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The Complete Guide to Nature-Inspired Interior Design

There are a variety of design styles and techniques that come and go each year. But one that is timeless is a natural interior design style for you home. You can never go wrong with this style because nature should always be present in our daily lives.

Nature is continuous and yet never the same, making it the best place to gather ideas for decorating your home and creating a seamless flow throughout the different rooms in your house. The Complete Guide to Nature-Inspired Interior Design aims to show you how you can create your own calm yet exciting place to live.

There is a lot of research nowadays that is showing that being in nature relieves stress, helps you focus, and does a number of other things to your mind and body that have long lasting positive effects. At ShizenStyle we aim to blend contemporary natural designs help create both a relaxing yet exciting lifestyle. Bringing nature inside is a key part to this natural interior design style.

A Stress Reliever

Allowing yourself to be surrounded by the natural elements causes you to relax and also realize that you are a part of something much bigger than just ourselves. Studies have shown that taking a walk in nature greatly helps your creativity. When you relax and you let the stress go your mind can naturally connect the dots and bring together different realizations that you are unable to see when you are busy or stressed out. As much as possible you should aim to create this type of calming environment inside the home. Blurring the lines of nature within the home and outside you can recreate a place of peacefulness and calmness can do wonders for your mind, body, and spirit.

Stay in Tune With the Seasons

An important part to a nature-inspired interior design is that you realize that nature is not static. To truly appreciate the seasons and to be connected with the world outside you need to create a design element inside that reflects the current outside condition.

Every season can be appreciated for its own beauty and this is something that you should strive to find joy and harmony with. In the Northeast we are blessed with the beauty of the four seasons and I love to bring elements of the current season into the interior design.

This is different from decorating for the holidays. Decorating for the season may be much more subtle than large holiday themes. In the warmer months do a little research to see what grows locally at that time of year. This could be both vegetables as well as flowers that are blooming grasses, the color of leaves etc. Winter has its own beauties which can be highlighted with simple things like Pines, Juniper, holly, dried branches Etc.

Natural Sunlight

One of the best ways to create a nature-inspired interior design is to allow natural sunlight in. You may not be able to adjust your architecture but if you have the opportunity the larger the windows that you can get. This can also be accomplished with extra wide glass sliding doors and skylights. Being able to see outside and see the current weather condition brings a sense of harmony with you and the outside.

Natural sunlight can brighten a room and but can also create interesting shadows. Without the dark there would be no light, therefore shadows allow us to appreciate these bright spots. There is even a famous Japanese piece of literature called ”In Praise of Shadows,” but I encourage you to read if you are interested in this discussion of natural lighting and shadowing. Yes creating shadows can be an art form in itself.

If you are in the city, possibly next to a building, or just don't have a view of nature outside a skylight may be a good option. It allows you to bring a lot of light in without having to give up wall space either. Solid glass walls are a nice idea for some but also eliminate being able to hang things on the walls and make it more difficult for shelving.

In Japan where it's very crowded and often houses are very close to each other, they have developed architectural styles that still employed large glass windows and doors, but feature a solid wall in front of the window outside. This wall may be 50 feet away from the glass, allowing for a large garden or outdoor patio furniture, or it may be only a few feet away from the window. Usually this wall can serve as a nice backdrop for a simple garden even if it's very close to the house. You can have some simple plantings that get highlighted with a solid white or black background from the wall, which also lets in a lot of natural lighting.

Raw Materials and Handmade Items

Raw materials and handmade items are great for allowing natural elements into your interior design. A lot of natural wooden furniture can really bring the raw nature into even a contemporary setting. You are seeing many things like tree stumps as tables, live wood slab tables, and thick timber cut benches.

You don't want to clutter the area but having a few original handmade items allows you to appreciate the connection between human beings and nature. These items become the room’s statement piece and a talking point with guests. Handmade crafts or works of art allow you to appreciate the beauty of raw nature and a human beings’ creativity.

Natural stone being used inside can also bring a very down-to-earth feeling to a room. There are some natural slate floors that you could install, or include stones and pebbles in a bathroom design, for example.

Nature-inspired Pottery and Ceramics

Part of your interior design can also be made up of natural pottery and ceramics. Dinnerware and kitchenware that have more earth tone colors or lighter pastel colors and also have a slightly rougher or natural texture to them can really have a calming feeling when you eat. It allows you to appreciate the food better. Again if these items are handmade or original you also get that deeper connection between art and nature.

We have a wonderful dinner plate set a light tan color that is smooth yet slightly rough and is just a wonderful thing to eat on. My two favorite coffee mugs both have a rougher texture but still have a clean, clear glaze over top giving you a real texture in your hands but isn't rough on your lips and tongue. I have both a brown to black earth tone cup and a bright blue and black cup that I really enjoy drinking out of.

Vases can also be a whole other world of different textures and colors that you can change out seasonally. These will highlight different flowers for displays that you might have.

Terrariums and Indoor Plants

I love smaller terrariums where you can sort of create a whole mini garden scene in a small space. They make some of these terrariums in glass balls that sometimes even have a string to hang them on. What’s nice about the terrariums is that you get to see the dirt or maybe sand in the bottom of the plant as well, reminding you of the whole process of nature and growing. Traditional pots only show you the outcome of what has taken place underground in the dirt, glass allows you to see all of nature, but still in a refined clean vessel.

Indoor plants of course can be one of the easier ways to bring nature inside, but be careful with some indoor plants because they can often distract you from the current season. Many indoor plants in the Northeast are more tropical plants or plants that thrive in warmer zones than what you would find naturally in this area.

Therefore part of my philosophy is with staying in tune with the seasons, and having bright flowering tropical plants in January just isn't a natural occurrence in some places like New York. However they do bring a lot of positives for health and cleaning the air.

In Japan they have these small moss balls called kokedama. Kokedama moss balls that are wrapped in twine to keep them together but also often have a very small growing flower or maple tree, for example, growing out of them. Sometimes they are placed on a piece of wood or natural pottery that also helps to create a miniaturized nature scene.

Floral Arrangements and Ikebana

There are a lot of different floral arrangements can be used to highlight this season. If you were looking for some inspiration try having a look at the Japanese art of floral arrangement, also known as Ikebana. Different schools of Ikebana have different philosophies some being very bold and artistic and others being more subdued, minimalist, and creative in a way that aligns with the concept of wabi-sabi, or the appreciation and the beauty of imperfection.

If you would like to explorer this Japanese aesthetic concept of wabi-sabi please have a look at this article on wabi-sabi for your home and garden.

Foraged Décor

No matter what season you are in have a walk outside and look around for small items that you might be able to forage and use as nature-inspired decor. These items could go in a nice vase that could be displayed near the entryway around the dining table or could simply be displayed alone on a wall or a bookshelf.

This can be a combination of branches, grasses and flowers. A dead branch with many interesting curves and straight lines can really be a thing of beauty. Just to make sure you are not foraging in areas that you are not allowed to take items from like a public space or a neighbor's yard. When in doubt get permission first.

Living Walls

Living walls and green Walls can also be another great way to create a nature inspired interior design. Even in tight city areas or in an apartment, you can add a very artistic piece of greenery. This could be a wide variety of different colors create something very vibrant, or it could be the same color with different patterns or squares on the wall to make it interesting. Different green wall or living wall systems have a variety of different ways to water them.

Nature-Inspired Art or Wallpaper?

Another part of natural decor is making use of images of nature instead of actual nature. Artwork can be very creative and actual photos of nature that can really allow you to bring yourself to a different area. I find that I can appreciate natural landscape scene that is blown up and I know was the work of a photographer working with natural elements in nature. I find it more difficult to appreciate a natural landscape scene on wallpaper.

However wallpaper with abstract theme to it such as rolling hills or mountain ranges in the distance can be a very beautiful thing and also allow my mind to relax and drift away. A whole wall of wallpaper trying to mimic a white birch forest, for example, seems to be trying too hard and thus unnatural.


Your home may or may not have a fireplace and sometimes merely having chopped wood stacked up can give the image or impression of a fireplace. Fireplaces seem to represent a place in nature like a log cabin for example, where you can relax from the everyday stresses of life.

If you have an actual wood-burning fireplace the stacked up logs next to the fireplace I'm building an actual fire may be the ideal inspired piece of nature you need. Even if your fireplace doesn't work just displaying firewood in the fireplace can give a similar satisfying ambiance. Modern gas and electric fireplaces now also create a very natural feeling with the flames and the heat given off.

I hope the complete guide to nature-inspired interior design was helpful in showing you that there are nature inspirations in every season. We truly believe in this concept of modern and rustic design living in harmony with each other, highlighting each other's beautiful imperfections.

If you would like to explore more articles on contemporary and natural home and garden ideas please visit us at ShizenStlye.

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