Creating harmony and connection between your interiors and the outdoors
‘Nature is the inspiration for all ornamentation.’ - Frank Lloyd Wright
Ah, spring has arrived and the wonders of nature are blanketing the countryside with shades of green and filling the air with a freshness and an optimism that only springtime can deliver. As an American from New England, where the season pinched between the frigid harshness of winter and the brazen humidity of summer is exceptionally stubborn, I delight in the fact that in this part of the world, spring arrives enthusiastically and with abundance.
As an interior designer, my areas of expertise primarily relate to the functionality and refinement within houses and buildings. I guide my clients in the exploration of their aesthetic desires and balance these with the necessary practicalities of their project. These discoveries are then translated into a structured plan of action and a solid course for implementation. To learn more about my process, click here: https://www.mandycuss.com/process. Garden designers do much the same, albeit in their realm of the outdoors. To coincide with our brave new world and our increased desire to connect with nature during the time of quarantine, I'll highlight below several simple ways in which you can begin to create a connectedness between your interiors and your outdoor spaces.
From the most structured of walled gardens rooted within the grounds of a grand country estate to the whimsical enchantment of a cottage garden, England is renowned worldwide for the loveliness of its flora as well as the charm and sophistication of its architecture. When the skies begin to lighten and the days begin to warm, it’s no wonder that we are eager to leave the fireside in anticipation of spending time in the spendour of the outdoors. Whether you are embarking on a major interior or exterior renovation, or simply making small improvements year-on-year, give some thought to what it is you’d like to feel when you’re using a space. Design is very much about creating special moments in the everyday – an enveloping, warm welcome when you step through the door, sitting quietly on your terrace sipping your morning coffee, snuggling up for a Friday night movie with the kids, an evening with friends and a glass of bubbles under a moonlit pergola. The process of design is a journey, emotional and thoughtful, and it’s key that your home reflects and supports you while telling a little story about you, what you love, or how you like to live.
Below are some simple but impactful suggestions to begin building an indoor-outdoor connectedness:
First Things First: To fling open those windows and doors and let the fresh air in is to uplift and refresh immediately.
Frame It: Use your windows as you would a picture frame. Assess what you’ll see from the inside-out as well as from the outside-in. Consider colour, shape, shadow, light, furnishings, and window dressings. Find ways of tucking away what you don’t want to see from a vantage point and thoughtfully positioning what you do.
Play with Scale: Bring in heaps of cuttings and arrange in a rustic jug, a crystal vase, a vintage basket, whatever! Plop on your table for all to enjoy. Make it big and beautiful. Greenery softens architecture, adds a focal point, and makes a room look lived in. In all seasons, I forage for branches and blooms at various points in their lifecycle. They add natural splendor, texture, colour, and energy to a living space. Large, unstructured groupings are often more sophisticated than an arrangement more formal.
Be an Original: Visit auctions, antique specialists, and scour boot sales in search of treasure. Buying only from retail shops where everyone else shops leads to bland, hopelessly dull rooms, regardless of location. Express your individuality by creating a truly one-of-a-kind space with items that speak to you and have a quiet story of their own.
Incorporate Natural Materials: Slubby linen, cool stone, crisp cottons, and found pieces from outdoors. These ground an interior and create a nuanced connection to the outside world.
Comfort Counts: Soften your outdoor space with comfortable seating and cushions, light some candles, play nice music, and set a beautiful table. Treat it like you would a room on the inside of your home.
Consider the Palette: Pick a palette and use it as a guide. Incorporate textures in the same colour family. This creates depth and interest, helping to make a space feel considered and complete.
At the most basic levels of our human existence, feeling connected to nature helps us to feel relaxed, calm, and invigorated; What a combination! Experiment, be mindful about your design-related choices and why you make them. Most importantly, let yourself have fun with your home, your garden, and the development and evolution of both. As Aristotle Onassis famously said, “The only rule is there are no rules.”.