Design Hints

Nuturing a Natural Viewpoint

Cultivate perennially pleasing interior scenes by introducing exterior design elements, garden ornaments and natural materials indoors.

To cultivate perennially pleasing interior scenes, Mechanicsville, Maryland, homeowner Michelle Garner, whose home was featured in our March 2010 issue, brings exterior design elements, garden ornaments and natural materials indoors. Incorporate these hints from her home to sprout garden style in your own spaces:

Charmingly Contain Earth's Bounty: Fill formally shaped urns, watering cans and rustic sap buckets with fresh-cut blooms or houseplants. Or, use wood egg or milk crates to hold stems of cotton, as Michelle does near her living room window.

Let Them Weather: Reproduce Mother Nature's well-seasoned patinas by placing new trellises and flowerpots outside for a month or two before bringing them inside. Rain, humidity and wind will produce rusty or mossy surfaces that further the outdoors connection when they are relocated indoors.

Put Up Porch Lights: Exterior lights, such as black iron lanterns, add distinctive shapes when used to frame a mirror or as substitutes for more traditional sconces. Michelle outfitted the paneled expanse over her dining area fireplace with a pair of rustic lanterns, and she followed a similar pattern in her master bath with two more outdoor lights flanking the mirror.

Rethink and Repurpose: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there may be no more fetching forms than those found outside. Display figural garden ornaments, statuesque plants and topiaries, dried wreaths and weathered wood birdhouses as stand-alone elements or as focal points in a display of like-minded collectibles.

Go Out on a Limb: Cut long stalks of red-twig dogwood, place them in a crock, and locate the lofty arrangement in a room's corner to elevate interest. Or, employ sturdy birch branches or other interestingly barked limbs as rods to support curtains or bed canopies. Michelle uses this trick over the master bedroom headboard, where a branch supports a swag of fabric that suits the room's feminine look.

Incorporate Natural Images: Stencil or freehand paint botanical motifs on walls, ceilings or furniture. Choose cabinet hardware and curtain rod finials shaped like twigs, flowers or leaves. Pick flower- or leaf-patterned fabrics for window treatments, accent pillows, table linens and bedding to round out your home's fresh-from-the-garden feel.

Written by Ann Wilson
Photographed by Dan Mayers
Styled by Phoebe Parker