Go Green Indoors

By: Meena Valliapan

In the chaotic humdrum of our daily lives, we tend to forget the simple pleasures, such as how invigorating a breath of fresh air can be, and the contentment that seeps into your soul when you spend a few stolen moments enjoying the unspoiled splendor of Mother Nature. In this modernized world, we are amidst the latest in cutting-edge technology, surrounded by sleek machines that we can no longer live without. And yet, it is not these man made wonders that have the power of converting your private abode into a relaxing retreat, where you can unwind in solitude.

Indoor landscaping, though widely seen in commercial buildings and hotels, is a relatively novel idea for homes. Homes, that are built and decorated in communion with nature, stand a world apart in this contemporary age – allowing the grandeur of the outdoors to flow indoors. They can enliven your life, completely transforming the ambience of your home into your very own private sanctuary.

Make your home a relaxing retreat for you to unwind in peace. If you’re planning to build your dream home, be sure to create space for greenery to blend in naturally with your living spaces. You could design rooms around a central courtyard, or perhaps allow for a small water body. If you are trying to bring greenery into your interiors, the plethora of options in which you can do so are endless – you can integrate indoor plants into your décor and create interesting compositions that promise to breathe life into the brick and cement.

Harmoniously Entwined Spaces

According to Chinese philosophy, yin and yang are two opposing, yet complementary forces that work together to form a unique stability. Nature in your home follows the same principle, with spaces flowing sinuously into one another, harmoniously entwined into the décor to provide a peaceful living space.

Embracing nature as a way of living is a notion that has been strongly followed in the history of ancient Indian architecture. The Mughal period was one such very celebrated period of Indian buildings and landscaping, particularly the “charbagh” (four garden) concept that emphasized the importance of gardens and detailing. The presence of courtyards within homes has been evident from the days of one of the first ancient Indian civilizations – the Indus Valley civilization. These courtyards were a very fundamental part of homes, open to the sky and a prime example of climate responsive architecture. Water bodies have also been an integral part of Indian architecture for centuries. Water tanks were a vital part of South Indian temples and even the worldrenowned Taj Mahal is well-known for its water-body-centric design.

Creating a truly green home begins from the planning stage itself, and it goes far beyond having a potted plant in the corner of your room. The number of ways in which you can incorporate the exquisiteness of nature into your home is infinite. However, if you are going to have a potted plant in the corner of the room, then make sure that you know how to look after it and what to do if a plant disease creeps in and ruins your perfectly calm living area.

Gift of Green

Even if you are only redecorating your home, you can still make way for greenery and use plants effectively to highlight and accentuate the various attractive facets of your home. They add color, and can dramatically transform a drab house into a lively one. Choosing the right places to keep your plants ensures that they blend into your house. Make use of well-planned floral arrangements and plant compositions to add a sense of depth and variety to your home. Asymmetrical arrangements between different varieties work best with flora, though you should try to maintain a common thread linking them together. Proportion is important – small plants will be lost if grouped with large, overpowering ones. Try to mix plants that are similar in size, but varying in color and texture. Flower arrangements can follow many different shapes – they could be arranged in a vertical-centric style, in a circular pattern, in the shape of a fan, or in any other style that you can think of – as long as they follow the principle of rhythm, balance and proportion. Focus on achieving an intriguing look that is not too cluttered.

When positioning your plants, allow your imagination to run wild. If you dream of waking up every morning to lush greenery beckoning from the balcony – go ahead and make that a reality. You may want to create a personal reading nook with a wicker chair in a corner, surrounded by plants. Broad windows and ledges also make attractive places for plants and flowers to thrive.

Fit chrysanthemums in unexpected corners and fill plants in otherwise dead spaces, like your stairwell. Stair railings are also popular places to display plants. You can choose a singularly unique plant, like a bonsai, to be the centerpiece of your dining table. Or create a miniature tropical garden, centering on your bonsai. Add emphasis to your fresh flower bouquet by placing it in direct vision of a mirror, to give it an illusion of greater importance. Weeping figs are popular additions to living rooms, and herbs can be conveniently grown on your kitchen windowsill. Green foliage in your bathroom can make it a more welcoming spot. Focal point plants like bamboo, palm and areca can be used to call attention to any area.

Whimsical Waterways

Water bodies have the ability to make the most dramatic impact in your home, by creating a soothing environment with an aura of mystery and sophistication. In large, open spaces of your home, you can incorporate water bodies into your flooring, breaking up large expanses of solid with pockets of water. You may not have the space for an indoor pool, but even a 6’ diameter shallow body of water with floating water lilies and candles can be an arresting addition. Try being innovative – wrap a water body along the entry porch of your home and cross the threshold through an ornamental bridge. Another way in which you can work wonders with water is through aquariums – work them into your walls, let them be freestanding marvels, or even create a shallow water tank for them in your flooring. You can also create a water body that flows into a small waterfall in the living area, which could become a relaxing corner for guests. Water curtains (indoors) generate a dramatic visual response and have the advantage of surprising the viewer.

Space need not be a constraint for using water indoors. Water used in smaller proportions can have a striking effect on your interiors as well. Simple arrangements like a china bowl or a bronze urn filled with water and floating flowers can enliven an entryway. A simple glass bowl can serve as a home for a few goldfish, without the maintenance required for an aquarium. A birdbath can be an interesting addition to your patio. Water fountains and floor aquariums can be used to relieve awkward corners or become main attractions in your living room.

Beauty in Solidity

Water and plants are not the only ways of indoor landscaping. Beauty can be found in the most unexpected areas – rock gardens are not only eye-catching additions to any home, they are also simple to maintain. The first step in creating one for your home would be to ascertain an ideal container that can comfortably hold your rock garden. Decide on the best place to display it – on the floor, on a tabletop, or a windowsill. Choose rocks that are each singularly unique in terms of shape, texture or color, and yet can be placed in harmony with one another. Then place the rocks in various positions and create a composition that is both asymmetrical and natural. If you want to design a Japanese rock garden, you would need to create a base of raked white sand to represent the ocean, as in the famous rock garden of Japan, Ryoan-ji. Dried flowers, artificial moss, weathered wood and rock bridges can relieve monotony and add to the beauty of your rock garden.

Use plants like bamboo and cactus for a touch of dry greenery. A well thought out lighting system can add the final finishing touch to your indoor rock garden.

Nature Lover’s Paradise

Homes that are designed in communion with nature blur the boundaries between indoors and outdoors, to a point where the limits merge. Transition spaces such as the entry porch, outdoor deck and the backyard patio are key areas that help reinforce this concept. When designing your outdoor living space, ensure that anything you use should be able to survive the weather conditions. Use furniture that complements your landscape, like cane, metal, and rough wooden pieces. Break away from the monotony of your flooring and make way for a flowerbed. Or use an alternative of stone interspersed with tufts of grass. Vines can be used to demarcate various areas. Generate an overhead interest with hanging baskets overflowing with flowering plants.

Focus on the entry wall creating a screen covered with small potted plants, held in place through round, metal brackets. Plants and flowers can even adorn wall niches along your access way. Complement your transition décor with accessories like wind chimes, ceramic wall patterns, wrought iron décor and bells. Tall plants like bamboo can be utilized in rows to create boundaries, replacing the role of fences.

Décor Tips for Your Indoor Landscaping

Ornamental pots and trays can add to the beauty of your plants. Terracotta and oriental glazed earthenware are popular choices for flowerpots. Cachepots are innovative options to break away from the regular trend, as you do not have the hassle of re-potting, and can easily hide the ugly, plastic pot within a more attractive outer pot or basket.

Decorate your water body to realize its maximum potential. Flowers, pebbles, wooden logs, aquatic plants, colored stones, shells and floating candles can also be used along with water to create stunning, scenic visual displays. In shallow, still water bodies, flooring becomes vital, as it is clearly visible. Glass mosaic tiles are available in a wide array of colors, shades and patterns, and are ideal options. To completely change the appearance of your water, color dyes are available in a multitude of shades and can create a dynamic impact.

Adding lighting for your plants and water bodies is a very rewarding task and one that is well worth the effort. Certain plants require supplemental lighting to flourish indoors, and this is something you can verify before purchasing the plant. High-pressure lighting is especially available for this purpose, although in most cases the more common fluorescent lights can suffice. Lighting can also be used to highlight parts of a plant, with the combination of shadow and light against walls and ceilings creating stunning visual effects. Use lights along with your water body as well – colored lights can add a whole new dimension to its appearance, especially at night.

The Healing Touch

Both Vaastu Shastra and Feng Shui strongly support the use of plants and water in your interiors, considering it to be a sign of good health and happiness. A green home is more than just aesthetically appealing – the air is fresher and plants provide relief for the eyes, leaving you calmer and more relaxed. The psychological difference that plants can make to your well-being has been well documented. Artificial plants, although they are now so well made that the difference is hard to tell, still lack the health benefits of the real thing. The sound of flowing water has the power to calm and soothe tensed nerves. Water bodies can also efficiently reduce the microclimate of its immediate surroundings, leaving you cooler and relaxed. Using water, any dead space in your home can effectively be re-energized into an area of positive energy flow.

Do remember to nurture your indoor environment – maintenance is as important as the usage itself. Plants need to be regularly watered, adequately lit, treated to the right amount of fertilizers and extended good care for prevention of household pests. Flowing water bodies require additional care and regular maintenance to ensure that the pump systems are working well, whereas still water bodies are considerably easier and less time consuming. Regular cleaning, recycling and change of water are essential to ensure that the water body retains its freshness and your home environment is filled with positive energy. Undoubtedly, these processes do require some time and energy, but it is one investment that proves to be well worth the effort.

Interior landscaping is a richly rewarding task and one that is no doubt sure to change the way you live. They are exceptional decorating tools that have a soothing presence. Greenery possesses the ability to soften the sharp corners and rigid lines of your home, making your home more welcoming and allowing you to unwind in comfort and style. Introducing the green theme into your home will certainly prove that artistic and utilitarian values can certainly go hand in hand. And that truly is beauty with a purpose!

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