By Katherine Medlin

One of the biggest drawbacks of apartment living can be the lack of an outdoor space, especially for nature lovers. Don’t have a nice balcony or patio? That doesn’t mean you can’t let nature in, making your apartment a more natural, eco-friendly spot. With a few creative decor tips, you can create a garden sanctuary inside your own apartment.

Identify Your Happy Place

Start by asking yourself what you love about gardens, nature and being outdoors. Chances are it has to do with feelings of freedom, adventure and connection. Or you might simply love being surrounded by lush living things, and appreciate nature’s awe-inspiring beauty. To truly bring the outdoors in, you have to connect your apartment decor with these sensations.

Incorporate Natural Materials

Bring the outdoors inside — literally — by using organic materials in your furnishings. For rugs, pillows, upholstery and curtains, choose natural fibers like linen, jute, muslin and wool. For furniture, choose wicker, rattan, bamboo and rustic wood surfaces, with the grain and natural color of the wood showing through.

Not only will these natural materials give you the look you want, but they will also contribute to the tactile feel of the space, giving you more rustic textures. Surrounding yourself with these natural materials is a subtle decor choice, but when combined throughout your apartment, they will ground your decor and help establish that garden feel. As a major bonus, many of these products are eco-friendly!

Material like wicker brings reminders of the outdoor world to your home. Photo: Shutterstock

Decorate with Green and Botanical Motifs

Green is a vibrant color we associate with Mother Nature, life and abundance. It calls to mind lush vegetation and warm, sunny weather, so using it in your apartment decor is the perfect way to make your space have a natural feel. Green is a versatile color that pairs well with a variety of other colors — just look to nature for inspiration. (Nearly any shade can work — do you prefer emerald, lime or sage?) You can even incorporate leafy or floral prints as decorative accents to include a more overt nod to nature.

If your style is more modern and minimalist, try accents of green with a neutral color palette of white, beige and black. Small, bright pops of the color will go a long way toward giving you that garden feeling. If your style is more romantic and bohemian, pair green with warm tones like yellow and pink for a bold statement.

Let Art Take You Away

The right art in your apartment decor is a powerful statement. Just one well-chosen piece on a focal wall can transform your space, connecting you to nature. Choose a painting, photograph or print of a beautiful landscape, plant or animal you love. The most important thing about the artwork you choose is its ability to transport you.

Art comes at all price points: Use what your budget allows. Shop local galleries, artist co-ops, decor-oriented big-box stores or the web. You can also shoot your own pic of a favorite spot. Make sure you photograph the image in a high resolution so you can enlarge and print it. Frame your photo and voilà — an immediate escape to nature every time you gaze at it.

Create a Hanging Garden

Of course, plants are an easy and important way to bring the outdoors in. Houseplants are wonderful for purifying the air while adding a touch of bright, living greenery to your space. Choose those that do well indoors, such as spider plants, aloe, succulents, fiddle-leaf figs or cacti. Then get creative with how you showcase these lovely plants so that they stand out and play a significant role in your apartment decor.

One popular trend with designers is to create a hanging garden. Instead of a fabric curtain across your main apartment window, try hanging lightweight plants from a curtain rod. Be sure you choose a rod that can support some weight and install it with drywall anchors. For your plant choices, try hanging glass terrariums filled with succulents or air plants. You could also go with a boho-chic look, using macramé hanging pot holders filled with trailing vines. If a hanging plant curtain scares you, try a farmhouse-style Fixer Upper look by hanging potted herbs on a kitchen wall.

Make plants a focal point in your home by adding a hanging garden. Photo: Shutterstock

Shed a Little Light (and Sound)

The simplest way to invite nature into your apartment is to let in the light. Choose light and airy window treatments that allow for as much natural light as possible, and open the windows when possible to let in the fresh air (and any sounds of nature, such as neighborhood birds or flowing water). Don’t have water nearby? Try a tabletop fountain to mimic the calming sounds of nature.

With these tips, you’re on your way to creating a garden sanctuary inside your own apartment. Even with the lack of an outdoor space, you’ll no longer feel disconnected from nature. Instead, you’ll be surrounded by it, right in your own home.

Feature photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Knoxville-based Katherine Medlin is an art historian with a keen interest in interior design and antiques. She writes for and the Southern lifestyle blog Pender & Peony.

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