11 Nature Inspired Projects

Channel your inner Thoreau with these woodland-inspired home decor projects. Project designer Matthew Mead offers 11 ideas hand-picked from the great outdoors (plus free patterns for every project)! Mother Nature will be proud.


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Mushroom Magic
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Mushroom Magic

    Transform a secondhand dresser into a woodland wonder with a couple of coats of paint and our curvy-cool mushroom stencil. Here's how: First, sand and prime an old dresser. Then, paint a base coat of silvery blue latex paint. Allow the dresser to dry. Download and print several copies of designer Matthew Mead's mushroom pattern. Experiment with several sizes that will fit your drawer fronts. Print the mushroom stencils on contact paper, then cut out.

    Carefully arrange the mushrooms in your desired pattern on the drawer fronts. With the stencils in place, give the entire dresser a coat of bright green paint. When the paint is dry, carefully peel off the mushroom stencils.

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Screen Saver

    Create a mantel-ready accordion screen with a few basic materials and this ready-to-print pattern. Begin with four equal-size pieces of foam-core board. Connect them with tiny craft hinges (available at your local crafts store). Then use spray adhesive to attach color copies of the patterns below-or your own nature photographs, magazine images, or even floral fabrics. We love the way designer Matthew Mead's close-ups of leaves and pinecones bring nature front and center.

    Accordion Screen Pattern Downloads

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In the Mail

    Designer Matthew Mead wrapped foliage-theme paper around everyday mailing tubes to create this hip wall display. He used double-sided tape to affix the paper, then attached the tubes to the wall in a staggered pattern with strong adhesive dots.

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Tag, You're It

    Beauty is in the details. So add beauty to knobs, pulls -- even gifts. Collect images of seedpods and leaves or nature-inspired words you love. Or download and print a few of Matthew Mead's patterns below. Cut out, then glue the images to the backs of jewelry frames. (You can find inexpensive jewelry frames at crafts stores). Then hang at intermittent intervals from string or twine.

    Art Tag Pattern Downloads

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Box Set

    What to do with leftover jewelry boxes? Give them new life as a wildlife-theme artwork. Designer Matthew Mead gathered 35 small square boxes and painted the inside and outside of each box bright green. When dry, each box was outfitted with a cut-to-size image, which was glued to the bottom. After Matthew glued graphic nature images inside each box, he glued the boxes together to form a rectangle.

    Browse vintage trail guides or nature books for images to copy and cut out. Or use some of Matthew's patterns below. Your finished box art is the perfect place to highlight treasures acquired on your next hiking trek.

    Box Art Pattern Downloads

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Hang It Up

    We love designer Matthew Mead's knack for morphing everyday objects into instant (and wallet-friendly) wall art. Here, he painted wood hangers in shades of bright green and warm brown, then adhered woodland images to the backs. Use wrapping paper, wallpaper, fabric scraps, magazine images-anything that says "nature" to you. Matthew embellished a few of the hanger frames with extra cutouts of leaves and birds. Then, he hung the finished pieces from clear thumbtacks in the wall.

    Hanger Pattern Downloads

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Fungus Among Us

    Dress up your dining table in outdoorsy style. All it takes is a drop cloth or fabric piece, fabrics spray paint, and a mushroom stencil. Cut your drop cloth or fabric to the desired size. Hem the edges. Download and print designer Matthew Mead's mushroom stencil. Cut out stencils and use double-stick tape to arrange them in a fun pattern on the cloth. Spray fabrics paint all over the cloth, and let dry. Peel off the stencils and admire your new tablecloth!

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Nature Cubes

    Create several of these gift boxes to have on hand so you won't have to settle for cheesy store-bought ones when a friend's birthday sneaks up on you. Or group a few of them on a shelf for a vignette Mother Nature would dig.

    Cube Pattern Downloads

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Glass Act

    Want a quick update that's as simple and sweet as a stroll through the park? Grab a few glass jars and old florist vases. Download the images below. Print and cut out. Curl the papers inside the glass jars and put on display. Hint: Heavier jars make fantastic bookends.

    Jar Art Downloads

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Mush Room

    Embrace Ma Nature by inviting these magical fungi onto your walls. Download the mushroom stencil below and enlarge to desired size on a printer. (For extra-large results, you may have to visit a local copy center.) Use the patterns as templates to cut shapes from fun, lively fabric. Iron the fabric onto fusible webbing (available at crafts stores), then adhere to the wall. Designer Matthew Mead used Mod Podge to make his mushrooms stick.

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Pillow Pick-Me-Up

    Take your sofa for a walk on the wild side with a forest-theme pillow update. Buy a basic beige pillow. Draw a freehand foliage design on contact paper and cut out. (Freehand designs work fabulously for this project. They feel more organic than a prescribed pattern.) Attach the cutout to your pillow. Use straight pins and tape to secure. Then spray bright green fabrics paint over the stencil. When the paint is dry, remove the stencil, fluff, and accessorize your favorite seating spot.

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