Foraging in the forest:
finding materials that link your home to the great outdoors
Thinking about redecorating? Before you run to the nearest interior design store, consider looking to the forests instead. Natural, minimally-worked materials help create an interior that seamlessly transitions from the outdoors a relaxing environment that's a pleasure to come home to. Ideas include:
- Instead of a formal curtain rod, use a smooth piece of wood and hang natural linen curtains. Here in the Southwest, manzanita is a popular choice for its red bark and sculptural growth patterns. You can also carve and shape sturdy branches into stair case railings.
- Don't forget furniture. Some furniture makers specialize in furniture that leaves the initial tree forms intact. Here in Prescott, Arizona, Steve Rouette, owner of the boutique furniture company Out On A Limb, finds standing dead alligator junipers and turns them into furniture that leaves the wood's gray wany edge exposed. His armoires feature copper sides that have been pressed with branches, further connecting the interior of the house with the natural world outside.
- Another way to connect your home's interior with natural processes is to choose furnishings and accessories which change over time. This concept, known as Wabi Sabi in Japan, emphasizes the asymmetric, imperfect and transitory nature of life. In practical terms, it encourages the use of natural materials like rice paper and bamboo screens, whose colors deepen in response to the passage of time. Other materials to consider include rusted metal, rattan and wicker.
What works in the Southwest will fail utterly in the Northwest because the color palettes are so different in the two regions. Using wood from your own property is one way to ensure that the colors will work as is matching and coordinating outdoor hues with your home's fabrics, flooring and countertops.
The final result is like a breath of fresh air blowing in from the countryside. It will not only be a more open and inviting space, but one that may heal and renew as well.
Amy Snyder is the interior designer at Sun Pine Homes, a custom home builder and developer in Prescott, Arizona. Sun Pine's current project is developing The Canyons at Granite Park, a residential community first founded in 1905 and filled with ancient boulders. For photos and more information, please visit www.LiveTheCanyons.com or www.SunPineHomes.com