It’s Mental Health Awareness Week hosted by Mental Health Foundation and the theme in 2021 is Nature. Nature has powerful benefits for our mental health and many people discovered how vital it is for our happiness during the long months of the pandemic. Being in nature can lead to positive emotions, reduce stress and bring calm, wonder and joy to our daily lives. The foundation encourages everyone to connect with nature: “This year we want people to notice nature and try to make a habit of connecting to the nature every day. Stop to listen to the birdsong, smell the freshly cut grass, take care of a house plant, notice any trees, flowers or animals nearby. Take a moment to appreciate these connections.” So you can enjoy the nature outdoors or then you can bring the outside in!
Bring the outside in with nature-inspired interior design
I’m a firm believer in nature’s healing powers. Growing up in Finland surrounded by large forests and countless lakes, I’ve always had a strong connection with the natural world. The forest was my playground: I knew all the plants by their name, birds by their sound and I understood the yearly cycle of life in nature. We foraged for bilberries and wild mushrooms, collected meadow flowers and just walked around looking and listening. I feel completely safe and calm when I’m in the woods. That sense of peace is a feeling that I desire to replicate in my own home too by bringing the outside in.
Our small living room, aka the snug, is a tribute to our beautiful nature and simple Scandinavian style. It’s nature-inspired interior creates a calm and peaceful space to relax and to feel that important connection with the natural environment. I’ve filled it with plants, flowers and natural elements and decorated it with botanical wallpaper and soothing colours. It’s my favourite room and I’m excited to show you around.
The room was pretty ok even before the makeover (see ‘before’ images below). The beautiful solid oak floors and a wood burning stove meant that it felt cosy and warm. The walls were painted in a pretty shade of light blue and there was a funky penguin wallpaper on two walls. The colour palette didn’t however feel quite right for the room. I decided to transform the space into a Scandinavian oasis of calm and bring the outside in. So last summer I rolled up my sleeves, painted the entire room and called in my decorator friend to apply a new wallpaper. As a consequence, my calming, nature-inspired Scandinavian living room became a reality and I love it.
Biophilic design and floral prints are a great way to improve our connection to nature in our own homes. A key to my nature-inspired interior scheme is the Swedish Pine wallpaper by Sandberg. It brings the nature right in. The pattern is stunningly beautiful and takes me back to the pine forests of my childhood.
Cromarty, a light and calming green grey shade by Farrow & Ball felt perfect for the room. It’s also goes well with the white corner sofa and the wooden floors. I accessorised the space with green and brown cushions, natural wood and rattan as well as monochrome geometric soft furnishings for some structure. The dreamy, Swedish forest poster is from Desenio, the rattan lampshade from Habitat and the wooden coffee table from La Redoute.
House plants, dried flowers and fresh wild flowers are a very simple way of bringing the outside in. Not only do they look nice but evidence shows that they also can calm the heart rate and reduce stress. Cow parsley is in season at the moment and I love it’s delicate white flowers and fern-like foliage. It makes a really beautiful centre piece when placed in a beautiful vase. I’ve used the iconic, organically shaped Aalto Vase by iittala designed by Alvar Aalto in 1937. The legendary shape is derived from the Finnish landscape and lakes.
I’m so happy to have a space in my house where I can enjoy the calming and comforting effect of nature. You don’t need to change the whole room or have a big budget to bring the outside in. As I’ve shown, connecting with nature can start with a single house plant or a bunch of meadow flowers in a vase. And whilst making your home an oasis of calm, remember to go in the woods every once and a while… and just breathe.
I will finish with the words of Eckhart Tolle: “Nature can bring you to stillness, that is its gift to you”. #connectwithnature #mentalhealthawarenessweek