shapes and patterns boost our energy and makes us feel happy. And since we could all use a little extra “happy,” it’s time to bring some of it into our homes.

Brooklyn-based designer John Loecke of Madcap Cottage is a huge fan of mixing and matching bold colors and prints. The designer, along with partner Jason Oliver Nixon, recently infused their Brooklyn dining room with a kaleidoscope of color, pattern and florals, welcoming touches of nature into their home.

“We love spending time at our country home in upstate New York and wanted to bring some of that to Brooklyn,” explains Loecke. “Our solution was to bring the outdoors in by lining our walls in fabulous floral wallpaper. Then, for a full-grown garden look, we mixed several floral patterns in the space, adding wallpaper to the ceiling and choice botanical prints for the window dressings and some of our chairs.”

The result is an explosion of eye candy that makes you feel like you’re dining in a beautiful English country garden. Of course, if you do plan to mix graphic patterns, Loecke says it’s important to ground your floral fantasy with lots of green, as he did.
“There has to be an anchor,” he says. “It helps tell the story.”

Another way to welcome spring at home is to turn to pastels. Think about the delicate flowers that are blooming in your garden, such as pink peonies, lilac-colored mums and soft blue hydrangeas. Take a photo for inspiration and start your search for fabrics and accessories in similar shades.

Pastels are often associated with delicate materials, but you might be pleasantly surprised to find the colors in more durable fabrics. Performance fabric companies such as Chella Textiles have infused their latest lines with these yummy shades, so whether you choose to create cushions for your breakfast banquette or cover your family room sofa, you can enjoy a softer palette without worrying about stains.

Jan Clausen, founder and principal of CCID, or Clausen-Chewning Interior Design, specializes in design for luxury hotel and resort interiors, and she has turned to high performance textiles and accessories for many projects. Clausen is a big proponent of not only letting the outdoors in, but also marrying outdoor and indoor living.

“More and more furniture manufacturers are coming up with innovative sofas, lounge chairs, dining sets and lighting that are suitable for exterior use, but have the comfort of interior furniture, so the same pieces can be brought inside,” she says.

By choosing such products, you are welcoming a more carefree vibe into your home, one that’s often associated with lounging in the yard or by the pool. Another way to achieve this is to bring in exterior walls of brick, painted wood or stone. “This is especially effective if used in conjunction with large windows, or a folding glass wall system that opens the visual and physical space between interior and exterior spaces,” Clausen explains.

Finally, there really is no better way to welcome nature into your home than adding fresh flowers. Whether you pop into the grocery store for an inexpensive bouquet or create an over-the-top arrangement with clippings from your garden, fresh flowers enliven a home and remind us how good it feels to be surrounded by the outdoors.

photo courtesy of Madcap Cottage

lauren debellis

A former magazine editor, Lauren DeBellis has been writing and producing stories about home decorating and design for nearly ten years. She resides in East Northport with her husband.