Trends 2007: The Nurturing Naturalist

January 25, 2007

{This is a huge post, so I’ll give you time to read through it and return tomorrow with more goodies before I head out for the weekend. See you Friday!}

Another trend that rolled over into ’07 is botany obsession and a love of insects, birds, and beach finds – like shells and bird feathers or a vintage birdcage (with a plant inside if you are a pet-free home). This trend seems to appeal to those who have the eye of a natural history museum curator and a real attachment to the natural world around them. Think antiqued prints of flora and fauna, once living things lovingly preserved (starfish, cotton complete with stem), items precious and kept beneath glass domes, or framed, or resting peacefully on a table – a large clamshell to catch your keys, for instance.

To ensure the look is fresh and doesn’t appear too dusty (or dated), you’ll need to set the background with light, modern, hues and be mindful that less is more. Dark green or jewel tones will depress, as will too much black. Opt for lots of faded colors – soft blues, creamy butter yellow, soft gray, and lots of white (in its many shades). Dot some red (maybe a coral paperweight or pillow) around a faded blue room to add a modern touch and a bit of punch if you like, but don’t OD on saturated hues. Even a splash of teal will work, but use with caution… Go easy! Remember, this trend isn’t about sparkle or saturated colors, it’s faded, somewhat neutral, very focused on collections well placed, and lots of natural textures and patterns. You can go casual with it, or more traditional. Just have fun and remember, don’t take design too seriously. Decorating your home shouldn’t be stressful. If it is, you need to take some time out and refocus. Pull in a few friends with homes you love and have a “Help Me” party. Friends love to give decorating advice!

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistFurniture tips: For furniture, look for slipcovered sofas and chairs for a relaxed feel, or go for rolled arms, a high angled back, or tufted sofas for a more traditional look. For a look that is more casual, try using wooden trunks, worn walnut end tables, glass top tables with rusty legs (flea market finds), vintage suitcases stacked and topped with a lamp, tufted velvet headboards in faded prints or solids (complete with burnished-brass nail head trim). Wood with white-washed or chalk finishes, metal or rusty metals, glass, distressed leathers, anything worn or fades… Key is to mix new purchases with flea market finds. There’s nothing to it! The Grant chair and the Jasper from Room and Board work well too. The Jasper (try ordering it in Danish Linen for a more natural look) is modern and casual and the Grant is more vintage style. I tend to look for furniture with soft edges, but the Jasper still works somehow.

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistI love these pieces from Oly Studio. Yum. Isn’t that coral chair a great find? I first spotted it in Canadian House + Home and immediately added it to my look book.

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistThomaspaul linen pillows are fabulous, don’t you think? The Emmet Trunk from Pottery Barn is nice (not shown), and I like their Spencer Sofa too (especially in linen, velvet, or ticking stripe – above).

Accessories to consider (also shown in first image above): The ceramic Sea urchin votive from Good, vintage photography by Karl Blossfeldt (shown aspidium filix mas and cirsium canum cirse). Tip: DIY your own photos by spending a day outdoors snapping photos of pinecones and ferns on a flat smooth surface. Photoshop them into Sephia or Black and White and frame. I also love this white coral lamp or this shell-filled cameo box from Anthropologie. I’m also thinking a meditation hourglass on a stack of books would blend nicely. The eve glass tea light holder looks like a sea urchin, so I just love it, from Lille in Chicago. And just try to say no to this twig easel from Anthropologie.

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistSome beautiful d?coupage finds from the amazing John Derian fit this look perfectly. Visit his NYC store for the ultimate experience – it’s gorgeous!

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistYou can mix in a little toile as long as it doesn’t depict the typical country scene (Victorian ladies lounging by a pond). The Bird Toile Quilt and Sham from Pottery Barn is perfect from color to it’s floral and fauna pattern. Their framed bird prints are pretty and fit this look very well, too. Don’t forget glass domes! Jars with screw tops (think old mason jars) are great filled with vintage photos, buttons, thread, even fabric scraps that are rolled like mini scrolls and tied with vintage satin or velvet ribbon. You can also incorporate this vintage-style photo carousel as both a functional, and artistic, centerpiece in your room. Other trend-worthy accessories (not shown) include the Marine candle holder and the coral coasters, all from ZGallerie.

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistPorcelain vases from Sprout Home in Chicago are perfect for your blooms. This Hammerpress print from Rose + Radish lends vintage charm. You can even mix in a softie or two if you so desire. These owls from Tara Morgendorff have a very loved, slightly worn look to them that I picture on a bed or displayed on a window seat.

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistThese Agnes + Hoss Jellyfish pillows work if you’re leaning towards a modern natural vibe. I tend to shy away from using shiny satins or silks for this trend, but these pillows are too lovely to pass up. Hint: If you go with silk elsewhere in the home, try a nubby raw silk. But again, easy on the silk.

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistThe love birds (not shown) from Blue Bell Bazaar are so sweet. I like the Inleaf Geranium Cocktail Napkins, this great Birds of a Feather Mobile from Ige, and did you see this K Studio Branch pillow – Oh so pretty!

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistAnything from Papa Stour seems to fit the Nurturing Naturalist.

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistA beautiful set of bird plates for hanging or dining.

Window Tips: For window treatments, think linens, cottons, natural fibers… Solids or patterns work. Think gorgeous prints like these allspice curtains (above) from Anthropologie. If you can find cut natural bamboo reeds that are long enough (I found some at Pier 1), you can use these as curtain rods. Blinds are nice too… Try bamboo or Cypress shades from Target or these natural woven shades from Smith + Noble.

Flooring: Hardwood is great if you have it. If not, try rugs with nature-inspired patterns or made from natural materials – Sisal, for instance. Chenille is another beautiful option. Felt is my favorite, but of course, a much more expensive option. Check Peace Industry for the best selection. The Tulips in gray is somewhat contemporary, but could be used because of it’s faded color scheme.

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistHardware: Hardware from Anthropologie. Add to kitchen cabinets or your dresser for a fresh new look.

Paint suggestions/Faux Molding Tip: Keep the walls light and faded if you decide to paint. You can trim out the room in pure white if you want the look to lean more on the modern, fresh side. If you want to keep the look more natural, trim the room a few shades darker than the color on the walls. Add height to your ceilings by painted a ‘faux’ crown molding around the entire room near the ceiling – use a shade that is 2-3x darker than your wall color. My picks: If you love green, go with Green Wave 681, if you like the blue tones, try either Seacliff Heights 688 or Bali 702 (for a grayish blue). Silvery Blue 1647 is amazing. For grays, I love First Snowfall 1618 (a barely there gray) and pale smoke 1584. Both of these grays are the ones that seem to reflect light and give the space a fresh feeling (vs. drab and depressing). All colors mentioned above are from the Benjamin Moore Classics collection.

Paint tip: If you are afraid to commit to a color try this. Purchase the Ben Moore minis and 3-4 poster boards. Paint each poster board 2-3 times in one color. Tape a painted poster board to your room, rotating it around the space for one week. (It’s important to rotate walls due to lighting.) Sample only one color at a time (vs. placing all 4 on the wall). Try another color a week later. Continue swapping these around for a month. In the end, you’ll have narrowed it down to 2 or even your favorite. If not, put your 2 remaining choices on the wall and ponder over them. Bring in the fabrics you’d like to use in the room and hold them against the giant swatch. Invite over a few friends with a good eye for color and ask for their opinion.

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistSuggested Books: Found Style by Amy Butler, $23. Great tour of her home. Love this book. Junk Style $17, Flea Market Decorating: Creating Style with Vintage Finds $4!!! (amazing price, awesome book), Creating Vintage Style (I reviewed this title here), Shabby Chic: Sumptuous Settings and Other Lovely Things (I appreciate this book for her fabulous faded hues and how she displays her collections, and though I’m not big on her floral patterns, I really like how casual and simple her style is. Just make sure to mix in more natural elements (feathers, botancial prints, etc.) to capture the look of the Nuturing Naturalist. And finally Flea Market Style $18. It’s like walking into one giant issue of Living Etc.

Spaces inspired by this trend…

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistImage from Found Style

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistImage via BBDW in New York (they have amazing furniture).

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistImage from Elle Decor. This is Thomas O’Brien’s personal workspace.

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistThis is more eclectic, but it still works because of the soft lines of the Pantone chair. Image via Domino mag.

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistImage via Domino magazine. This is a stunning bedroom and another example of mixing trends.

Trends 2007: The Nurturing NaturalistImage via via: Aero Studios.

Locals: If you live in Boston, Good on Charles Street in Beacon Hill encapsulates the look and feel of this trend. In New Hampshire, Red Chair Antiques is amazing and well worth the drive to Peterborough. In Providence, definitely hit Figments or Butterfield on Westminster.

Psst: Looking for another great source for items that fit this trend? Visit Ballard Designs

Next trend coming soon… Beachy Keen!


  • Reply Another Shade of Grey January 25, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Great post. Now I’ve just got to read it. ;)

    I’m a visual learner. :)

  • Reply erin scissorhands January 25, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    awesome post…kind of reminds me of what i have been envisioning for our living room.

  • Reply Erin T January 25, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Thank you thank you! This post was helpful and SO inspiring :) My living room dearly needs that little extra something. I’ve got a good modern neutral background but no oomph. Once in a while I try to get that oomph with bold colors and stuff that I adore in magazines, but it just isn’t “me” and I end up changing everything.
    That perfect little touch of nature softens modern edges, adds texture and visual interest without requiring over-the-top colors (although I’m loving those lacquered turquoise tables in the birdcage bedroom from Domino!)
    I love this trend, but I also love how nature can never truly go out of style. This post has inspired me to start by adding a couple nature-y touches to my living room – a DIY nature photograph, dried sweet gum pods in a jar, maybe even a terrarium!

  • Reply decor8 January 25, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    I’m glad this post helps those of you that are keen on this look. It’s one of my favorites because I love nature. Let me know if you have any questions.

  • Reply Andi January 25, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Well, I finally finished reading it! I love nautre, so thanks for the tips.
    Oh, and thanks for these wonderful trend posts. Can’t wait for the rest of them!

  • Reply Cynthia January 25, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    Wow Holly!
    I can’t thank you enough. Finally a design blog giving real and specific design advice!! Beautiful photos, great style and great suggestions. I can’t believe no one else has done this already but you have been a real help. I’m exploding with tons of inspiration to make my home my nest. Thanks again, you are hands down the best on the web. When is YOUR book coming out?!!

  • Reply decor8 January 25, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    Thank you Andy and Cynthia! I have 8 more that will show on the blog over the next few weeks, I’m trying to write 3-4 each week. The next trend I’m featuring is Beachy Keen — lots of driftwood and glass… YUM.


  • Reply avid fan January 25, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    I stumbled across your site and I can’t believe my good luck. You have an amazing eye for beauty :)

  • Reply Jason January 25, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    Bravo Holly! This is such a wealth of information. I love this look, I’m only sorry I’ll be away and miss the rest of the posts until I return. Thanks for the hard work and effort.

  • Reply Allison January 25, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    It’s worth noting that real coral is not a sustainable product and should be avoided since coral takes a very long time to grow and establish and yet is a vital part of its marine ecosystem. It shouldn’t be harvested to make our homes pretty. Go for the fake resin stuff or paint some twirly twigs with bright enamel paint for the DIY version.

  • Reply pinkmohair January 25, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    Haven’t been able to read the whole thing but very well timed. I’ve ordered some antique lithographs like these for one of my rooms, almost bought those letter hooks this week (alas, didn’t have my initial) to use as key hooks for husband and me, nearly ordered a black and white fiddlehead photo (but they sort of creep me out) and have just made a dome full of goodies!

    I’m curious – how do you keep your “look book.” Do you just cut out what you like and file it under room, color or something else? I find it hard to just dump all my Domino’s and Livingetcs because I just go through them again and again. Unfortunately, they take up SO much room.

  • Reply decor8 January 25, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    here are some photos (and a how to) about my look books since you asked. they are really fun to do, and reference!

  • Reply Anonymous January 25, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    Your blog gets better and better all of the time. I am constantly impressed by your work and talent. Thank you so much for being so uniquely Decor8!

    I have so many ideas now from this post, I took the time to read the entire thing and even printed it out. What a wealth of information.


  • Reply Connie January 25, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    this is a long post! but this is so great. i love this style… how its modern and traditional with character class and comfort. i have bookmarked this post for continuing inspiration!

  • Reply jen January 26, 2007 at 4:36 am

    Fab post Holly! I think this is one trend that will never look dated…

  • Reply Anonymous January 26, 2007 at 4:38 am

    It may be a long post but it’s a fabulous one to boot. Just terrific!

  • Reply susanna January 26, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    Great post!! I’ve been visiting all your recommended sites. I’ve bookmarked Room and Board and will definitely visit their store in NYC next time I go in to the city. My husband and I are looking for a stylish yet comfortable sofa and they certainly have a terrific selection. I hadn’t heard of them before so thank you! My sister gave me those little white sea urchin votives for my birthday last year, stylish sis that she is (yay for me!). John Derian – my favourite store in NYC. And Papa Stour – I love those seagull pillows and scarves (so lovely…so expensive but oh, so lovely). And I’ve been eyeing the book, Flea Market Style, for weeks now. Thanks to this post, I think I’m going to finally pick it up this weekend. Again, great post!

  • Reply Anonymous January 26, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Holly THANK YOU so much for writing this. I am going to spending my entire weekend decor8ing!

  • Reply Melanie January 26, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    Wow Holly, love your post AND the trend. (seems classy and classic) That is a lot of research and info backing up some really choice images. Can’t wait to see the rest of the series.

  • Reply My Marrakech January 26, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    What an absolutely gorgeous and amazing post, Holly. You have totally outdone yourself. You are the most amazing and inspirational blogger out there for those of us who want beautiful homes and are not quite sure how to get there. It really, really, helps to see images of everything put together and resources for attaining the look. I am ready to shop! And thank you:-)

  • Reply alexandrina January 26, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    Amazing post! Thanks for all of your research and hard work :-)

  • Reply Sara January 26, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    Another lovely place to get things in this style is VivaTerra, which I adore. I ordered the pussy willow wreath from there for my mom for Christmas and it is gorgeous.

  • Reply designisthisdesignisthat January 27, 2007 at 12:18 am

    Thanks for the amazing info Holly!

  • Reply Marcia January 27, 2007 at 2:12 am

    Best post I’ve seen in ages! Great work Holly, you are officially the Queen Design Blogger!

  • Reply Blythe January 27, 2007 at 5:00 am

    My goodness, thanks for the wonderful post. My mouth practically fell open as I started reading this post – it felt like you had me in mind when writing this. It’s totally my aesthetic and so of course I was drooling all over the place. Brilliant!

  • Reply Carlene January 27, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Thank you so much for all your work on this; I’m going to spend all weekend following these links. I love this style! And Thoms O’Brien is the bomb. Do people still say the bomb?

  • Reply decor8 January 29, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    Reading all of your posts blew my mind – wow – thanks a million to each and every one of you for taking the time to comment on this post. I’m still working on “beachy keen” and a 4th trend feature – both will appear on the blog this week… These are a lot of fun and your emails and blog comments have given me lots of fuel to keep going – THANK YOU. :)

  • Reply terri February 1, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    wow holly, thanks! i discovered your post through alison bock’s (who you wrote about) and now i have a new blog to love! i didn’t even know decorating blogs existed (hey, i’m an engineer and don’t spend much time surfing for pleasure). i am also a hobbyist photographer and have a brand new house so i am eager for naturalistic decorating ideas. your post hit home. i’ve been collecting objects to decorate “from” including lavender, seashells (great colors!), and a collection of botanical prints i’ve amassed over the years. i think this *natural-ly* style would really work well for us since i’ve been wanting to include the botanical prints and antique bird/nest/egg paintings i own! wow! thanks for the inspiration…

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