ByMadeleine Somerville

Jul 24, 2015
wood coffee table

Choosing to incorporate natural materials into your home, school, or office may seem like a purely aesthetic choice, but you’ll soon find that the benefits go far beyond creating decorator worthy decor. But, before we dive into five great reasons to go au naturale let’s first define what we mean.

Although a much used (and abused) word in the environmental movement, for this piece “natural” means materials as close to their original state – stone, natural fibers, raw woods, and plants.

wood coffee table
Image courtesy of Alba García Aguado.

1. It looks good

Bringing natural materials into your immediate surroundings creates a rich and textured look that is far more engaging and inviting than one layered with colder, more artificial material like laminate, plastic, or synthetic fabrics. Using plants, natural baskets, wool or fiber rugs, and wood furniture makes a home, office, or classroom look warm and helps bring the effortless beauty of the outdoors in.

2. It’s more durable

Natural materials typically last longer and hold up better to everyday wear and tear, than their man made counterparts. Think of a worn farmhouse table that just gets better with age, its dings and scratches adding beauty to the piece. Sisal and jute rugs get softer under foot, old leather develops a rich patina. Time improves the look and luster of most natural materials, and that makes it worth having them around.

3. It might make you smarter

Research has proven time and time again that immersion in nature benefits learning processes in children – enhancing cognitive abilities, improving academic performance, reducing ADD symptoms, and even improving eyesight. It shouldn’t perhaps be surprising then, that the benefits don’t disappear when you’re not actually outdoors. It seems that you can reap some of the same benefits of being in nature simply by being near nature. One study on nature’s effects states, “Even a view of nature — green plants and vistas — helps reduce stress among highly stressed children. Further, the more plants, green views and access to natural play areas, the more positive the results.” The more pieces of nature you can incorporate into a space, the more benefits you can reap.

4. It’s healthier

Choosing natural materials almost always means a reduction in off-gassing and toxic chemical compounds being brought into your home. Although the processes involved in harvesting bamboo, polishing granite or creating hardwood for floors aren’t completely green, you do manage to side step a lot of potential health risks by going the natural route. Crib mattresses are a great example, they are required to be fire retardant and most conventional mattresses meet this requirement by using chemical treatments and toxic compounds, but choosing to buy a natural wool mattress for your babe means you can skip all of that because wool is naturally fire resistant.

Whether it’s for reasons of style or of substance, the reasons for making the switch to natural materials in your surroundings quickly stack up.

By Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.