12 tips to bring the outdoors in
|By Dana Dratch Bankrate.com
These days, you don't have to leave home to get a taste of the great outdoors.
From garden flowers to patio kitchens, some green
thumbs have a few favorite tricks to bring summer warmth and sunshine into their
"There are a variety of things you can do,"
says Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, author of "Apartment Therapy" and frequent
makeover expert on HGTV's "Small Space, Big Style." And whether you're
outside kicking back or inside looking out, "it makes it much more inviting."
It should be fun. "Don't be afraid to play," says
Sharon Hanby-Robie, an interior designer based in Lancaster, Pa., and author of
"Decorating Without Fear."
|Here are 12 tips on easy and relatively inexpensive
ways to bring the warmth and beauty of summer into your living style, whether
it's out in the yard or up on the windowsill.|
Use plants inside. "Plants are the biggest thing that I try to get
into people's homes," says Gillingham-Ryan. "They do put you in touch
with the earth. You have to take care of them; you have to water them." They
also clean and humidify the air.
Choose plants that will thrive
in the room's available light. Some good choices for strong light: geraniums and
palms, says Gillingham-Ryan. For lower light: Chinese evergreens, rubber trees,
ferns and pothos ivy. Peace lilies, which are hardy, will do
well in almost any light, he says.
Select natural materials. Balance out your electronics and plastics with
furniture or accessories made from natural materials.
place you have the option of using natural materials or a natural finish is a
way of bringing the outdoors in," says Gillingham-Ryan. Look for asymmetrical
shapes, rather than perfect circles and squares.
Got the polyester
wall-to-wall blues? Use a grass cloth runner or cotton area rug to break up the
3. Try window
boxes. "Your perception of your space" is governed by "where
your eye can travel," says Gillingham-Ryan. With window boxes, "you
extend your sense of the space, and you've brought the outside in."
can find them in all sizes and prices to fit just about any need. If you're not
handy, some versions will mount on a patio railing with minimal installation.
For a few dollars each, you can buy plain wooden boxes and paint or stain them
yourself, or you can spend a little more and buy the finished product. If you're
worried about weight, look for faux terra cotta made from light, strong plastic.
Plan ahead. When it comes to the yard, "What do you want to do out
there?" asks Hanby-Robie. "Dinners for two or entertaining for 10 or
12?" Once you decide that, if you have a big yard, you also have some choices.
Evaluate which areas would be best for the activities you have in mind. If you
want a garden, which areas have the best sun and drainage? If you're planning
a fragrant garden, which rooms do you want to catch the aroma?
you're making plans for a yard, especially a big yard, "look at it as rooms,"
says Hanby-Robie. "If you try to look at the whole yard, it's like trying
to look at your whole house. It's easier to break it down."