10 Design Lessons You Can Learn From Nature
Take a moment from your busy schedule to lift up your eyes from that handheld device and reunite with the natural beauty of the world around you.
What do you see? Are the tree branches swaying in the breeze? Are leaves rustling at your feet, showing the first signs of fall? Is the yellow orb of the sun still hot on your shoulders? Do you see a a sun setting over a towering city skyline or snow-peaked mountains?
If you just take a moment to observe the natural world, then you will discover that it is chock-full of design lessons that can be incorporated into your own personal dwelling. Whatever your natural surroundings happen to be, you can gleam a little decor inspiration from its beauty.
Let’s take a moment to dwell in nature and see what it can teach us about interior design.
1. Natural Forms of Beauty
Nature is beautiful and awe-inspiring. The natural world has inspired world-renowned artists such as Van Gogh and Picasso. So, how do we learn to regard nature with an artist’s eye? And how do we then bring the beauty of nature into our homes?
It really is as simple as taking a serene moment to sit and observe the natural beauty of the world around us—quite literally take a moment to smell the roses. Regard the delicious color of a rose and notice how its color fades into ombre shades outward towards its delicate floral tips. Alone, this color shading could inspire an entire room, and an entire design lesson.
Or look to barren twigs whose bumps, bends and brown coloring could be reflected within a masculine den via textiles and furnishings. The beauty of the natural world is all around us, just waiting to inspire your home decor—you just need to stop for a moment, taking it all in and then replicating it within your home.
2. Copy Color Hues of Nature
As mentioned above, the ombre shades of a single rose can inspire a color theme for your entire home. Let’s delve into this a bit deeper. Where else can we look within our natural surroundings for color cues?
Did you ever notice that nature isn’t scared to mix colors, even colors opposite on the color wheel? Take a look at a veiny leaf—the leaf itself can be a bright emerald green while the vein that runs along its middle can be a deep magenta red or a bold white.
Nature also seems fond of playing with color shades. Look to any tree or bush. Notice how the older leaves are deeper in color than the new leaves that shoot from the tips of the branches—it is literally nature’s version of a paint chip, showing us all the hues of color choices. Take a look outside your window. What color shades do you wish to use in order to bring nature indoors?
3. Bring Nature Indoors
Let’s go beyond color for a moment. How about we take a walk through the natural world and see what we can collect? When was the last time you went on a hike and brought home some lovely leaves, stones, twigs or acorns?
There are so many ways that you can decorate your home interior with natural elements. Consider filling vases with tumbled stones and then anchoring long, twisty twigs amongst the stones, creating a lovely table centerpiece.
Colorful leaves scattered along the center of a table, mixed with acorns, pinecones and flickering candles, would also make a wonderful fall table setting. If you prefer a simpler approach, you could simply cut a few large palm fronds and place them in a beautiful glass vase, as featured in the image below.
4. Nature Follows a Random Design
The wind catches a seed, taking it away from its planned home, depositing it into a new foreign environment. The seed may flourish in this new soil environment or it may wilt and die. This part of nature is random and unplanned. No one knows where each seed will fall and if it will grow.
What can we learn from this? It’s simple: be random, it’s OK—It may work and it may not, but you won’t know unless you try. Buy that decor piece that is calling to you even though you have no idea where you would put it. Hang a modern light fixture over your country kitchen table even though the two styles are opposing.
It’s your home, so be random and follow your heart. You never know where the wind of inspiration will take you and your interior design.
5. Some Designs in Nature Are Well-Planned and Purposeful
Like clockwork, the pull of the moon cues the tide to ebb and flow. The rising of the sun awakens the birds, and the glow of the moon calls to wake the world’s nocturnal creatures. All of this is purposeful and planned—just as some of our home designs should be.
While randomness has its place in interior design, some things must be planned and well though out. Our kitchens, for example, require careful placement and planning. Kohler offers a lot of helpful tips and strategies when it comes to kitchen design, noting that it is imperative to design your kitchen with specific work triangles.
So, mimic nature’s purposefulness and plan your interiors thoroughly. Ultimately, a functional home is the root of all design, and an un-functional one causes stress and interior chaos.
6. Mimic Nature’s Cycle
Fall. Winter. Spring. Summer. While the entire world doesn’t have the pleasure of enjoying these four cycles of nature, they are still worthy of mimicry.
One should always lighten-up their home interior during the spring and summer months. Roll up the cozy area rugs and pull down those heavy draperies—copying nature’s spring renewal by airing out and cleaning your home. Then during the cold fall and winter months, consider warming up your decor with plush blankets, rugs and warm accents.
Nature’s cycle also means some things need to die and be laid to rest; look around your home for those worn-out old items that really need to be donated or tossed away.
7. Even the Small Things Matter
The tiniest spec of soil has a role and purpose in the natural world—just as everything in our home should have a role and purpose. Whether we add a mirror near our entryway so that we can adjust ourselves as we hurriedly head out the door, or we place a pot of flowers in the center of our table for the sheer beauty of it—everything has a role.
Assess your home, itemize your belongings— is everything fulfilling its purpose/role? Should a chair be moved in order to allow for better conversational seating? Should a light fixture be updated in order to match the rest of your modern decor? Do you need to add an area rug to your sitting room in order to define the space better?
Be sure that every decor item in your home is fulfilling its role, and if it isn’t then maybe it’s time for it to go.
8. Always Grow and Change
A plethora of valuable life lessons can be garnered from nature. The Huffington Post offers three life lessons that nature teaches, but there are so many interior design lessons that we can learn, too.
Nature is never constant–everything is growing and changing. A tree may die, but is replaced by a young sapling; one flower withers and in its place grows a young bright blossom. Our home needs to follow this same pattern of growth and change. Is your sofa withering and old? If so, consider renewing your decor with a new sofa.
When was the last time you moved some furniture around to play with its placement within the room? Try moving a bulky armoire to a different corner, or put a new coat of paint on your front door. Change is good and can open our eyes to a whole new interior design.
9. Work Around Obstacles
Just as a tree root grows around boulders to get to a water source, we need to work around our homes obstacles. As this Nola article so fittingly states, a great designer is one who makes a house full of obstacles look like it fell from the pictures of a magazine.
Every home has an obstacle or two, and we need to be inventive in order to contrive ways to work around them or hide them. Is there a huge wall in your home that you can’t knock down due to its load-bearing design?
Try to turn that vast wall into a work of art that displays all your family portraits, or disguise the dreariness of it by adding a huge mirror that reflects natural light and opens up the room. Just as the natural world does, we need to work around our homes obstacles.
10. Mimic Nature’s Biodiversity
Nature is teeming with diversity—colors, shapes and textures are vast and varying. We need to copy this diversity into our home in order for it to feel like a well-designed space.
By layering your home in color and texture you create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Consider mixing patterns and textures such as floral and damask, or linen and velvet. Layer your room with pillows, blankets, area rugs, lighting and decorative knick knacks.
Nature would be boring if it was all brown and dreary, so why should our home be that way? Liven up your home with colors, patterns and textures, making your home look like a bright, colorful summer day.
Nature is truly a life-force— and now we know that it can be a design-force, as well. Literally, step outside to take-in the view of the world that surrounds you. What colors do you see? What patterns and textures do you see?
Take note and bring these wonderful features of nature inside the doors of your home. You will be so happy that you did once you realize how nature has renewed the life of your interiors.
What part of nature do you admire most—the trees, the flowers, the birds? How would you use this as inspiration in your own home?