(Family Features) Despite the comfort and convenience it affords, modern society is contributing to a vanishing relationship with the natural environment. However, there are plenty of ways to bring nature indoors to reap the benefits of an earthy connection inside your home.
According to a survey commissioned by the Velux Group, a gap is growing between the time Americans spend outdoors and the time they’d like to spend in nature.
In the United States, 63% of survey participants said they average one hour or less a week in nature, but 88% agreed they would like to spend more time. In addition, the majority of respondents said they believe nature, daylight and fresh air have a positive impact on stress levels, and most also agreed those factors have a positive impact on mental well-being.
“Exposure to nature such as trees, plants and views of open spaces has been found to improve the cognitive ability to focus and read social cues,” said Arie Greenleaf, associate professor of counseling at Seattle University. “Even ADHD symptoms in children are mitigated by views of and interactions with nature in a host of different ways. Worker productivity, how people feel about the work they do and the level of engagement, improves with a view of nature.”
Despite ample research demonstrating the benefits, the study revealed a common theme, with 85% of participants believing they spent more time in nature as children than children do today. That’s a trend that translates into adult habits, too.
“With work and family responsibilities, we can’t always fit spending time outside into our busy schedules, effectively making us the indoor generation,” said Peter Foldbjerg, head of Daylight, Energy and Indoor Climate for The Velux Group. “One thing we can do is improve how our homes connect to nature: From houseplants and nature-inspired art to skylights and screened porches, there are a wide variety of options for creating nature connections in the place we spend most of our time – our homes.”
Learn how to bring more nature into your home with these decorating and design ideas:
Living plants not only add a touch of the outdoors, but they also help clean the air inside your home. In smaller spaces, even a few pots of herbs can add a refreshing touch of nature. If flat surfaces and floor space are at a premium, get creative with your wall space and incorporate shelving and wall-mounted planters.
Sunshine and fresh air
Whether it’s from windows or skylights, bringing natural light and fresh air inside can keep your space fresh and inviting. There are scientifically proven correlations between natural light exposure and mood, as well as your body’s ability to maintain its circadian rhythm. Refreshing the air in your home can help eliminate volatile organic compounds, pet dander and microparticles from cooking and cleaning.
If your home is lacking in natural light, a skylight may be easier to add than a window, and skylights bring in twice as much light as vertical windows; their angle allows more of the sun’s rays to reach farther into the room. Some skylights, including many offered by Velux, also offer venting options that can contribute to cleaner air.
Studies have shown that simply viewing photos or paintings of nature scenes has mental and physical benefits. You can also use decorative mirrors to reflect natural light and make a space feel larger and brighter.
Botanically inspired patterns
Look to pillows, area rugs and wallpaper to incorporate patterns inspired by flowers, foliage or landscapes outside. These decorative elements can boost your spirits and create a welcoming environment indoors by reflecting the outdoor world.
Sisal rugs and baskets, wood planking and stone countertops or side tables can add texture and a touch of the natural world to your interiors. These materials let you incorporate nature into your design aesthetic with natural textures that not only look stylish but feel great, too.
Connect with Nature at Work
If you work outside your home, at least a third of your day may have you stuck inside an office. Make your work environment more appealing with these ideas that let you embrace nature even while you’re on the clock.
- Incorporate natural life with a desk plant. You may feel more refreshed by that touch of green, and it helps clean the air around you, too.
- Find the sunlight. Today’s offices actively promote free-range working, so find a sofa near a window and get your best work done there. Or spend a few hours working outside each day. If your office design is behind the times, take a daily walk outside during your lunch break.
- Surround yourself with natural materials. Transform your desk-scape with a bamboo monitor stand, stone smartphone holder or woven seagrass inbox.
- Trick the senses with natural soundscapes. Earbuds are a must in today’s open-plan offices. Instead of playing music, escape with nature-inspired tunes like rain, wind in the trees or forest birds.
- Select art influenced by Mother Nature. Decorate with nature-inspired art, whether it’s photos of landscapes or a sunflower print.
Find more ideas for integrating the outdoors into your home design at whyskylights.com/outside-in.