Bringing the outdoors inside – 4 ways to connect your living space with nature

Want to enjoy nature no matter what the weather outside? These tips will help you create an indoor space that nods to the great outdoors

houseplant cuttings
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Over the last tumultuous year, we have all been spending a lot more time outside, either in our own outdoor space, parks and gardens or seeking out and discovering long forgotten local nature reserves.

Today, with the restrictions easing and work rapidly gearing up, I find myself looking longingly out of the window wanting to get back out there. Every time there is a break in the clouds, I run out and sit for five minutes to catch the fleeting rays of the sun on my face. 

We are a nation with a reignited love for nature. It is therefore easy to understand the huge boom in houseplant sales, as our decorating schemes and Instagram feeds are peppered with luscious greenery. If you're looking for a way to surround yourself with nature whether you're outdoors or in, I've listed out a few of my favourite ways to bring the outside indoors, both simple and not-so-simple, below.

Choose a signature houseplant

I have always filled an awkward spot with a nice big palm or cheese plant, I think that houseplants coordinate beautifully with any decorating scheme and give any room so much more depth.  

Although I am in no way a horticultural expert, I am not even that green fingered, I have loved houseplants and have surrounded myself with them, in varying states of decay, all my life.  One of my earliest childhood memories is curling up in the bamboo egg chair that used to hang next to the most enormous Monstera deliciosa in the house I grew up in.  his cheese plant, that my dad named ‘Arthur,’ lived in the corner of the hall and was so huge it started growing across the ceiling and seemed to be attempting to take over the house. 

If you're worried about keeping a houseplant alive or don't have much experience caring for them, invest in a lovely large Cast Iron plant.  They are virtually impossible to destroy, and its long, elegant leaves make a gorgeous feature in any space.

Propagate houseplants with cuttings

Taking cuttings, or plant propagation, is a really easy way of expanding your plant collection for nothing.  Most luscious tropical and sub-tropical plants can be simply cut below a growth node and grown on in water.

I have masses of propagated Monstera deliciosa and large leaved Philodendrons in vases, jam jars and even an old cafetieres. One of the best things about the darker leaved plants whose natural habitat is under large rain forest tree canopies, is that they don’t like direct sunlight. Therefore, plants such as the Fiddle Leaf Fig or the glossy leaved Paper plant are a perfect way to brighten up any gloomy corner of your home.

Create a picture window

As an architect, my favourite way to give focus to your outdoor space or view is the inclusion of a picture window and integrated window seat.  It is fantastic way to create additional seating without taking up any floor area, and fairly straight forward to build.  You can even use an existing window, and by dropping the cill to approximately 500mm from finished floor level and increasing the depth of the window board and reveals to around 400mm, you can make a simple yet comfy place to perch.  You can integrate storage, and even a bookshelf to maximise the use of this new space.  Remember however, the replacement window must incorporate toughened glazing as any window with a cill level below 800mm from floor level must comply with this building regulation.

Dropping your kitchen window cill to worktop level is another easy way to maximise light in and views out.  That extra window depth is ideal for growing herbs and even tomato or pepper plants without encroaching onto your usable worktop.  

Add large, glazed doors to the back of your home

Over the last couple of decades, there has been a trend for opening up the back of the house with large, glazed doors connecting kitchen dining rooms with your outdoor space. If you're contemplating a home renovation or extension, or have the budget to bring the outdoors in in a big way, this can be a wonderful idea. It instantly connects your home with your garden both physically and visually.

To create even more of a natural vibe, and prevent overheating, incorporating a pergola with evergreen climbers creates great natural shading and cooling and gives interest and biodiversity all year round.   

Laura Jane Clark
Laura Jane Clark

Laura studied in Glasgow at the Mackintosh School of Architecture and also the Liverpool School of Architecture, qualifying in 2007.  Working on site and getting hands on with building has always been extremely important After leaving University, she worked with a construction company for several months prior to starting as an architectural assistant with Guy Greenfield Architects in London.  “Working on the tools and getting a basic idea of what site work entailed, gave me a really good foundation for developing detailing, site visits and working closely with the construction team.  I think working on site is really important for anyone wanting to become an Architect, especially female Architecture trainees.”

 

Laura set up her own practice, Lamp Architects, ten years ago and her passion lies in innovative house designs, small scale redevelopment and micro-regeneration of long abandoned and brown field sites.  After featuring in the first episode of George Clarkes Amazing Spaces on Channel 4 with the derelict underground public toilet conversion into a flat, she has appeared as an architect on two series of Ugly House to Lovely House, a judge on Shed of the Year for 4 series and is currently one of the architects on BBC2 Your Home Made Perfect with Angela Scanlon.

 

Laura is also currently renovating an old derelict Georgian House outside Glasgow and builds and designs her own furniture and interiors in association with Universal Cloud Cover.

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