If you’re lacking inspiration picking an interior style for your living room, the natural living room look is a beautiful option that can really lift this part of the home. Bringing warmth and calming energy to a communal space that can often be lively and busy, embracing the great outdoors in your interiors is a clever and easy way to create a serene space.
‘Today in our tech-infused world, nature is the easiest entry point to stillness and relaxation,’ says interior designer, Lisa Kahn. ‘Time indoor is precious, it is when we can shed the pressures of the outside world and are able to exhale and reconnect in the quiet of our home.’ If you’re wanting to allude to the great outdoors in your interior style, take inspiration from these 10 living room ideas.
Oonagh is an experiences homes and interiors writer and editor. She has written extensively on the latest trends and interviewed industry experts to help bring the latest ideas to her readers. For this piece, Oonagh reached out to her interior design contacts to find out how they infuse nature into their designs.
Natural living room ideas that embrace the power of the great outdoors
‘Biophilic design has a timeless appeal as we look to ways of embracing the beauty of the natural world inside our homes,’ explains Philippe Desart, managing director at Arte, and harnessing the power of nature in interiors can take many shapes.
It can be a mere suggestion of nature through a soothing color palette, it might take the form of gentle decorative touches, or manifest through the materials you use, from natural woolen fabrics for upholstering to oak wood flooring. However you want to allude to the natural world, we’ve collated some great living rooms ideas to help inspire.
1. Bring the outdoors in with a planted indoor tree
If you’re going to do one thing to bring a decorative natural element to your living room, it’s the simple addition of an indoor tree. A tree or plant in a beautiful statement pot can go a long way to bring some much needed greenery, giving a botanical freshness to even the most urban of spaces. ‘Bringing greenery into any home adds a layer of nature and beauty and a way to exhale,’ says Brigette Romanek, the principal designer of Romanek Design Studio (opens in new tab), who added a touch of nature in the form of this black olive tree in her living room.
An indoor tree isn’t just about buying the first potted plant or greenery you see though, think of the leaves as a piece of art in themselves, and how the shape and color works to complement the rest of the room. In this example, the simplicity of the tree works with the surrounding living room scheme. ‘The small leaves and branches, the delicateness. I find it dreamy as it’s sparse in a great way and doesn’t take over the room,’ says Brigette.
You also have to learn about the tree’s needs – the light it needs, the planter size to ensure it will grow properly in this space. Keep in mind the sunlight, height, and watering needs.
A tree also works in a structural way much like a piece of art too, with tall branches stretching up and guiding your eye up to the ceiling, so as well as bringing a touch of nature, it works as a neat design trick. ‘From a design point of view, it’s a stunning piece,’ says Brigette.
2. Embrace the log fire look
More and more, we’re looking to heat our homes with differing sources of energy, and a log fire is a great heat source that can really permeate through a living room. It gives a living room a beautiful focal point, and celebrates the natural elements with flickering flames perfect for a cozy winter’s evening. It’s the perfect living room addition that is both decorative and functional.
This Indie & Co designed home in Brixton embraces the log fire and allows it to inform the rest of the scheme, with the firewood storage artfully one to side of the chimney breast, ready for use but also giving a feeling of being among nature, and certainly far away from the busy streets of Brixton.
‘In this living room we wanted to harness the power of Hygge,’ explains Celine Erlam of Indie & Co. ‘The Scandinavian decor style fosters the feeling of comfort and wellbeing. We created a space to get cozy around the fire on a rainy day with a hot chocolate.
‘Bringing natural elements such as the wood logs and kindling reconnects us with nature and keeps us reminded of the ever-changing seasons,’ adds Celine.
3. Consider a soothing nature-inspired palette
Living room color ideas are also crucial when looking to nature to inspire your living room design. Color is such a simple change you can make that can really help bring the calming qualities of nature with a lick of paint or color accent.
Think neutral color schemes, browns in all its shades that remind us of wood and bark for a warmer scheme, and muted shades of blue and green that bring coziness and remind us of sea, sky and countryside. But it doesn’t need to be this literal either, explains designer, Lisa Kahn (opens in new tab).
‘Colors needn’t always be only shades of blue like the sky or green like the grass; instead, we must borrow the muted tones of all of nature to soothe our eyes and create a cozy, warm and inviting feel.
‘Natural whites, warm taupes, and shades of what appear outside our front doors is what creates a natural connection to come together. In this living room design, we have selected non-competing tones of muted whites and creams – warmly lit – to allow the colors of the outside world to join in the home as an invited guest.’
Different shades of greens are also an obvious choice when picking a nature-inspired color for your living room, and green in every shade can help exude that sense of nature’s positivity and serenity. Forest greens and dark green shades can be more vibrant, while trending sage and mints are quietly positive and soft. ‘Green has become such a popular color because people are wanting to add life to their spaces and bring nature in,’ explains Sue Wadden, color marketer at Sherwin-Williams (opens in new tab). ‘We went from seeing bolder colors trending the past couple of years to seeing warmer, nature-inspired hues. A grounding olive green creates an earthy vibe. From a color psychology standpoint, green is the color of nature, revitalization and growth,’ she adds.
7. Ditch curtains for wooden shutters
Where possible, opt for wooden architectural features to reference the great outdoors and bring the warmth of nature to the space. Here, in this Hackney home, designed by YARD Architects (opens in new tab), the idea of living room curtains has been ditched in favor of hardwood shutters made from pine. While the texture and material of curtains can add softness to the space, this clever window treatment uses wood that has been treated beautifully so you can see the grain and help to frame the view beyond the Victorian sash windows.
‘They are really useful as they can be used for privacy without entirely blocking the light from the window as they are in two sections, which is great in living rooms,’ says Simon Graham of YARD.
The double doors that further join the two halves of the Victorian living room together are also made from the same pine, bringing a cohesiveness to the space. While the wooden texture is hard, this is countered by the softness of the high pile rug, the sage green sofa and the slouchy leather chair.
5. Try exposed stone on a statement wall
Expose brickwork or a natural stone feature wall can also help bring this sense of nature to your living room, and add an interesting focal point or statement wall, setting the tone for the living room furniture to follow. While exposed brickwork is often a pillar of industrial interior design, larger bricks or rustic-looking stone can feel cozy and allude to a modern farmhouse, countryside aesthetic, without being too twee. In this example, stone was used that was native to the region, also giving a strong sense of place and geographical identity.
‘This natural living room look brings ease and a sense of peace to the home,’ explains designer, Shoshanna Shapiro (opens in new tab). ‘The home used to have a red brick surround that did not go all the way to the ceiling. The homeowner wanted a more rustic living room and so we removed the brickwork and added stone all the way to the ceiling. Stone creates an undeniable presence of nature.’
6. Make a statement with a biophilic design feature
Plants and indoor trees aren’t the only way to physically bring nature into your living room, and a living wall or moss wall feature can add texture and a touch of nature to the space, as exhibited here in this living room from Megan Pisano Design (opens in new tab). Moss is very versatile and can be created into any shape or form, so you can really have artistic creative control over what shape your moss wall takes.
In terms of maintenance, a moss wall is far easier to look after than you might initially think. A preserved moss wall is maintenance-free, made from real moss that has been treated with a natural emulsion to keep its quality and verdant look for years without water. Keep it fresh with a little bit of water mist if the humidity drops. Also make sure the moss wall avoids direct sunlight or it could brown or dry out.
‘We really wanted to have a coastal – nature inspired feel for this space. By bringing the outside in it allows for more of a peaceful, serene feel. The moss wall is a form of art and natural in one,’ says Megan.
‘Plants bring oxygen! So by having the living moss wall it allows for a stress- free lifestyle, and a healthy wellbeing.’
7. Create a room with a view
Those great bay windows looking out of your living room and onto nature have so much potential, so why not make them a focal point of your living room to really help celebrate the great outdoors.
In this design by The Stylesmiths (opens in new tab), the custom tan leather seating hugs the windowsill and sits perfectly in the alcove, making a beautiful centerpiece and a perfect spot for you to cozy up with a good read.
‘Nature, in almost every situation creates a soothing balm for the soul,’ says Kirsten Dah-Feathers and Carlie Ng of The Stylesmiths.
‘The window banquette was born out of necessity, this compact apartment was once student accommodation for our client’s son and his two university friends, we were tasked with creating something that celebrated the beautiful architecture but allowed for a practical and more sophisticated life within.’
‘As with any compact space it is so important to allow the eye to continue further than the four walls of the room you are in, making a focus of these wonderful bay windows and the views beyond helped to make our wonderful clients home to feel light and airy, defying the actual square footage!’
8. Bring natural textures to the space
Varying textures in your living room can bring a sense of coziness and warmth, and there is no better place than nature to take inspiration for the type of material you opt for. Whether it’s your living room rug, the thick woolen throws casually laid on your sofa, or the upholstered material of a statement chair, natural fibres are a great way to bring the outdoors in.
When it comes to rug material, natural wool is the ultimate. ‘Overall, a natural wool pile is the best choice for strength and durability,’ says Simon Laurenceau of Pierre Frey (opens in new tab). Wool is also supremely comfortable, as the threads spring back with softness after being walked on. It is also, to some extent, water-resistant and stain-repellent, so a good choice for a busy family home. Other natural fibre rugs include cotton or jute, while bamboo rugs last a long time in high traffic areas. Mohair is gloriously shaggy and tactile. Look to Sussy Cazalet (opens in new tab) for natural and hand-woven pieces that could work for your living room.
When it comes to fabric for your seating, boucle fabric’s popularity is proving unwavering. This rich, loop-like texture is ideal for creating a warm relaxed space, and it can be made from natural fibres like wool, cotton, linen and silk. In this space, material from nature helps to soften the space in the form of a beautiful boucle chair and creates a cozy living room.
9. Embrace wood across floors and walls
Wood flooring is hugely desirable. Not only does it possess a list of practical benefits – durability, heat retention and ease of maintenance to name a few – but wooden living room flooring with exposed grain also has an aesthetic quality that makes for an elegant living room that feels grounded in nature.
With so many appealing qualities, why reserve it just for the floor? Taking this beautiful material up onto the walls makes for a gorgeous living room, as seen in this project by Kimberley Peck Architect (opens in new tab), where walnut millwork is used in the kitchen of this SoHo loft and reclaimed wood in a similar color was used as baseboards and windowsills throughout the space. Don’t be afraid of mixing and matching either and the wood on wood look doesn’t jar because the overall space is pared back and soothing. This wood flooring is oak with a grey tinted stain.
10. Pick a wallcovering with a nature-inspired motif
Living room wallpapers with motifs that bring that spirit of nature are calming and nurturing and can offer a sense of escapism, they are brilliant for living rooms where they can create a connection to the garden and a feeling of openness. ‘There is a wonderful breadth of naturally inspired patterns within our collections to choose from, from larger scale botanical prints to smaller scale and textural patterns such as this, the Caprice wallcovering from our latest collection Tangram,’ explains Philippe Desart, managing director at Arte (opens in new tab).
Here, very finely woven grasses, each cut and inlaid by hand, create a playful, irregular abstract pattern that subtly evokes the feel of the greenery of foliage. ]The finished result not only brings aesthetic interest and detail, but also offers all the durability of a non-woven wallcovering, perfectly designed to resist the wear and tear of daily life.’
How do you make a living room neutral?
Making a living room neutral is all about the color scheme and layering. Neutral color schemes can work to create a calming mood in your interiors and are made up of beige tones, shades of white, brown, grey and black. The result of a neutral scheme is pared back and serene in the absence of primary pops of color that can often overwhelm a space.
Start with the wall paint and pick your neutral base, then build up from here, considering neutral furniture, then soft furnishings, artwork and accessories. When playing with color, turn to decorating rules for inspiration. The 60-30-10 rule is a good place to start. Pick your three complementary neutral colors and divide them up by weighting. One color might have the majority weighting in a scheme, the secondary color will have less than half, then the final color represents the 10 in this rule – and is attributed to pops and accents throughout the space. The result is cohesive and aesthetically pleasing.