We’re in a wonderful moment in time right now in which nature is one of the hottest trends in home design and decor. Driftwood art adorns living room mantles, potted plants become sun-filtering window canopies, and the bathroom is a sanctum for green cleaning supplies. It’s part DIY, part conservation, and part appreciation for the beauty of the natural world.
That being said, the stunning beauty of nature need not be left to the interior designers. We’re in the age of integrating sustainability into our homes — which encompasses both building green and educating homeowners. Even luxury home builders are taking part in the sustainability game. For those of us whose homes are already built, here are some of the ways that remodelers are incorporating the elements of nature into the most practical aspects of their homes.
Having an “earthy” home can mean a whole lot of different things — from the traditional Norwegian sense of the word, to a home that’s in need of some weather-proofing and good old TLC. But earth is more than dirt and rustic charm. Even homeowners who want a chic, modern remodel find that a little earthiness is for the best.
The most striking way that homeowners bring a bit of earth into the house is by introducing a slab of granite into the kitchen decor. Granite countertops composed of stones with nicknames like “Riverbed” and “Alaska White” have some of the most mesmerizing patterns, almost like you’re standing on a mountain looking over a wilderness landscape.
Usually we try to avoid having water in the home. There’s nothing environmentally beautiful about busted pipes or a leaky roof, right? But the nature lovers of the world have found that while water is not a great element for indoors, outdoor water features can bring a delightful wildness to the home. Ponds, waterfalls, and small creeks running through the backyard are some of the most desirable features that homeowners add to their yards.
Whether man-made or natural, water features generally require a certain watchfulness on the part of the homeowner. Aquatic ecosystems are delicate. As anyone who has a pond knows, even though green is glorious, too much green in a water feature is not a good thing. Excessive algae growth is a sign of an unbalanced ecosystem.
There are chemicals that you can use to get rid of algae, but aquatic expert Scott Willbanks recommends using barley, aeration and beneficial bacteria to control algae growth. It will take a little more patience, but it’s a much gentler and more natural recourse.
With increased emissions regulations on newly constructed wood heaters and wood burning stoves, you might think that the fire element would be snuffed out in home remodels. Not true. The flame that’s present in today’s homes is just a bit smaller than your average wood stove fire. And it’s fueled by gas rather than wood.
The popularity of gas stoves is on the rise among cooking aficionados — 96 out of 100 professional chefs prefer gas cooktops to the traditional electric range. The gas range heats faster, is more sensitive to temperature changes, and is easier to maintain. Like any other appliance you upgrade during a remodel, the long term reliability of a gas range depends on a number of factors. It’s important to do your research before investing. Don’t want to get burned with constant maintenance fees.
Farewell single-pane window that freezes over with an impenetrable wall of ice during the cold winter months. Even in the chilliest of climates, the advent of energy-efficient glass has brought us into a new era of home remodeling. The age of the window is upon us.
Many homeowners are opting to knock out the swaths of boring sheetrock and adding large picture windows in its place. When you don’t have to worry about losing a ton of heat through the glass, why wouldn’t you add a view onto the beautiful natural world outside?
Of course, more glass does come with its considerations. It means, for one, that you’ll have to decide how best to maintain your privacy during the evening. No one wants to live in a fishbowl.
Curtains mounted on an electric or remote-controlled curtain rack are a popular way to have the option of privacy while still enjoying an unobscured cross-breeze during the day. In addition, cleaning and maintaining a large wall of windows is not a task for those who struggle with balance or have other physical challenges. Every day, nearly 2,000 people are injured while using a ladder. Before you climb up on that ladder to clean off a year’s worth of rain water stains, take a beat and make sure you’ve got everything situated safely.
The more we’re able to integrate the natural elements into our day-to-day lives, the more in tune we’ll be with the planet. When we can appreciate the beauty of a stone, steward an aquatic ecosystem, harness fire, and breathe-in fresh air from the comfort of our own dwellings, we might find ourselves becoming a little wilder, and a little more gracious, than before.
We are after all just human animals — an integral contributor to the beautiful habitat our planet provides for us. The closer in touch we are with all of nature’s elements, the better off we all are.