It’s time to hunker down for the cold weather, but don’t give up the great outdoors entirely. There are ways to incorporate that outdoorsy mood inside to keep a house feeling like a home and not a hibernation cave.
The simplest way is to take color cues from exterior surroundings. If the home is located in a wooded area, use earth tones associated with autumn or spring. A beach house would benefit from implementing shades in line with the ocean and sky. “If you have a window with a view that you want to frame with fabric panels, you can select colors that are part of the view,” said Melville-based designer Karen Lyons of Comfort by Design of New York. But for rooms that lack windows, there are other methods of echoing exterior environments.
Natural materials call to mind the outdoor aesthetic. According to Lyons, wood, bamboo and stone flooring provide excellent starting points. Build on these surfaces with rugs made of hemp, jute and other rustic materials; they provide the type of texture found in organic settings. Furniture made of distressed wood, as well as rattan and wicker, has a similar effect. Consider one-of-a-kind pieces like a mantel fashioned from driftwood or a custom tabletop made from rough-hewn marble to add natural elegance. Lyons added, “Use fabrics with a lot of texture, such as grass cloth wall coverings.”
On a smaller scale, apply bits of nature as accessories. Pieces of wood, stones and seashells can be used to reinforce the connection. “Even something like dried flowers from the garden add a strong connection to the outdoors,” said Lyons. Keep in mind the influence of artwork. Landscape paintings, botanical prints and photographs of the surrounding area can offer an immediate connection to cherished exterior environments.
Plants also help warm a room and provide spots of color. Moving plants inside when the weather turns cold is a way to prolong their life while giving the room a natural feel. “Not every plant is a candidate for the outdoor to indoor transition. There is no point in trying to bring true annuals like marigolds and zinnias inside,” said Dennis Schrader of Landcraft Environments, a wholesale nursery in Mattituck. Schrader instead recommended begonias, Abutilon (flowering maple), coleus, variegated potato vine and even tropical hibiscus. “Some plants like jasmine and gardenia will also provide fragrance,” he added. Even herbs can be potted on windowsills, especially perennials like rosemary. However, if transplanting seems too daunting, some varieties, like coleus, grow quickly from clippings.
It is also important to make sure that the plants receive the right amount of light they need to thrive. “If you are bringing potted plants indoors, be sure to check for pests first. And if the plant does not make the transition, don’t be afraid to toss it out and start over in the spring,” Schrader advised. If pets are a concern, be careful about which plants you bring inside. Many, including cut leaf philodendron, asparagus ferns and aloe can be toxic to animals.