Spring is nature’s way of saying, Let’s party!
– Robin Williams
I hate California – it’s cold and it’s damp! But this afternoon, in an instant, the clouds cleared beyond my worn-out black laptop perched in front of an old single pane window. I stopped writing and walked a straight line to open the 90-year-old brick-colored front door. I could almost taste the newly-made air saturated with freshness from the rain. The late day was shining with brilliant lime greenness as I stepped out to a cluster of outrageous purple thistles in full bloom at my fingertips.
Nature is an elixir for me. It cheers my day, heals my stress and renews me as nothing else can. This time of year is intoxicating with its innocence, vigor and vibrancy. It is indeed a time to party both outside amid the new growth and inside through rooms that connect us to nature.
Growing up in a Texas tract house whose windows and doors were covered with sun-stifling maroon drapes layered over tightly shut chartreuse plastic blinds made me absolutely crave openings. The bigger the openings are, the more I rejoice in the connection between indoors and out that allows even a touch of nature to come shining through.
Yes, openings are of the utmost importance to me. And my clients often feel the same. You might think this is because we live in California, but I have worked on the East Coast, in the Southeast, Southwest and Canada, and the need for light and connection to the earth is universal.
Here are a few examples of some of my favorite openings that I hope will inspire you to create or enhance your own. Each image demonstrates principles – not rules – that I learned through years of working inside and outside of rooms. I don’t believe in rules, by the way. My profession has a lot of them that I delight in breaking.
Principles (Not Rules)
- Openings should be as large as possible in consideration of access on both sides of the spaces they connect.
- Exterior doors should open out to maximize space for interior furnishings.
- Openings facing views will draw people outdoors.
- If you don’t have a view, create focal points with fireplaces and fountains to create movement and sound. Sculptural elements in a garden can also beckon people outdoors.
- Where possible, create enticing places to sit surrounded by nature, whether wild or cultivated.
- Good design repeats itself – use analagous colors, shapes, textures and patterns to create harmony between indoor and outdoor rooms.
- Select plants that reflect the feeling of your home – e.g., cottage versus contemporary. Choose colors of plants and pots that relate to colors inside your home.
Good luck creating new openings to the outdoors, or making the ones you have more enticing. Have fun indoors and outdoors this spring. Party with the plants and trees, which bestow on us some of their freshest and most brilliant colors this time of year. Invite friends and family over to celebrate this season of rebirth. And whatever you do, don’t take nature for granted. Stop and smell the thistles!
Yours in the love of nature,