Making a feature out of potted plants is an obvious way of bringing nature into the house but it's certainly not the only one. If you are renovating or building, using wood, stone, marble, bamboo, recycled bricks, cork or clay in the building's structure is sensible. Not only are natural materials timeless, when looked after they are also usually more durable. And they make a building feel "grounded".
Not everyone, of course, is in the position of starting afresh with basalt tiles, granite benchtops and walnut kitchen cabinets, which is where "natural" home accessories — those made out of natural fibres or mimicking organic shapes — come in. The trick is walking that fine line between making a home look warm and inviting and overdoing it to the point where it resembles a garden centre or decor shop. As elemental as it sounds, things that look contrived don't look natural. Here's how to bring nature in while keeping it real.
Do: Consider interior trees. Larger-than-life houseplants don't just bring the garden inside, they bring the forest. Fiddleleaf figs, New Zealand laurel or karaka (not suitable in homes with animals and children because of its toxic fruit), fishtail palms, money trees, olive trees and rubber plants are all impressive inside and in the right conditions will grow quite large. The key is to treat them as standalones, and not mix them with too many other house plants. (When big, they are also a great alternative to a traditional Christmas tree.)
Don't: Overdo the potted plants. A few houseplants dotted throughout the house are fine but too many will look old-fashioned, and you will be forever forgetting to water them. Instead, mass them in one or two spots, not only for aesthetics but for convenience. It's almost the same with flowers. Consider one large display only — in an entrance hall, for example, to create an impact as soon as you walk in the door — as lots of vases scattered through the house can look messy, especially in contemporary interiors.
Do: Accessorise with natural materials. But be mindful. Jute, rattan, coconut, shell, twigs, oversized baskets, animal skins, rustic ceramics and driftwood are the staples of modern natural homewares. But the look — let's loosely call it Scandi — is everywhere. It's easy to forget that other fibres — those found in more traditionally decorated homes such as silk, velvet, linen, leather, wool, cotton — also provide a natural, but more subtle, touch.
Don't: Forget wallpaper. Cork, bamboo and grass papers might be obvious — and earthy — choices but what's wrong with a botanic print? A pretty floral or leaf wallpaper can elevate a room — and your mood — in much the same way as a walk in the park.
Do: Consider decorating in the colours of nature, which doesn't mean sticking to safe, neutral shades like taupe, cream, grey and brown. Instead, find a paint colour the same shade as a stormy sky, a raging sea or a sunny day.