Home interior design ideas inspired by nature

Tuesday 28 July 2015  |  Posted by: Rod Hanna

Interior design has universal elements, no matter where in the world you may be. In New Zealand we are somewhat geographically isolated, and with that isolation comes a strong focus and inspiration from nature and rightfully so, there is no better example of beauty, harmony and balance than that which is found in nature.

We have come up with a selection of quick tips and guidance on what inspires and what should be considered when designing your interior this side of the Tasman.

Look to nature and seasonal change for colour palette references

Take some colour palette inspiration from the four seasons - spring, summer, autumn and winter.

New Zealand summers consist of bright blue skies, vibrant green grass and trees and the yellow rays of full summer sun. Autumn brings in change and if we look only at leaf fall, we see it includes radiant oranges, reds, yellows, and greens: simply look further and more deeply afield for extra inspiration.

Bedroom accessories

Winter is more than just grey. It is stark, harsh and contrasting - think of bleak cold days, warmed by a cloudless sky and all day sun. The contrast of black and white provides an elegant combination for a kitchen or bathroom. Alternatively brighter and warmer tones provide solace for the winter climate.

Hues and tones give us varying degrees of colour

Tonal colour is dramatic and no where is it done better than in nature. If you look at the tonal variations in a leaf you will see light around the edges that gradually darkens towards the centre. Apply this palette extension in your home through direct tonal variations or hombre style applications.

A mix of textures is as important as a mix of tones

Rough boulders, smooth pebbles, rigid bark and sleek grass. Incorporate similar contrasts and textures in your own home; a rough wooden table in the kitchen with a sleek marble serving platter or elegant candle holders, slate floor entrance, soft cushions and throws.

Offset the harsh with the soft and never have too much of one and not enough of the other. If in doubt reference Mother Nature, she gets it right every time.

dining room

Take the way things 'make you feel' into consideration

Interior design is more than having a strong sense of style; the way we place furniture and therefore structure our everyday living affects how we feel. It's in part the concepts of balance and symmetry that make interior design, here in New Zealand, a strong part of a successful interior plan.

Symmetry for example, with straight, clean lines keeps design simple. While our eyes take in separate pieces of information, our brains sum it up into simpler more understandable patterns, so we take in a room in its entirety then we focus on the individual design elements within.

Balance and symmetry means our brains have less to process and repeated patterns allow us to process the individual elements faster. Because we easily understand symmetrical spaces, we often think of them as more aesthetically pleasing.

day bed

So try incorporating patterns: two bedside tables with two bedside lamps, three evenly spaced kitchen stools or facing couches with a centred coffee table. Whatever it may be, your brain will love and thank you for the symmetry.

This is where the services of an interior designer can really add value to your overall theme and help you to select furnishings that have a scale and proportion that complements your interior. A mistake that often occurs is the selection of furnishings that are too large or too small for your space, compromising the balance of your interior.

Why not shake it up - asymmetry keeps things interesting

Too much of anything, even if it is good can be a bad thing. Asymmetrical balance can give depth and visual interest to your room, when incorporated with existing symmetrical patterns. The overall affect delivers a more relaxed and authentic feel that is perfect for seeking that homely feel we Kiwis love.

Choose elements that are placed equally distant from the room's centre point and place the objects where you think they should be and then take a step back to view the room as a whole. You'll instantly get a sense for the flow of the space and be able to tweak your asymmetrical element so it shines.

Keep in mind that asymmetry can be big or small. Pivot a chair to add an intimate touch or creatively arrange a couple of coffee table or bookshelf ornaments.

painting of womans face

Find your comfort zone

In an ideal world, you would never have to choose between comfort and style. Unfortunately for us that is not always the case, so choose comfort where you need it most. Make comfort a priority for big functional items like furniture for lounging.

There are wonderful New Zealand companies like Designers' Collection that make their own furniture designs to order enabling them to tailor cushioning to your own personal preference.

scanlan table

The choice and placement of furniture and the way a room "feels" is often just as important as how it looks and successful New Zealand interior design is all about the balance of comfort and style.

Engage professional advice

A large part of an interior designer's job is to make spaces functional, safe, and beautiful. They not only work with fabrics and paints but they must also determine space requirements, layouts, read blueprints and be building code and regulation knowledgeable. If you are designing a new-build or looking to refurbish and design an existing room an interior designer's skill and expertise in these areas becomes invaluable.

wall of birds

Designers will work with your budget. If you want help with a whole house, one room, or simply selecting a wall colour, most are willing to offer advice and support for any project. You just have to pick up the phone and start the conversation, ask them if they are willing to take on a small, budget-friendly job. It may end up being the best thing you ever did.

Featured Designers

Lou Brown Design

Hayley-Anne Brown, Auckland