Bringing nature inside your home can really transform it into a soothing haven from the rest of the world. It's a good way to reconnect with nature too.
Each natural element you bring into your house should be carefully chosen and placed. Gathering them can be a therapeutic and mindful experience in itself.
Sue Fan and Danielle Quigley, authors of Do Inhabit, share their tips for creating a natural home.
Decorating with natural elements
By looking for inspiration whenever you step outside, you can add a sense of wonder to your life and a piece of nature to your home. Be amazed by the shapes and colours of nature.
This is where spontaneity comes in. Look for things that interest you. A foraged branch is our go-to object. When placed inside it has an immediate impact with its unique shape and the unpredictable way it takes up space. An old piece of driftwood can be a table centrepiece.
You can hang lights from a large sun-bleached branch or stand it upright in a corner. You can hang any branch on a wall or use it as a display for jewellery.
We often pick up stones on our travels - from beaches, lakes, the woods. From Iceland, we bought crocheted stones (pebbles with a crochet cover). They sit on our desks as a reminder that Earth's natural resources will always be the most beautiful, but they can also be enhanced.
Use this natural beauty in your home. Striped stones in a bowl, in a sink, next to the bathtub, as a door-stopper. Place wild findings on a shelf, on a stack of books, hang them on a wall. There are no boundaries between you and nature. It's easy to make beauty from that which is already so beautiful.
What are the health benefits of forest bathing?
Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term that means 'taking in the forest atmosphere' or 'forest bathing'. Developed in the 1980s, it has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.
The aim of forest bathing is to slow down and become immersed in the natural environment. Your task at hand is to use all your senses. A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information compared a city walk to a forest walk. The amount of activity was equal, but researchers found the forest environment led to significant reductions in blood pressure and certain stress hormones.
Forest bathing's official site says a walk in the forest will boost your immune system, and improve mood, sleep and energy levels. Go to a forest. Walk slowly. Breathe. Open all your senses. This is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, the medicine of simply being in the forest.
If you take the lessons learned from forest bathing and do nothing more than pay attention, you'll achieve a more creative and considered life. Nature is boundless. There are hundreds and thousands of cues to take from the Earth.
If you look closely, you'll see a very delicate balance of how and where things grow, patterns in all living things. There is no shortage of inspiration. The more in touch you are with nature, the more in tune you are with life.
How to go on a wild walk to collect natural decorations
On any walk, we love picking up stones, branches, moss and seed pods. For us, foraging is second nature. If it doesn't come as naturally to you, the first step is to go outside. Often. Take a walk with no expectations. Wander freely.
If you are on a specific foraging mission, you can take a tote, some clippers, and a pair of gardening gloves. Pay attention. Look at whatever interests you. Remember to look in all directions. Cut some greenery, pick up sticks, keep an eye out for feathers on the ground. Look for things that have naturally fallen or may have dried with the change of seasons.
There is always opportunity to see the beauty in nature and find a place for it in your home. As your collection grows, you can move or replace them. A simple wreath feels perfect any time of year. All of these natural treasures can be placed in trays, in vases or perched on top of frames.
We like to stack a few stones the same way we stack books. Keep a vase on hand that holds your dried pods. Pair them with things you've dried yourself that hold up such as Craspedia - the bright yellow Billy Buttons, lavender and eucalyptus.
Each walk you take can be a wild one filled with hidden treasures if you pay attention to everything around you.
Edited extract from Do Inhabit by Sue Fan and Danielle Quigley, published by The Do Book Company