Bring the Outside In

For many of us, the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors convey a subtle message of relaxation. But often our homes, whether large or small, have no connection to the world outside. Here's how to bring the relaxing elements of the outdoors in.
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Relaxing Sights

Outdoor Pictures

Scenes from nature are poignant, particularly if you live in an urban center. Luckily, you have many options for art.

Enlarge Image

Outdoor scenes and fresh
flowers can provide a natural
lift to your surroundings.

  • Scour antiques or thrift stores for landscape paintings and prints, and keep your eye open for botanical prints, such as have been culled from antique books.
  • Display professional photography or your own snapshots, such as a favorite outdoor spot in different seasons.

  • Cut out and frame pictures from calendars or greeting cards; enlarge on a color copy machine if necessary.

  • Use stencils or hire a decorative painter to create a woodland or beachy wall mural.

  • Use sun-sensitive paper (available at art stores) to beautifully record the negative image of items such as leaves, twigs, and grass.

Plant for Window Views

Treat every window as a frame, and choose yard plantings that compose the best view.

  • Include framing vertical elements, such as a columnlike cypress tree or a diminutive dogwood tree.

  • Decide on a focal point, whether that be a bench, birdbath, or hydrangea bush.

  • Accent both the foreground and background with complementary plants, flowers, or shrubs.

  • Keep treatments simple to maximize an outdoor view.

  • In addition, consider installing a window box inside the house. Something growing on a windowsill can help you stay in touch with the outside world. Flowers, cut or growing, add color and sometimes even scent to a room. If you lack a green thumb, realistic silk plants can add a garden touch.

Animal Magnetism

Being attentive to animals keeps you in touch with the rhythms of nature.

  • Within a window's view, hang birdfeeders and scatter seed to attract squirrels and chipmunks.

  • Where conditions permit, plant a garden to lure butterflies and dragonflies.

Earthy Mementos

If you collect natural souvenirs -- driftwood, sand, rocks, seashells -- from sentimental locations or exciting vacations, put them on display.

  • Stack shells and rocks, or layers of different-color dirt, in clear glass cylindrical vases. For interest, use different-size vases and stack items at various heights. Group the vases together on a mantel, side table, or bookshelf.

  • Mount items inside a shadowbox frame, or create a mini-landscape beneath the glass top of a curio table.

  • Don't collect natural materials? Department and home stores carry a wide selection of fountains small and large that keep a trickle of water flowing. Choose from tabletop, wall-mounted, or freestanding styles.

Continued on page 2:  Other Senses


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