The key to energizing a quiet room is right outside your window: It's all about layering textures, colors, and patterns that are rooted in nature. Decorator and author Lauren Liess shares how to follow Mother Nature's lead.

Updated September 11, 2018

Mother Nature might very well be the world's best teacher when it comes to decorating lessons. Outdoors, a mix beats a match, simplicity reigns, and, well, those colors! "Nothing is more beautiful than what's outside," decorator Lauren Liess says.

That was her starting point when asked to give this serene room a new look for spring. All it took were a few moves and a colorful, comfortable layer. Liess split up matching chairs and lamps, amped up the blues and greens with more pillows (no assigned seating), swapped the graphic rug for one with a soft pattern, and brought in lush plants and trees. Consider the seeds of inspiration planted.

Look Outside

Sometimes the most successful inspiration for an interior comes from a love for the great outdoors. "I look to the surrounding landscape and use colors that are naturally occurring," Liess says.

Nuggets of turquoise inspire the living room's watery accent color, an antique watering can leads to the perfect metal finish, and wispy greenery keeps it all fresh.

Update Artwork

Try a relaxed approach to artwork. Replace one painting with a gallery wall that includes a big piece of modern art in earthy colors.

Press leaves and cover mats in kraft paper to make your own botanical art.

Use Houseplants

"My favorites are asparagus ferns, foxtail ferns, maidenhair ferns, topiaries, and baby's tears," Liess says. A live tree, like this ficus or a fiddleleaf fig, perks up an otherwise empty corner.

The living room's windows wow with linen curtain panels in unexpected turquoise. They're paired with woven shades for a layered look without weight. A caned-back bench adds seating without blocking light.

Add Texture

An array of pillows shows the magic of mixing textures and styles. "Without it, a room falls flat," says Liess. "Much of it can come in actual textural materials such as seagrass, wood, and stone."

A garden stool makes a quirky and practical side table. Its stone base supplies additional texture near a couch with nailhead trim, a natural sisal rug, and a rustic wood coaster.

Meet the Decorator

Lauren Liess is an interior designer and author of Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating (Harry N. Abrams, 2015). See more of her work at Pure Style Home, a decorating blog.


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