This Country “Brings the Outside In” Better Than Any Other


“Bring the outdoors in” has always been a line that makes me chuckle. In design school, many of us students would often cite “I wanted to bring the outdoors in” as a concept for an interior design project. But though it’s a common saying in the design world, it’s not a meaningless cliche. Finding a way to connect to the outside when you’re stuck inside might be one of the most important things you can do for your home.

I’m fairly obsessed with the Japanese concept of forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku); it’s the idea that a walk through the woods can have physical and mental healing properties. Even sitting under a tree in your backyard or soaking up some sunshine on a patio can improve your overall well being. But since we can’t all (and may not want to) live in a forest 24/7 (and in fact many of us are stuck in fluorescent-lit offices all day), it’s important that we attempt to “bring the outdoors in” to our homes. While there’s no right or wrong way to do it, there’s one country that just seems to do it best: South Africa — Cape Town in particular.

Whether you’re a nature lover or not, every home could benefit from an infusion of nature’s benefits, any time of year. And the folks dwelling in these Cape Town homes have done a fantastic job in three specific ways:

They quite literally open up their home to the outside

A common feature I’ve noticed in Cape Town homes is a wide wall of floor-to-ceiling windows (and in some cases, doors) that look out to nature. This strong architectural feature isn’t something that everyone can implement in their home, but it is a reminder that one of the best ways to bring the outdoors in is to make sure it’s prominently on display. Unencumbered views, streak-free glass and furniture arranged so that nature is the focal point; a big window to nature is one of the best ways to bring the outdoors in.

They made what little outdoor area they have more comfortable

Another solid way to bring the outdoors in? Extend the boundaries of what your home considers “in.” By making your patio, balcony, porch or small backyard more usable and livable, you don’t have to put as much effort into bringing the outside into the rest of your home — you can enjoy nature in a comfortable spot within your home’s footprint. Making sure that that outdoor area is visible from your rooms — through a doorway or a window — is also an important tool: It’s a visual reminder that your own personal nature oasis is nearby.

They embrace drama

From unusual flower arrangements to giant leaves to plants in weird places and even an AstroTurf rug — it’s not just that the dwellers in these Cape Town homes have incorporated bits of actual nature inside their homes. It’s that they’ve done so in unique, eye-catching, attention-grabbing ways. This elevates the status of the natural elements, giving them more physical and visual importance. And this ends up blanketing your home with outdoors-in vibes.


More interior design insights from other countries:

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