There’s nothing quite like the restorative power of nature, no matter how much new technology tries to convince us otherwise. Mother Nature is so powerful, in fact, that entire architectural styles were developed to harness and enhance it. From mid-century modern to contemporary and ranch homes, there are several architectural styles that were specifically created with nature in mind.
Some of the first homes designed to maximize nature were mid-century modern houses. Early modernist architects like Richard Neutra and A. Quincy Jones saw the value of connecting the indoors with the outdoors, creating homes with expansive windows, wide-open floor plans, and organic materials that create harmony and connection with the surrounding landscape.
Around the same time that mid-century homes came into play, another architectural style with similar goals to maximize nature arose, called ranch-style architecture. Architect Cliff May is largely attributed as the founder of this style, particularly California ranch homes. He and other architects who subscribed to this style used elements like vaulted ceilings, large sliding glass doors, and clean, simple lines to marry indoor and outdoor spaces.
Fast forward to today, and you’ll find that many designers of contemporary homes value indoor/outdoor harmony as well, drawing elements from the aforementioned styles to create fresh and modern homes that similarly honor the outdoors. And given how much technology begs us to step out of the natural world and into the digital one, it feels more important than ever to prioritize a connection between the outdoors and our interiors to create more peace in our daily lives.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a home with architectural elements that create harmony between the indoors and outdoors, then there are a few things you can do to maximize their zen-like potential even further.
Open Floor Plans
An open floor plan gives an exhale-inducing feeling not unlike that which comes with stepping outside into the open arms of nature. But that’s only if it’s styled properly. If you fill an open floor plan with too much clutter and unnecessary furniture, then you lose some of its zen potential. So, put on your Marie Kondo hat and minimize the chaos by only keeping the things that are absolutely necessary and/or bring you joy. And rather than define uncertain areas with huge pieces of furniture, incorporate unobtrusive items, like rugs and minimal mid-century furniture, to separate one area from the other.
High ceilings instantly make a space feel more expansive, particularly if you apply a few tricks to enhance them. For instance, most windows in rooms with high ceilings fall well below the ceiling, so instead of installing window treatments right above the window, install them closer to the ceiling to make your windows seem larger and draw the eye upward. You can also add a statement light, like a pendant or chandelier, to the middle of the ceiling to really showcase its height.
Lots of Windows
Speaking of window treatments, they can make or break your interior’s bond with the outdoors. Even if drawn back, dark and heavy curtains instantly cut off the outdoor connection and make a space feel heavier. Instead, opt for light and breezy treatments that offer some transparency to increase your home’s indoor/outdoor feel. You can also remove treatments altogether and install an electric shade that looks virtually invisible during the day while providing plenty of privacy when needed.
If your home’s architecture features a lot of organic materials, like stone, brick, and wood, then be sure to highlight them rather than hide them. For example, you can opt to leave wooden ceiling beams in their natural state instead of painting over them. But if you don’t have a lot of control over what shows and what doesn’t, then consider adding smaller elements, like plants and wooden accents, to enhance and complement the organic materials of your home without altering them.
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