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Natural Materials in the Home Intrigue the Five Senses

As stories of nature deficit disorder become more common in the nation's magazines and newspapers, it's time to start thinking about how to increase your contact with nature.

While it's important to get outside, it's not the only way to connect with nature. Stimulate each of your five senses by bringing the great outdoors indoors. Some ideas:

Sound: Water features providing the sound of a chortling brook can be large enough to fill a yard or small enough to keep on your desktop. Playing CD's of whale songs or forest sounds soothes the soul. And the sound of wind chimes will connect you to the weather outside.

Touch: Use soft weaves like chenille to mimic animal fur or go for the real thing and get a dog or a cat, if you don't already have one. Leather, wicker and rusted metal furnishings are both tactilely and visually intriguing, as are wood and slate flooring. For wall-coverings, consider seagrass paper, silk tapestries or textured plaster.

Smell: Spray essential oils like vanilla and lavender and consider using natural cleaners infused with the natural oils of citrus and tea tree.

Sight: In addition to the floor and wall coverings mentioned above, decorate with fabrics and artwork that feature animal and botanical motifs. And you don't have to be stuck with flowers, either. Think ivy, bamboo, and foliage as well. Consider nature photography and when you're
out walking, collect old bird nests and put mineral "eggs" in them like malachite, lapis and moonstone.

Taste: Don't forget to design with your taste buds in mind. A decorative container of kitchen herbs can supply rosemary, lavender, thyme and other flavors to complement your cooking.

There are endless possibilities for using your home to reconnect with nature, and while many of them are free or very inexpensive, the rewards are always great. Your only limit is your imagination!

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.

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