Invite the Outdoors In

(Family Features) Despite the comfort and convenience it affords, modern society is contributing to a vanishing relationship with the natural environment. However, there are plenty of ways to bring nature indoors to reap the benefits of an earthy connection inside your home.

According to a survey commissioned by the Velux Group, a gap is growing between the time Americans spend outdoors and the time they’d like to spend in nature.

In the United States, 63% of survey participants said they average one hour or less a week in nature, but 88% agreed they would like to spend more time. In addition, the majority of respondents said they believe nature, daylight and fresh air have a positive impact on stress levels, and most also agreed those factors have a positive impact on mental well-being.

“Exposure to nature such as trees, plants and views of open spaces has been found to improve the cognitive ability to focus and read social cues,” said Arie Greenleaf, associate professor of counseling at Seattle University. “Even ADHD symptoms in children are mitigated by views of and interactions with nature in a host of different ways. Worker productivity, how people feel about the work they do and the level of engagement, improves with a view of nature.”

Despite ample research demonstrating the benefits, the study revealed a common theme, with 85% of participants believing they spent more time in nature as children than children do today. That’s a trend that translates into adult habits, too.

“With work and family responsibilities, we can’t always fit spending time outside into our busy schedules, effectively making us the indoor generation,” said Peter Foldbjerg, head of Daylight, Energy and Indoor Climate for The Velux Group. “One thing we can do is improve how our homes connect to nature: From houseplants and nature-inspired art to skylights and screened porches, there are a wide variety of options for creating nature connections in the place we spend most of our time – our homes.”

Learn how to bring more nature into your home with these decorating and design ideas:

Houseplants

Living plants not only add a touch of the outdoors, but they also help clean the air inside your home. In smaller spaces, even a few pots of herbs can add a refreshing touch of nature.

Sunshine and fresh air

Whether it’s from windows or skylights, bringing natural light and fresh air inside can keep your space fresh and inviting. There are scientifically proven correlations between natural light exposure and mood, as well as your body’s ability to maintain its circadian rhythm. Refreshing the air in your home can help eliminate volatile organic compounds, pet dander and microparticles from cooking and cleaning.

If your home is lacking in natural light, a skylight may be easier to add than a window, and skylights bring in twice as much light as vertical windows; their angle allows more of the sun’s rays to reach farther into the room. Some skylights, including many offered by Velux, also offer venting options that can contribute to cleaner air.

Botanically inspired patterns

Look to pillows, area rugs and wallpaper to incorporate patterns inspired by flowers, foliage or landscapes outside. These decorative elements can boost spirits and create a welcoming environment indoors by reflecting the outdoor world.

Natural materials

Sisal rugs and baskets, wood planking and stone countertops or side tables can add texture and a touch of the natural world to your interiors.

Find more ideas for integrating the outdoors into your home design at whyskylights.com/outside-in.

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