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Delicious Living

Bring the outdoors in

What is a garden house? It's when you extend the natural world into your indoor world, according to Bonnie Trust Dahan, an avid gardener and author of Garden House (Chronicle Books, 1999). Your place, in other words, is not cut off from the realms of soil, sun, and plants. "A garden is emotional and personal," says Dahan. "When it becomes part of your indoor life, it is the perfect antidote to stressful lives." To invoke the garden spirit in your own home, try Dahan's artful and easy home-decorating ideas for the spring season.

Get in touch with your favorite flower, moss, or leaf color by walking in a park or garden. Paint a wall in your bedroom or living room in that hue. "The color resonates with you and so will make you feel alive," Dahan says.

Be a forager. If you have your own garden or know someone with one, consider nothing off-limits. Fallen branches, dropped pods, and flower clippings blend into the environment outside. "But when you bring them indoors they become singular expressions of nature," says Dahan.

"I recommend that people do a quarterly ritual," Dahan says. "Spend an afternoon walking through your home and thinking about the new season outdoors." When the weather turns warmer, change out darker bedsheet colors and heavier textiles for brighter and lighter coverings. Exchange the weighty place mats on your dining table for airy woven ones. Bring a fresh fruit-scented soap into the bathroom instead of a woodsy-smelling bar.

Take curtains off windows to let in the natural light. In winter, you want to feel cozy and may crave darkness, according to Dahan. In spring, the sun moves higher and lasts longer. You can reflect the natural seasons by inviting in more light this time of year.

Bring a scent of the world, such as newly mowed grass or bits of the forest after a rainstorm, inside instead of using synthetics. "I'm big on natural aromatherapy," says Dahan. For example, try a hinoki-wood bath mat that contains therapeutic and antimicrobial minerals and essential oils.

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