As modern life gets noisier and faster, creating tranquil interiors using the beauty of the natural world provides something of an escape.
That’s the decorating philosophy of Paris-based stylist, photographer and art director Hans Blomquist.
“Nature adds imperfection, in a way. I think homes without any elements of nature look too stark and perfect,” he explained. “When you add nature, it makes an interior more personal, as well as adding a layer of texture.”
Mr Blomquist’s love affair with nature started when he grew up near a forest in southern Sweden.
“It was like the largest playground, ever. I was always looking for interesting things, collecting branches and stones, picking flowers and looking at birds,” he recalled.
The extreme difference in the seasons in Sweden also helped forge his connection to nature.
“I found every season inspirational because you get so many ideas from the varying colours and the way nature acts differently throughout the year,” he said.
Mr Blomquist’s latest interiors book is Inspired by Nature: Creating a Personal & Natural Interior. It explores how the seasons can influence an interior and looks at how to create evocative interiors using the bounty of the natural world.
Here, Mr Blomquist shares six of his ideas.
1. Palm-leaf sculpture
Mr Blomquist suggests creating a sculptural piece for a living area by leaning a large, dried palm leaf against a wall.
“Palm trees are my favourite thing in life. I love the size, the texture and the way the dried leaves look,” he said. “They are so sculptural that an oversized leaf leaned against a wall makes a big statement piece.”
For even more of an impact, consider painting the palm leaf, drawing inspiration from the palm leaf in the book. The leaf is painted in Drift lime paint, one of nine colours Mr Blomquist created for WA-based lime-paint company Bauwerk Colour.
2. Single stems
You don’t need armfuls of flowers or foliage to create an impact in your home – sometimes, just a handful or even a single stem allows you to appreciate the intricate beauty of nature, Mr Blomquist advised.
“I’m one of those people who picks up a flower from the gutter and brings it home to display,” he said.
He’s also not a fan of having flowers in his home during winter, preferring to enjoy them when they are naturally in season.
“For natural displays in winter, I use dried branches and pieces of greenery that have a slightly greyish tone which echo the nature surrounding us during the darker months,” he said.
He suggested creating impact by using a single pine branch bearing pine cones in a glass vase.
3. Grass dreamcatcher
For a textural wall decoration, Mr Blomquist suggested tying some dried summer grasses on to a wooden stick suspended on a linen string.
“The idea for this came from dreamcatchers. I love dried grasses, so I made a more natural dreamcatcher,” he explained.
4. Pressed-flower artworks
Another way to create a striking wall decoration is to put pressed flowers in glass clip frames and display them in a grid formation.
“It creates a very natural but eye-catching piece. I also like that using simple clip frames means there are no frames detracting from the plant itself,” Mr Blomquist said.
And, as the flowers dry out and the paper discolours, the display will become even more textured.
5. Dried foliage
Mr Blomquist is a fan of displaying dried branches and flowers in a home to add texture, shape and colour.
“The display will be unique to you because there are no branches or flowers that will be exactly the same as the ones you have gathered,” he said.
And because you aren’t limited to using a vase or other container that holds water, you can be as creative as you like.
“I love using woven baskets, which themselves add another layer of texture to the home and work in both contemporary and traditional interiors,” Mr Blomquist said.
6. Coloured backdrop
Consider painting walls in dark blues, greens and greys to make your natural pieces stand out.
“I love using darker, moodier wall colours as they make nature pop in a softer way than if you put them against a white, stark wall,” Mr Blomquist explained.