Think Outside the Box and Bring the Outdoors In(terior)

A better understanding of nature’s blueprint


Our ears perk up and we smile automatically when we hear the architectural buzz phrase, “Bring the Outdoors In.” If we had the tools to better understand why this concept resonates so strongly with the masses, would we direct this thinking toward creating more alluring interior environments? Do we take these words too literally, as we carry a rock inside and wonder why it fails to excite us? Does it mean we should strive to erase the barriers between the interior and exterior envelopes of the structure, designing floor to ceiling glass, filling the home with plants and echoing nature’s color schemes?

As I sit here, writing this just outside of my family’s log cabin on 64 acres of Oregon’s untouched raw natural beauty, it’s apparent that Mother Nature is one of the greatest colorists, designers, and architects of all time. If we could grasp her fundamental beauty secrets, as opposed to viewing them through the interior glass, could we create our interiors as if she were our personal designer? We are going to start you on the path to thinking “outside the box” and accessing her beauty in a way you may have not considered before!

Depth of Color

Most of us have a story or experience where we saw the perfect color in nature that captured our interest, and we tried to bring it indoors. Perhaps it was that unusually bright nectarine swaying on a branch 100 yards away, or it’s our memory of the ocean, or a random object such as a pomegranate you tried to recreate in paint, but it missed the mark. Do you rack it up to thinking that, if you had a more talented eye, you would have better success with the paint fans?

When we try to recreate nature’s tones into a paint, it’s as if we take our favorite piece of nature, drop it in the blender, hit puree, roll it on our walls, and call it a good day! But before your favorite nature souvenir was blended, it was filled with a magnificent world full of illusive textures and tones including tans, blacks, blues, greys, champagne, and ruby, which you now find are drying monochromatically.

When creating your interiors, strive to use natural materials and textures to truly bring the outdoors in. An alternate to store mixed paints is adding pigments to your final drywall topping compound and finishing with a clear sealer. You will see nature’s tones recreate themselves on your project. Or, if you need to use paint, start off with an affordable, natural underlayment material such as woven grass cloth, and recreate your own outside texture spaces indoors!

Nature Isn’t Shiny, it’s Reflective

With the goal of trying to recreate inside what many are attracted to outside, take a walk, and you will notice that nature’s best polishes are softly reflecting the sun’s light.

Necessary manufacturing techniques can cause a richly grained stone slab to be sliced in a way that erases all of nature’s texture and depth. While we have unavoidable manufacturing fundamentals to accommodate, even with natural materials, try ordering your stone counters with a post-texture such as a‘brushed’ or ‘hammered’ finish that recreates how it originally stood. Also, you have to hand it to Mother Nature; she knew how to create a smudge proof environment! Trade texture for polish and watch an instant classic create itself on your future projects!

Layout Secrets Unveiled

The greatest designers and layout artists, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, are skilled illusionists. They magically create spaces or objects, making them feel familiar yet equally unique. They understand nature is grounded and spaces need to be anchored as if you are planting roots in your home.

Today, we are offering one of Mr. Lloyd’s greatest architectural secrets. He would start many of his designs using a series of dots on a grid, mimicking nature’s proportions. He would then allow the randomness of thought to connect some dots, and not others. When he completed his layout over nature’s grid, creating light fixtures, furniture, precast blocks, etc., he would erase the dots not used, and hide nature’s secret while also unveiling it!

When you are creating your interiors, start with nature’s structure and ratios; add a few dashes of randomness. You don’t even have to Google her ratios! Simply walk outside, pick up a leaf, and use its structural points to help you create something that others will see as familiar yet unique.

Train with “Mother Nature’s Advanced Design and Architectural Department” today, and you and your team will be on a truly epic and successful journey creating highly desired interiors!

Scott Harris is the cofounder and COO of the Building Construction Group. He can be reached at

Leave a Reply