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.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Print
  • email

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

Share and Enjoy:
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Print
  • email

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

Share and Enjoy:
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Print
  • email

Who doesn’t love gazebos?

Now that summer is just around the corner and you’re pulled into the outdoors, what better place to enjoy your garden than from inside a gazebo.

A little hide-a-way from which to escape to read a book, sip a beverage, journal, or just daydream. They’re like little houses that safely enclose you and yet allowing you to smell the flowers,watching all of the birds, and listening to the soft fall of raindrops on its little roof—just enjoying nature and feeling joy at being alive.

Not just for summer either. Imagine yourself watching the leaves fall on a warm autumn afternoon, or wrapped in a blanket and seeing the wonder of winter’s first snowfall. Not to mention, witnessing the earth come alive in the spring.

Year round, a gazebo is just plain good for the soul.

Enjoy these photos from HUFF POST HOME. You just may be inspired to add a gazebo to your garden!

gazebos
Photo by pochacco20/Flickr

gazebos
Photo by Bill Ward’s Brickpile/Flickr

gazebox
Photo by Jared Cherup/Flickr

gazebos
Photo by bambe1964/Flickr

gazebos
Photo by Small_Realm/Flickr

gazebos
Photo by Jack Snell “Snappy Jack”/Flickr

gazebos
Photo by David_Yannick/Flickr
Until next time…

Blessings,
Nancy

Share and Enjoy:
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Print
  • email
More About

More About

Read more about Nancy Meadows and her work as a designer...

Services

Services

Find out how Nancy can help you in solving your design dilemmas...

Contact

Contact

Begin the process of decorating your home or work space with Nancy Meadows...