I’ll never forget a particular weekend the summer of my 21st birthday.
It was a hot one, at least for the Pacific Northwest. Consequently, a friend and co-worker suggested a weekend hike and camping trip up into the Cascade mountains to a high country lake.
I wasn’t a hiker or camper but that sounded like fun and promised relief from the high temperatures in the city.
My friend assured me she would bring everything needed so I didn’t have to worry about a thing (famous last words)!
We met at the trail head early on a Saturday morning. As I looked around, I asked where the trail was. She replied, “It’s right over there” and pointed a finger.
I looked again and saw nothing except a forest of trees, large rocks, and dense brush.
I repeated my question and she said the trail began where a small red ribbon was attached to a bush.
That should have been my first clue that this wasn’t going to be a pleasant walk through a cool, shaded forest ending at a picture-perfect pristine mountain lake.
I was then given a 40 lb. pack to carry and the climb began.
Did it get easier? No it did not. It was only the beginning.
My friend had brought along her boyfriend and I discovered they were very experienced hikers and campers. This was an easy jaunt for them. She hadn’t shared that info with me and I, stupidly had asked no questions before hand.
About half-way into this six mile, straight up climb into hell, the boyfriend had to add my pack to his. I simply didn’t have the conditioning to physically carry it. I was terribly embarrassed that I couldn’t carry my share.
As it was, darkness had fallen and that last mile was literally hand over fist until we reached the lake.
The night was spent trying to sleep on a piece of plastic. Dawn finally arrived and with it, a mass of mosquitoes and horse flies.
Going down the mountain wasn’t a cake walk either. I tripped and fell twice, badly skinning my knees and we ran into a bad thunderstorm.
By the time we reached our cars, I was soaking wet with bleeding knees and blistered feet. Furthermore, I could barely walk for the next several days.
I made a vow then that I would never do an overnight camping trip again and I haven’t.
However, and this brings me to this week’s article—there’s camping and then there’s ” glamping” which means “glamorous camping.” I think I could enjoy this. It would be a very different experience than what I experienced that long ago summer.
If you also don’t enjoy the typical rigors of hiking and camping, this may appeal to you as well. Take a look at these photos from FRESHOME and see what you think.
“HERE ARE SIX REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD GO GLAMPING FOR YOUR NEXT VACATION”

It’s comfortable

When you glamp, you’re “roughing it” without the “rough” part.

Forget the tent which you have to contort your body to crawl into, and instead, step into a tall canvas tent with room to spread out. Camping itself is wonderful, but sleeping on the ground, zipping in and out of tents, and less-than-ideal bathrooms can be a bit draining on most people after a while, and a complete no-go for some. Glamping means real beds that you can get some of your best sleep in — especially in the fresh air of the outdoors. They’re vastly more spacious than tents, giving you and your travel companions room to spread out both horizontally and vertically. You’ll be treated with hotel-like hospitality and the creature comforts that help you to relax and feel at home on vacation.

And there are electrical outlets, which is a big plus, right?

The locations

Glamping brings you to places that hotels and resorts can’t. You could be waking up just steps from a beach on a private island, or deep in a mountain range overlooking a serene alpine lake. As soon as you walk out of your “room”, you’re immersed in nature. It really doesn’t get much better than that.

The cost

Living luxuriously in a tent, yurt, teepee, or cabin doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, most glamping is considerably less expensive than staying in a hotel. Look around at glamping near you or where you’d like to travel, and you might be surprised by what you find.

And you can rest easy knowing that your money is well spent. Much like AirBnB or VRBO, supporting glamping means supporting individuals and their small businesses. You eliminate the overhead of a large resort property and directly support the local community and economy.

You don’t have to be an expert

Camping isn’t as straightforward as going out into the woods with a tent and sleeping bag — which is assuming you even have those two essentials. So while camping itself is low cost, the gear needed to rough it for a few days can add up quickly.

When you glamp, there’s no additional equipment required. You won’t have to worry about bringing a cookstove or remembering the rain fly. Scout skills are not necessary here.

Sure, there are some camping purists out there who want to trek for miles and go completely off the grid for a few days. But if that’s not for you, glamping is your best bet for a memorable camping experience. Simply show up, sit back, and enjoy the simplicity of being outdoors.

It’s eco-friendly

Not only does glamping immerse you in nature, it also helps you protect it. Once you go glamping, you’ll have a heightened appreciation for nature and protecting it — while doing so. Glamping itself is a low impact green activity.

Most vacationing includes brand new, large resort complexes that are expensive to build and operate. Glamping can happen anywhere from tents to retro airstreams, but nearly all of the options are examples of low construction, upcycled or reused living arrangements.

What’s more, they don’t require the heating and electricity costs of modern construction. And for the resources glamping does require, many setups run on solar or wind power.

As ecotourism rises in demand, glamping stands a great chance to skyrocket in popularity.

It’s cultural

There’s no better way to experience a culture than to immerse yourself in it. Whether you’re learning to surf with the locals on the Baja coast or practicing your lassoing skills on a ranch in Big Sky, there’s so much to do, see, and learn while glamping.

And glamping doesn’t just mean in tents! From yurts to wagons, teepees, airstreams and treehouses, the variety of ways to glamp allow for different cultural experiences that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

Are you thinking about going glamping? Have you already gone? I’d love to hear about your experiences and see your pictures! Send me a few words in the comments, or on social media.

Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
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While visiting a friend’s home a few days ago, she showed me her back yard and I was taken aback.
While she might not have fully realized, she created an outdoor space that appealed to all of her senses which, in turn, increased her sense of well-being.
She created an outdoor space where nature ruled, allowing both humans and nature to relate and work together harmoniously.
We can’t live very well without creating a positive relationship with nature. Studies show that being surrounded by and integrating with nature can:
  • Reduce stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase well-being
  • Enhance problem-solving skills
  • Reduce fear and anger
It’s good, maybe imperative, to create outdoor spaces that speak to our soul. That allow us to be in harmony with our surroundings and with ourselves.
Your special “secret garden” needn’t be large or elaborate. Just a secluded nook that is peaceful and harmonious. A quiet space to quiet the mind.
Take a look at these photos. You’ll feel calmer just by looking at them. You’ll smell the trees and flowers; feel the grass beneath bare feet while enjoying a beverage; feel the warm air caressing your skin; hear a soft breeze ruffle the tree leaves; daydream and let fears drift away. You’ll enjoy just being.
Like my friend, your “secret garden” will engage all of your senses and feel glad to just be alive.
Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other away around
Photos via HOUZZ
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There is something so wonderful about the fall season, that it seems natural to bring some of nature’s bounty indoors
Perhaps it’s the brilliant colors, or the many shapes, patterns, and texture
No matter why, they inspire and comfort us. We want to be surrounded with the beauty that only nature can provide.
So pour your favorite beverage, snuggle up with a throw, and look at these photos for some easy decorating ideas that you can do to celebrate this glorious season.
FIRELOGS
If you have a non-working fireplace, fill the space with firelogs. The texture they provide is beautiful and a wonderful way to fill an otherwise black hole. Just make sure if you bring them in from outdoors, they’re bug-free!
Traditional Living Room by Design Manifest
BOOKCASES ARE NOT JUST FOR BOOKS
Same idea as the first photo, but this time use a few shelves to fill with logs. The rustic charm they provide is delightful and unusual.
BRING IN FALL FOLIAGE
What a lovely way to greet yourself and your guests. Use a large container in an entryway filled with brilliant branches of fall leaves. Just make sure there’s enough weight in the bottom of your container so it doesn’t topple over.
DECORATE YOUR DINING ROOM CHANDELIER
Bring in branches from outdoors to nestle into your light fixture. I would not use the actual berries as they can fall into your food and I’m quite sure they’re not part of your menu! Instead, purchase faux berries from a craft store and attach them to the wood branches.
ADORN YOUR TABLE NAPKINS
You can choose anything that is small such as herbs or wildflowers. Attach the bundles to the napkins using twine. It’s a lovely way to greet guests to the table and it’s fresh—especially if they’re naturally scented.

PINECONES

Whether they’re from your yard or purchased, pinecones are a wonderful gift of nature to decorate with. Simply fill completely any container of your choice. If they don’t have their natural scent, don’t add an artificial pine smell. I’ve never found one that smells like the real thing. Simply enjoy their shape and texture.
USE YOUR CAMERA
You don’t even need an actual camera. The one that’s built into your smart phone takes beautiful photos. So while you’re on your nature walks, snap photos that appeal to you and have them framed. In this case, you are the artist with a little help from nature! And you’ll smile each time you look at them.
Photos via HOUZZ
Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
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I’m working with a client who has chosen to freshen her home and part of this “refreshment” includes fabric.
She has two guest bedrooms and each has a window seat overlooking beautiful trees that were screaming for comphy  cushions.
Partly because she has active grandchildren, we chose indoor-outdoor fabric for the cushions.
We call it indoor-outdoor fabric because it’s come a long way from the heavy canvass always associated with outdoor material.
You’ll find examples that have the feel and texture of regular indoor fabrics. Two of my favorite sources are SUNBRELLA and DURALEE.
While indoor-outdoor fabric is extremely durable and fade-resistant, it’s not indestructible. However, it’s much easier to keep clean than many other fabrics. SUNBRELLA has a website, www.sunbrella.com/stainchart that gives instructions for removing a wide variety of stains.
The cost of this fabric from Sunbrella and Duralee runs from $25 to $130 a yard. With minimal care, you can enjoy indoor-outdoor fabric for many years to come.
Take a look at this photos from HOUZZ. They’ll show you examples of how beautifully they can be incorporated into your interior decor. You’ll see why bringing  outdoor material indoors is a good thing!
Indoor-outdoor fabric has come a long way from the heavy solids and limited stripes of yesterday’s outdoor fabric choices.
Wovens
Prints
Sheers
The perfect fabric for stools and chairs

Don’t forget Fido’s bed

Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
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Summer is that time of year when much of your entertaining is out-of-doors.
It’s also that time of year when many celebrations take place.
Weddings, wedding receptions, bridal showers, birthday parties, holidays, and special get-togethers with family and friends.
This week’s design ideas are some product examples that add fun, elegance, in some a little whimsy, and all around make your celebrations even more special. And don’t you just love it when guests  remark how beautiful everything looks and wonder how you did it all?
Most of these products can be ordered directly from Houzz or, if not, the source is listed on the photo. You may see an item or two that is just what you’re looking for when planning your parties this summer.
Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
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After experiencing two sunny days in a row with temperatures hovering around 70 degrees, I know summer is just around the corner.

For those of us who live in the Northwest, as with all who live in northern climates, it can’t arrive too soon.

And like a bear coming out of hibernation, the lure of being out-of-doors is simply too strong to ignore.

We feel re-born.

We want to be outside and enjoy our private outdoor spaces. Free to relax, dream a little, enjoy friends and family, read that summer romance novel. And we absolutely love to eat out meals under umbrellas, clear blue skies, and evening sunsets.

Take a look at these photos of different styles and materials of outdoor furniture. These examples come from a Belgian outdoor furniture company MANUTTI.

They are beautiful, comfortable, and practical. After all, it does rain and storm even during the summer.

Mindfully designed, your private outdoor spaces can truly make you feel like you’re on vacation without even leaving your property!

We're kicking off our search with wicker furniture. Resin wicker is weather resistant so can be left out for years in the sun, snow and wind thanks to its synthetic polyethylene make-up, unlike regular wicker that would only last about a year out in the elements before it started to break down and lose its beauty. All weather wicker is widely available and looks great when teamed with tables of other materials too.

We’re kicking off our search with wicker furniture. Resin wicker is weather resistant so can be left out for years in the sun, snow and wind thanks to its synthetic polyethylene make-up, unlike regular wicker that would only last about a year out in the elements before it started to break down and lose its beauty. All weather wicker is widely available and looks great when teamed with tables of other materials too.
Resin wicker chairs come in all manner of shapes and sizes, but check out these armchair style pieces that have been teamed with a wooden table, the look is très chic! With a few extra cushions added to soften the backs of the seating, guests are more likely to linger later for after dinner drinks. Don't forget to leave a few cozy throws around too, just in case some guests begin to feel the nip of the breeze as the sun goes down. A patio heater is also a handy way to keep guests warm and toasty into chilly evening time, or if you'd like to set a more atmospheric scene, how about an attractive outdoor fireplace or centrally placed fire pit?

Resin wicker chairs come in all manner of shapes and sizes, but check out these armchair style pieces that have been teamed with a wooden table, the look is très chic! With a few extra cushions added to soften the backs of the seating, guests are more likely to linger later for after dinner drinks. Don’t forget to leave a few cozy throws around too, just in case some guests begin to feel the nip of the breeze as the sun goes down. A patio heater is also a handy way to keep guests warm and toasty into chilly evening time, or if you’d like to set a more atmospheric scene, how about an attractive outdoor fireplace or centrally placed fire pit?
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We're not discovering a brand new idea here, wicker outdoor furniture has been around for a very long time, but it really can look amazingly contemporary when selected in the right silhouette.

We’re not discovering a brand new idea here, wicker outdoor furniture has been around for a very long time, but it really can look amazingly contemporary when selected in the right silhouette.
The black seat cushions on these keep things looking sharp and bang up to date.

The black seat cushions on these keep things looking sharp and bang up to date.
The chairs can have a lovely light look, especially in a white finish with a slimline outdoor table.

The chairs can have a lovely light look, especially in a white finish with a slimline outdoor table.
Black wicker can look pretty cool too though–team with matching decorative bowls or fruit baskets for a cohesive look. A buffet of colorful summer fruits will zing against the backdrop of a black table too.

Black wicker can look pretty cool too though–team with matching decorative bowls or fruit baskets for a cohesive look. A buffet of colorful summer fruits will zing against the backdrop of a black table too.
These sets are great for both modern and traditional gardens.

These sets are great for both modern and traditional gardens.
White wicker chairs

Outdoor wrought iron furniture has always been a firm favorite, so a dining set of this style is definitely worth consideration when kitting out your garden patio or pool deck. The main draw back however is that these pieces are typically very weighty to move around, so they don't make a great choice if you commonly move your chairs to follow the last rays of the setting sun.

Outdoor wrought iron furniture has always been a firm favorite, so a dining set of this style is definitely worth consideration when kitting out your garden patio or pool deck. The main draw back however is that these pieces are typically very weighty to move around, so they don’t make a great choice if you commonly move your chairs to follow the last rays of the setting sun.
Solid and traditional, and elegant in design, these pieces make the perfect place to serve brunch, or sip tea in the sunshine. This chair design has a timeless appeal, and a neat table completes the look perfectly.

Solid and traditional, and elegant in design, these pieces make the perfect place to serve brunch, or sip tea in the sunshine. This chair design has a timeless appeal, and a neat table completes the look perfectly.
Black wrought iron outdoor furniture
Wrought iron outdoor chairs
Wrought iron chairs table
Now, onto teak finish, another sophisticated choice. Sets like these have a laid-back feel whilst retaining a smart edge.

Now, onto teak finish, another sophisticated choice. Sets like these have a laid-back feel whilst retaining a smart edge.
Teak chairs look warm and inviting, especially when matched up with a teak table.

Teak chairs look warm and inviting, especially when matched up with a teak table.
This table would even look at home in an interior setting.

This table would even look at home in an interior setting.
Round teak table
Outdoor dining benches are extremely in vogue right now, and provide a great opportunity for squeezing in a few extra diners at the table.

Outdoor dining benches are extremely in vogue right now, and provide a great opportunity for squeezing in a few extra diners at the table.
Colorful exterior chairs are a fun and bold choice.

Colorful exterior chairs are a fun and bold choice.
Wood black outdoor table
Outdoor table
White outdoor chairs
Outdoor dining set
Subtle colors that blend into the surroundings keep things looking clean and uncomplicated.

Subtle colors that blend into the surroundings keep things looking clean and uncomplicated.
Wood white outdoor dining suite
Round white outdoor table
Black outdoor chairs
A white simple lined set has always looked fresh.

A white simple lined set has always looked fresh.
White outdoor dining set
White outdoor furniture
Outdoor dining stools
Don't forget you can mix and match all manner of colors and materials in a modern setting.

Don’t forget you can mix and match all manner of colors and materials in a modern setting.
Black outdoor dining chairs
White wood outdoor dining set
Contemporary outdoor dining bench
Modern outdoor table chairs
Outdoor table chairs set
Surrounding nature can inspire your color palette, like this cool blue ocean scene.

Surrounding nature can inspire your color palette, like this cool blue ocean scene.
Green blue outdoor chairs
Outdoor dining
Outdoor dining bench
Metal outdoor furniture
Modern outdoor dining set
Modern outdoor chairs
Gray outdoor chairs
Orange outdoor chairs will bring sunshine to the dullest of days.

Orange outdoor chairs will bring sunshine to the dullest of days.
47 Orange white outdoor dining set
48 Round outdoor table
49 Outdoor wicker wood dining chairs table

50 Chic outdoor dining suite

Photos: via INTERIOR DESIGN IDEAS

Until next time…

Blessings from my home to yours,

Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around

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We’ve had more rain during this first week of March then we normally have for the entire month. I mean the kind where fish swim across the road and cars are floating instead of driving. Enough already!

Today, however, dawned with a beautiful pink and blue sky, no wind and warmer temperatures. I had to get out outside and what a joyous gift awaited me. It was a feast for the senses. I swear the air was perfumed with the earth coming alive. Birds were singing as if in celebration. As I walked and looked around, I saw pink cherry blossoms, flowering white tulip tree blossoms, daffodil’s saying “good morning” with their cheery yellow flowers. As I looked up, there were the spring green buds on the trees that in a few months will offer their cooling shade. It seemed to have happened overnight.

As I took deep, cleansing breaths, it just felt so good to be alive. I realized again how profoundly healing nature is.

It doesn’t matter if we live on a park-like estate, have a small yard, or a deck or patio, we can create our own version of an outdoor paradise and feel connected to the outdoors with all of its bounty and the healing power it gives to our mind, body, and spirit.

This week, I’m sharing with you some exquisite photos and quotes that I guarantee will lift your soul and remind you of nature’s constant renewal. They remind us, too, of how our lives are constantly being renewed as well. As the long winter turns into spring, we also get a new start.

So take a break, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, take a deep breath and let your mind enjoy a little journey as you view the photos and read the beautiful words. You’ll be glad you did!

“There’s something very important to me about having a kind of relationship, with plants and animals, that can be transacted wholly without language. The warmth of one’s body is a form of communication. The stroke of one’s hand is a means of communication. In the garden those forms are heightened. I have a tendency when I’m walking in the garden to brush the flowers as I go by, anticipating the fragrant eloquence of their response. I get a sense of reciprocity that is very comforting, consoling.” — Stanley Kunitz, The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden

“Gardening, as compared to lawn care, tutors us in nature’s ways, fostering an ethic of give-and-take with respect to the land. Gardens instruct us in the particularities of place … For if lawn mowing feels like copying the same sentence over and over, gardening is like writing out new ones, an infinitely variable process of invention and discovery. Gardens also teach the necessary if un-American lesson that nature and culture can be compromised, that there might be some middle ground between the lawn and the forest … The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway.” — Michael Pollan, Second Nature

“One’s sense of one’s self as the center of one’s life, all life, dominates and we forget that, despite the striving, anguish, limitless sensations and desires, we will become the earth itself. A life feels so large and sprawly, so magnetic — it attracts people and objects to it — and when all is said and done, despite the flares of helplessness or angst, it feels sufficiently controlled: it is impossible to imagine ourselves reduced, anonymous, disconnected.” — Diane Ackerman, Cultivating Delight

“The earth and our own bodies, by casting shadows, seem to be the opposite of light. But if you have gazed up through the leaves of a tree at the sky, if you have watched the jeweled crests of waves, or held a shimmering fish in your hand, or lifted you palm against the sun and seen ruby light blazing through the flesh of your squeezed fingers, you know that matter is filled with fire. Matter IS fire, in slow motion … The resistant stuff we touch and walk on and eat, the resistant stuff we are, blood and bone, is not the opposite of light but light’s incarnation.” — Scott Russell Sanders, Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World

“The essential thing is not so much that children should grow up (although they must), as that grown-ups should not lose altogether the innocent sensual pleasures that we knew at our beginning. We should be able to find our way back to the bright discovery days of the world as it was perceived and known in childhood, when every day brought new things to experience and learn … There is nothing like a garden to stimulate and satisfy each and all of our senses.” — Allen Lacy, The Inviting Garden

“To tip a weed from the earth is satisfying. There is a pale, crackling sound heard in the head and felt in the hand as the tenderest root fibers break from their holdfasts; then a bright, cheery crunch as the clump itself gives way. I like the weightiness of the clump; I like the way the weight lightens as the soil, shaken out, beaten out, spatters its sustenance back to the ground. There is a fine sensation of murder.” — Sara Stein, My Weeds: A Gardener’s Botany

“Compared to gardeners, I think it is generally agreed that others understand very little about anything of consequence.” — Henry Mitchell, The Essential Earthman

Until next time…

Blessings from my home to yours,

Nancy

Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around

Images courtesy HOUZZ

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Have you ever wondered why as human beings we crave nature?

Indeed, we lose ourselves without nature around us because we are a part of the animal kingdom and there’s a definite kinship.

Imagine for a moment living in a home that has no windows. It’s almost impossible to do. It would be a kind of death because without nature we die inside. That’s why purchasing a home with a view is so desired and also has a higher price tag.

Studies prove that access to nature reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, increases well-being, enhances problem-solving skills, and reduces fear and anger.

Restorative effects can be achieved by simply looking at nature or natural elements.

Take a look at these photos and see examples of some of the ways that living indoors can also include a feeling of living outdoors at the same time. This can be especially helpful if you’re thinking of remodeling. If you’re wondering how to keep out the birds, small animals, and creepy crawlies, there are ways to deal with that issue and still have the feeling of open air.

Create seamless flow. An ample-size pivoting glass door makes an impressive entry on its own — but pair it with a back wall of glass doors, and the light really flows. The same flooring material indoors and out creates an uninterrupted flow from the front to the back of this home.
Add an around-the-corner window. Break away from the traditional four-walls-and-windows pattern by incorporating a corner window. Getting rid of the corner makes you feel as if you are part of the view, and this spot is likely to become the highlight of your home. If you have a spectacular view from anywhere in your home, that’s where to put your corner window.

Corner windows are not just for grand vistas — they also do an amazing job of bringing the outdoors in even if the view is just to your own backyard.

More ideas for corner windows

Give a garden a private entrance. A small garden off the master bedroom can be a lovely place to relax in. Sliding glass doors allow you to enjoy the view while inside and let in extra light. Consider sectioning off a small part of your yard with shrubs, trees or a fence for privacy. A water feature is a serene touch and also helps mask noises from neighbors.
Grow a garden off the bath. You don’t need to have a huge yard to create a unique garden feature. A narrow stretch of yard on the side of a house could be planted with bamboo for privacy, and opened up to the bath with a wall of glass. For more flexible privacy, consider adding sliding shoji screens.
Give a desk a view. If you like to daydream at your desk, open it to a fabulous view. Positioning your desk in an upstairs room will offer the best views, no matter where you live — bring the windows from the desk level right up to the ceiling for maximum views and light.
Design a family room with doors. A walk-out basement or ground-floor family room can be enhanced with accordion or pocket doors, or even a garage door, that can be completely pulled away to blend indoors and out. The immediate connection with the outdoors could help lure kids away from electronic screens and into an impromptu game of hoops or hopscotch.
Lose the wall. Opening up an entire side of your home with floor-to-ceiling glass doors is a high-impact change that could revolutionize your daily life. This feature is especially suited to modern homes and midcentury ranches in not-too-cold climates, but it could work well for other home styles — consult a pro to find a style that works with your home.
Reimagine the breezeway. Treat your breezeway more like a greenhouse for a dose of sun and light, even in midwinter. Lightening up a connecting space like this will flood the adjoining spaces with natural light, too.

Echo your home’s shape in outdoor areas. A wraparound patio that mirrors the shape of the home, especially when paired with sliding glass doors and plentiful windows, makes the indoor and outdoor spaces feel more interconnected.
Photos: HOUZZ
Photo Captions:
LAURA GASKILL,
HOUZZ Contributor

If you need help in bringing more of the outdoors inside your home, please email me at me@nancymeadowsdesigns.com. I’d love to help you.

Until next time…

Blessings,

Nancy

Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around.

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Have you ever wondered why we’re attracted to a home because of the view?

The home might not even be our “perfect place,” but what we see when we look out of the windows makes us want it.

I’ve had clients who have done this. They felt they could change the home to suit them but they could never replicate that view. They felt an immediate heart-felt connection and had to have it.

How does this happen and why is it so important?

Mitchel Parker of Houzz sheds some light on this and explains how universal human beings are in how we react to nature and its psychologically restorative powers.

Not all of us have million dollar views, but the good news is we can create them and receive all of the psychological benefits using Mindful Interior Design.

READ ON;

A $1 million view. That’s an interesting thing when you really think about it. For someone to fork over a cool million just for the opportunity to wake up to a certain landscape every day says a great deal not only about what that view might entail, but about what humans desire. A space could be small and void of character, but if it has windows that frame rolling hills or water, the value of that space skyrockets. Why?

In 1984, Roger Ulrich, now a professor of architecture at the Center for Healthcare Building Research at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, published an article in the journal Science that found a correlation between the speed of recovery of patients in a suburban Pennsylvania hospital with a view of nature compared with patients with a view of a brick wall. He showed that patients with the better view recovered more quickly, had fewer negative comments about nurses and took fewer potent analgesics than those with the brick wall view.

Psychology professors Stephen and Rachel Kaplan at the University of Michigan would go on to pioneer research that shows how environments can have restorative properties. Basically, when people look at nature, it helps restock mental energy.

“Think of energy in your brain as one big pot of stuff churning around like lava,” says Sally Augustin, an applied environmental psychologist and current president of Division 34 of the American Psychology Association. For years, she has studied human’s experience with homes, workplaces and hospitals. “When doing knowledge work you deplete your mental resources, whether it’s your job or playing chess. When mental stocks come down, we get to be irritable, cognitive performance and social performance declines, and we don’t get along well with others.”

Rebuilding mental energy

But when we look at something that interests us, something that doesn’t require a lot of attention to monitor, we build back up our mental energy and our mood and performance improve. This happens when looking at nature, but also anything that produces a natural, soft fascination.

In other words, if you can zone out on something simple and soothing — not Angry Birds — your mind is able to restore calmness.

Most of this effect has to do with evolution. When early humans could observe their natural surroundings from a secure vantage point, with a clear view of any approaching danger — like lions — they could relax, feel at peace, reflect on life and make a plan for it. The same theory holds true today.

“My brain is almost exactly the same as some relative I had several thousand years ago,” Augustin says. “Our brains change so slowly that things that made us comfortable in the environment in which we evolved are comforting to us now. Watching the countryside allows us to look at our world softly, easily, and consider what might happen to us next.”

It goes back to safety

Most of this desire to be connected to nature happens unbeknownst to the homeowner. They might realize they like looking at nature and find it calming, but still have difficulty explaining why. “People paid lots of money for places with views in Roman times, before the concept was investigated in a scientific way,” Augustin says. “On some sort of primordial level, we value views.”

And just what is an ideal view for restoring our minds? Augustin says to imagine a home perched on a hill overlooking a rolling English countryside. The green landscape is pleasing to the eye and, subconsciously, your mind can see danger approaching, allowing your mind to relax, drift and replenish.

“You don’t want to be deep in a jungle setting,” she says. “That’s because danger lurks in the jungle, and you can’t see very far ahead. I like that phrase, ‘It’s a jungle out there,’ because what it means is life is stressful, like a jungle.”

Bringing in bits of that ancestral environment

Of course not everyone can live on a hill in the English countryside. But the good news is that you don’t have to. rollThe key is to find ways to re-create that ancestral environment in which we can relax and contemplate nature without feeling threatened. While the aforementioned picturesque view is ideal, there are ways to trick your mind into receiving restorative benefits from nature, even if you can’t afford a $1 million view.

Water. Augustin says that research has shown that restorative benefits can be gained even while looking at cityscapes. The only catch is there needs to be a body of water visible — a lake, pond, ocean, etc.

Or, if you have a courtyard view, a water fountain can be mentally restorative, too.
Let the light in. “Sunlight is magical and does a great thing for our mood and health, so pull the drapes back and let more daylight in,” Augustin says.
Hang a picture. Adding relatively realistic landscape art — rather than abstract — can have restorative benefits too.
Add plants. You can get a psychological boost from adding plants, as long as you don’t go overboard.

You don’t want a jungle-like setting. Remember: if it’s hard to pick out danger, it will be more difficult to relax.

“In a 10 foot by 10 foot room, three or four plants is great,” Augustin says. “You get the green effect but you’re still able to survey your environment. If you have 50 plants in the same room, you’ve basically re-created a jungle.”

Easy houseplants to try

Play with fire. Staring into flickering flames is also restorative. “Fire has the same fascination for us as long as it’s contained and there’s no danger coming from it,” Augustin says.
Get a fish tank. If you live in a basement apartment with no windows, or only have views of a brick wall, try to invest in a fish tank. Augustin even suggests a laptop screen saver or videos of an aquarium can give you a mental boost.

Until next time…

Blessings,
Nancy

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Summertime…the season where we can enjoy hot summer days and warm, soft evenings.

We can’t help but want to be outdoors and really soak up nature and all of its bounty. And yes, we even put up with the bugs as best we can!

Summertime. It’s what we long for throughout the dark and dreary winter.

This week I want to share with some outdoor entertaining ideas written by Houzz contributor, Laura Gaskill.

Whether you’re entertaining a group of friends or just yourself and significant other, you’re sure to find some ideas you’ll like to try this summer in your own backyard.

1. Chill in an outdoor living room. Make your patio even cozier by bringing a few home comforts outside. Roll out a rug, plump up the couch with extra pillows and keep a soft throw within reach. 

If you’re short on outdoor furniture, haul a few pieces out from your living room temporarily — sitting on real furniture outside feels luxurious.

2. Sun bleached and beachy. Conjure up a summery mood with pale tones of white and sand. Hang white curtains or suspend fabric overhead to provide coverage from the sun. Decorate the table with white shells, hurricanes filled with sand and tiny tea lights.
3. Outdoor dining, French or Italian style. Draw inspiration from the French and Italian traditions for long, leisurely lunches al fresco. Set out big platters of simple, seasonal foods family style, along with wine in glass carafes. 

Keeping a basket of essentials (sunglasses, straw hats, sunscreen) available for guests to grab as needed is a thoughtful touch.

Tip: Make the bash budget friendly. Hit budget-friendly stores like Ikea and Target to stock up on party supplies in goes-with-everything white. Paper lanterns, string lights and candles set the mood, and an inexpensive set of plates and unbreakable cups will see you through many parties. Give a basic picnic table a DIY update by stenciling words onto the surface.
4. Tropical takeout. Who says you have to cook to throw an awesome party? Order in from your favorite local restaurant instead and focus your effort on the decor. 

A coffee table placed on colorful outdoor mats and surrounded with floor cushions makes a fun spot for a small dinner party to congregate at. Set out colorful parasols, lanterns, potted succulents and sculptures or other artwork borrowed from inside.

5. Homegrown-edibles swap. Get together with garden-loving friends for a party that celebrates the bounty of the season. Invite guests to bring something they have grown, picked or made from scratch — from a basket of perfect juicy tomatoes from their garden to jars of homemade jam or pickles, or even home-brewed beer.
6. Foreign cinema. With a small projector (either purchased or rented) and a laptop, you can screen a movie right in your own backyard. For a sophisticated evening, set up tables outdoors and show a foreign film along with dinner. 

For a family-friendly twist, show an independent kids’ film and follow up with s’mores around the fire pit. Check out the DVD list from the New York International Children’s Film Festival for ideas.

7. Just desserts. When you would really like to have people over, but dinner sounds like too much, host a dessert party instead. Invite friends to show up after dinner and surprise them with an elegant dessert table set up on the patio. 

A few desserts, perhaps a cheese plate, plus coffee and tea are all you need. Finish off the evening with a special dessert wine if you like.

Tip: Create mood lighting. Beautiful lighting is the key to hosting an outdoor party that really wows guests. And the great thing is, it doesn’t need to be expensive! Line up hurricane lamps or tiki torches along a path, scatter tea lights on tables and hang lanterns and string lights overhead. If you are concerned about fire, stick with battery-powered candles rather than the real deal.
8. Cocktails at dusk. Ask guests to arrive just as the sun is beginning to set for cocktails and small bites on the patio. As the sun dips lower, turn on the landscape lighting and clusters of candles on every surface.

I’d love to share ideas from your own outdoor summer parties. Let me know on my Facebook page.

Until next time…

Blessings,
Nancy

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