Decorating with Natural Elements

basket made from wood pieces

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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Simple Addition


Sometimes the addition of a single natural object can launch a vignette into perfection. Look for items that have interesting 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 the box it sits on, which creates balance within the display.

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Color Pop


White and ivory are colors that make a frequent appearance in natural decor. Bring a little zing to a display of shells, coral, and starfish with a colorful backdrop. Paint the back of a cabinet an eye-catching hue to make white objects pop.

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Antler Antics


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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Natural Motifs


While natural objects on display certainly exemplify natural decor, there's something to be said for the motif. If branches and shells aren't your thing, but you want to bring a little nature into your home, opt for representations of flora and fauna on fabrics, artwork, and pillows. Abstract interpretations, such as the ones on these silk watercolor pillows, bring a layer of sophistication.

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Inspired by Nature


For a woodsy approach, try faux bois. This wood-grainlike pattern is versatile and looks fantastic on everything from walls to upholstery to accessories.

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Artistic Rendering


In a room filled with neutrals and earthy greens, use artwork to continue the theme. Look for botanicals or Audubon-style prints that match the colors in your room.

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Tucked In

rustic hutch with storage

Go all out with the nature theme and place natural finds in places where function is normally 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

living room

Nature offers almost endless inspiration for home decorating. From the oversize bird-feather prints to the conch shell and the woven area rug, this room gives off an undeniable beachhouse sensation. 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 organize 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 twisting, tangled branch on the wall. Try manzanita branches, which are characterized by their forked, spindly tines.

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Great Greenery

Leaves in vases

For your next centerpiece or tabletop display, try this: Gather an assortment of cylindrical vases in various sizes, along with large leaves in a variety of textures and color striations. Put a bit of water in the vases and tuck the leaves inside for a natural display with a modern twist.

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Colorful Shine

Console table, branches

Nature offers beauty in the most unexpected places -- in this case, rocks. Oversized cut agates add texture and depth to a vignette or bookshelf display. Pairing these elegant natural finds with a thick, twisted tree branch and vase filled with freshly cut, winding twigs adds another dimension of natural appeal and texture.

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Rustic Simplicity

Dining room, dining table, table

Branches and shells aren't the only way to get a natural look—instead, try elements that evoke the essence of the aesthetic. Here, rustic character does the trick. Hewn wood ceiling beams are accented by a weathered wood farm table and aged cabinets. Textures, including wicker, and sun-bleached finishes help to continue the plucked-from-outdoors feel.

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Natural Retreat

Natural Retreat

Even in the most 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 that looks like a tree stump provides a splash of nature 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

Dining room, dining table, table

An ensemble of small houseplants adds the perfect amount of natural character to any space, even in this urban dining room. Placed in three pots in different sizes, 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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Gardening Know-How

Plants, vases

A collection of small glass terrariums and vases provides the perfect way 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's found in the same environments: Pair moss orbs with shells, coral with cacti, and river rocks with palm fronds. Here, a large shell 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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Nature's Bounty

Living room, fireplace

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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Cottage-Style Beauty

Cottage-Style Beauty

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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Found Beauty

Found Beauty

Focus on 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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Subtle Botanicals

Subtle Botanicals

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

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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Picture Perfect


Framed 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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Aquatic Accents

Aquatic Accents

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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Color Connection

Orange accent table

For a transitional look with a bit of edge, pair bold, bright colors with natural finds. This driftwood candleholder is an organic antidote to the sleek, lacquered orange table. If your 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

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

Found Objects as Favorite Things

Beach style is all about having a free spirit. A marble fireplace surround with a honed-driftwood mantel creates an interesting contrast between refined and natural elements. Distressed wood oars take on a sculptural role when propped against a wall.

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More Ways to Get the Natural Look

basket made from wood pieces

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.

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