I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”
– Henry David Thoreau
Autumn boldly announces itself in the natural world. The tranquil green palette of summer explodes into vivid hues of red, orange, gold and brown. The beauty and abundance of this harvest season awakens our senses from the lazy days of summer, dazzling and delighting us, demanding we take notice and take stock before the dark days of winter. As the days shorten and the air turns crisp, we instinctively begin to retreat back indoors.
As you turn your attention inside this season, consider bringing elements of the natural world with you. Research shows that contact with nature enhances mental health, psychological development and spiritual growth. It can reduce stress, increase mindfulness and heighten sensory awareness. And spending time in natural spaces can impart a sense of connectedness, stimulate creativity and even speed recovery from illness or surgery.
Inviting the restorative and uplifting benefits of Mother Nature into your nest can be simple and affordable. Start with the natural cues right outside your front door – like plants, animals, water and rocks — and begin to mirror the seasonal changes you see outdoors inside your home.
Echo the colors of nature.
The hues of nature are steeped with feeling. Consider the calming blues of water and sky, the vibrant lush greens of new life, the mellow golds and grays of sand and stone. Using a nature-inspired palette indoors triggers like emotions. Bear this in mind when selecting paint and textiles for your rooms. Furthermore, color can unite your home with the rhythms of nature when you reflect the shades of the season inside. For fall, bring the brilliant colors of turning leaves – amber, scarlet, chocolate and wine – indoors to make your home feel cozy and warm. Harvest-inspired hues of pumpkin-orange and golden corn further echo the sentiment of the season. Incorporate seasonal pops of color throughout your home with artwork, candles, fabric, pots and flowers.
Welcome fresh air.
Whenever you can, open your windows or doors and literally bring the outside in. Fresh, outdoor air has a large amount of oxygen (needed by your brain and every cell of your body) and is free of indoor pollutants. It is refreshing, will give you a lift, and it won’t cost you a cent!
Enliven with plants and flowers.
This is one of the easiest and most obvious ways to bring nature and life into your home. It is also one of the most beneficial, working on a variety of levels to enhance your indoor space. Plants and flowers produce oxygen and filter the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and removing toxic pollutants. Studies show they can lift spirits, speed recovery, and promote wellness. Fresh flowers also add beauty, color and natural scent to your space. And they provide an ideal way to honor the seasons inside. Bring a bit of autumn indoors with golden or rusty-orange hued flowers such as chrysanthemums, sunflowers, zinnias and strawflowers.
Embrace natural light.
Have you ever noticed when and where beams of sunlight fall in your home? Is your kitchen table lit up in the early morning sun? Perhaps the setting sun casts a golden hue over a favorite chair. Knowing where light falls in your home throughout the day is a mindful way to bring the outside in, and to connect to the rhythms of the day. Plan to spend time in those areas that are lit up by natural light; place flowers or decorative elements where they will be spotlighted with sunshine. In the fall, the sun moves through a lower arc in the sky, creating longer and more golden light angles at dusk, and more narrow angles at dawn. Learn how this soft, seasonal light permeates your home and allow it to guide you in the arrangement of your rooms and time spent within them.
Display found treasures.
Nature offers a wealth of ways to decorate your rooms. Consider replacing store-bought knick knacks with more natural collections. Fill a wooden or earthen bowl with stones, rocks or pebbles. Tuck feathers in a vase. Display found treasures such as a fallen bird’s nest, sea shells or a snake skin on the mantel or a shelf. A dedicated nature table in the home is an ideal way to showcase treasures found around the yard or during walks outdoors; kids especially love an area dedicated to their finds. This space will naturally change with the seasons, reflecting the changing world outside. Fall offers a treasure trove of items worthy of exhibit, including colorful fallen leaves, acorns and wheat sheaves.
From farm to table décor.
Seasonal produce can make beautiful centerpieces and tabletop displays. In addition to adding color and texture to your home, the natural decorations connect you to what’s growing in the fields. Echo the autumn harvest indoors with a mound of pumpkins and squashes on the kitchen countertop. A bowl of apples, pears or nuts sit nicely on a coffee table for a vibrant display (and doubles as easy-to-grab snacks). Other seasonal ideas include hanging dried corn on the wall or door, setting out a basket of decorative gourds, or creating a traditional cornucopia, overflowing with seasonal goods, for your dining table.
Balance energies with elements of fire and water.
Welcome the soothing, peaceful energy of water indoors with a tabletop fountain or an aquarium. Swimming fish in an aquarium bring an added level of life and nature into your space. The tranquil energy of water can be balanced by the energizing and exciting energy of fire. Candles are a simple way to add the element of fire into your home. Choose those made from natural materials, like beeswax. The golden color and honey-sweet scent of these candles replicate the golden glow of autumn indoors. As the days get shorter, burning candles at dusk can be a comforting ritual that lasts through the winter.
Nature-inspired original art “More Sunshine” by Marcy Chapman
Other ways to welcome the great outdoors indoors include hanging nature-themed artwork, and displaying nature-inspired objects such as decorative bird cages, animal figurines, or throw pillows with natural images. Be creative, take inspiration from the world outside your windows, and let the beauty and grace of the natural world organically seep into your indoor space. Its curative and enriching rhythms are sure to follow, season after season.
Elizabeth Sniegocki is a writer and advocate of simple, mindful living. She makes her nest in Sarasota, Florida, where she writes, gardens, cooks, crafts and nurtures two sweet little chicks. Elizabeth blogs about her community, mothering, homesteading and natural living at A Natural Nester.