Decorating with Natural Elements
Once limited to flower arrangements and random shell collections, bits of nature (and nature-inspired objects) now rule the roost. See how to get this trendy, organic look in your home.
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Sometimes the addition of a single natural object can launch a vignette into perfection. Look for items that have insteresting shapes and are to scale with the rest of the display. Here, a twisted branch with plenty of tendrils is the same proportion as the stack of books and box it sits on, which creates balance within the display.
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Taxidermy and antlers are hot in home decor and can add a little rustic appeal to cottage style, but they look just as at home when juxtaposed against a more modern aesthetic. Shop estate sales and flea markets to dig up mounted antlers.
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While natural objects on display certainly exemplify au naturel decor, there is something to be said for the motif. If branches and shells aren't your thing, but you want to bring a little nature to your decor, opt for 2-D representations of flora and fauna on fabrics, artwork, and pillows. Abstract interpretations, such as on these silk watercolor pillows, bring a layer of sophistication, too.
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Inspired by Nature
For a woodsy approach to the natural motif, try faux bois. This woodgrainlike pattern is versatile and looks fantastic on everything from walls to upholstery to accessories.
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In a room filled with neutrals and earthy greens, use artwork to continue the theme. Look for botanicals or Audubon-esque prints that match the colors in your room's scheme.
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Go all out with the nature theme and slide natural finds into places where function is the primary purpose. Here, a hutch storing baking essentials gets a style boost thanks to starfish and a few plants potted in antique silver vessels.
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Beachy and Bright
Nature offers almost endless inspiration for home decorating. From the oversize bird-feather prints to the conch shell and woven area rug, this room gives off an undeniable beach-house vibe. The brightly patterned pillows emphasize colors found in the artwork and keep the space looking fun and fresh.
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Round It Up
Use bowls and trays to corral stray objects, and display shells or rocks inside the pretty vessels.
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Nature as Art
For wall art with dimension, hang a twisty, tangly branch on the wall. Try manzanita branches, which are characterized by their forked, spindly tines.
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Nature offers beauty in the most unexpected places -- in this case, rocks. Oversize cut agates add texture and depth to a vignette or bookshelf display. Pairing these elegant natural finds with a thick, twisty tree branch and vase filled with freshly cut, winding twigs adds another dimension of natural appeal and texture.
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Branches and shells aren't the only ways to get a natural look -- instead, try elements that evoke the essence of the aesthetic. Here, rustic character does the trick. Hewn wooden ceiling beams are accented by a weathered-wood farm table and aged cabinets. Textures such as wicker and sun-bleached finishes help to continue the plucked-from-outdoors vibe.
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Even in thoroughly modern spaces, a touch of nature can introduce a certain softness and balance to sleek surfaces and angular corners. In this white bathroom, a wooden stool made to look like a tree stump provides a splash of natural flair against the ceramic tile floors and marble-covered walls. The stool is also the perfect spot to place a towel, sponge, or bar of soap during a soak in the tub.
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Rooted and Planted
An ensemble of small houseplants adds the perfect amount of natural character to any space, even in this urban dining room. Placed in three different-size pots, the green plants function as a unique and balanced centerpiece. Beautiful wood grains on the tabletop and chairs further incorporate organic flair. To maintain free-flowing conversation at the table, keep your containers low so diners don't have to duck around the plants to chat.
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A collection of small glass terrariums and vases provides the perfect place to display flowers, small houseplants, mosses, and other natural elements. The mix-and-match collection looks right at home atop a console table in a living or dining room. Pair your plants with a vignette of gardening books and small bird or botanical prints to emphasize the eclectic garden look and unify the decor.
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Mix and Match
Combining elements found in different natural settings creates a unique style statement. And you don't have to group your displays based on what is found in the same environments: Pair moss orbs with shells, coral with cacti, and river rocks with palm fronds. Here, a large seashell is filled with tiny pebbles and succulents. The combination of elements adds the perfect amount of natural style to this sunny space.
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If you love bright citrus hues or rich jewel tones, but also love the natural look of branches and stone, marry the two for a look that is uniquely you. Use colorful flowers such as orchids and ceramic vases in vivid hues to display willowy branches. Showcase a stone fireplace with a white surround, or display agates or stones in a room without a fireplace. Modern patterns in natural tones, such as this geometric rug in brown and white, will also provide a mash-up of styles.
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Whitewashed wood paneling and a seagrass floor covering lighten this living room and add texture. Shutters, wicker furniture, and gingham draperies give the room beachy style, while natural accents such as a tray of sea-inspired plants add fresh personality.
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Focus on the Earth's beauty by accessorizing with natural objects. This dresser, made from salvaged oak, is outfitted with twisted tree roots, a lamp with a driftwood base, and framed photographs of greenery.
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Botanicals always look elegant. Paired with traditional furnishings, they bring pastoral sophistication to a room. Frame and mat botanical prints and hang them in a grid. Don't be afraid to take over an entire wall -- the ivory mats and simple colors of the prints keep the look subtle.
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Decorating with Diversity
The beauty of decorating with nature is that the relics complement your keepsakes and flea market gems. Embrace decorating diversity and pair serving trays with shells, photographs, and nature prints.
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Boxed butterfly prints, pinecones, twine balls, paper boxes -- all are decorative pieces with great stories to tell. Showcase your collections by propping framed illustrations on easels and displaying them on a narrow shelf.
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Nature reigns in this living room. Designed with a subtle aquatic theme in mind, the space relies on natural elements to blur the line between outdoors and indoors. Casual, shore-inspired furniture pieces with wood and woven finishes act as neutrals in the room. Sandy beige and watery blues mixed with beachy textures mimic a relaxing seascape. Found elements, such as pieces of driftwood and wispy beachgrass, provide natural finishing touches.
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For a transitional look with a bit of edge, pair bold, bright color with natural finds. This driftwood candleholder is an organic antidote to the sleek lacquered-orange table. If your whole room is modern, solidify the contrasting elements by repeating the new theme on another accent elsewhere in the room.
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Savvy Salvage Finds
For a subtle take on natural decorating, pair primitives with organic forms, such as branches, rocks, and wood. Burnished metal pendants with rope-covered cords set an industrial tone in this dining area. A French hayfork hangs as a sculpture on the far wall, nodding to farmhouse rusticity.
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Found Objects as Favorite Things
Beach style is all about having a free spirit. A marble fireplace surround paired with a honed-driftwood mantel creates an interesting contrast between refined and natural elements. Distressed wooden oars take a sculptural role when propped against a wall.
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More Ways to Get the Natural Look
Anything that looks like a relic from vacations past makes a great addition to your natural collection. Found objects, driftwood, sand dollars, new purchases in earthy or sea-inspired colors -- they all give your home an unstudied, collected look.
Next Slideshow 1-Hour Fall Crafts
1-Hour Fall CraftsWith so many holidays around the corner, fall is the perfect time to do some extra decorating. If you're short on time, try one of our one-hour fall crafts. The easy projects will spruce up your home without stealing an entire afternoon.Begin Slideshow »