a home for all seasons
Connecting ourselves and our homes to nature as a means to boost feelings of wellbeing has been become quite a hot topic, with research showing that even just viewing elements of nature can have positive effects both mentally and physically.
An important element of biophilic design is connecting to nature through living systems and natural processes. The changes of the seasons are a perfect examples of how we physically and emotionally experience natural processes. Each season brings its own colour palette and fragrances, a palpable shift in energy - be it new life, growth, then decay before a slow, almost dormant period where nature prepares itself for the next cycle of life. So connecting to the seasons through your home is a great way to fully embrace nature and natural processes.
Now I’m not talking about fully redecorating every room with every season, that would just be quite frankly ludicrous and besides who has the time or the money for that ? not to mention it would be a completely wasteful endeavour. It's not about a decorating merry-go-round rather a sensory way to connect us to the changes in the natural world around us.
Rather than a full redecoration, think more a considered refresh, a gentle nod to each season, to feel it's presence and mark the passage of time and shift in seasonal energy. It can be as simple as using seasonal fragrant blooms from the garden to connect you to nature in your home.
Acknowledging seasonal rhythms and vibrations has helped me feel far more balanced throughout the year. I don't think I suffer with SAD but like many I do find certain months harder than others. I've found that by leaning into the seasons, it has helped me manage and balance my mood - especially the months I struggle with, January & February. Being self employed means its easier for me to have more control over my time, but holidays are still rare during the main part of the year. As a strategy to cope with the months I struggle with most, I now follow the energy of the seasons, making January my month to rest and retreat, this is my holiday time. I struggle with new year optimism in January, way too much pressure to be shiny, new, healthy and determined. I need this time to restore myself mentally and physically and to prepare myself for the year ahead. As February emerges (which to me feels like the start of a new year), much like the first green shoots I start to feel revived and ready for new year of life.
How I have embraced the seasons so far this year
All too often I think fragrance is a design afterthought but for me it's a key priority in my home and for my wellbeing. As a candlemaker it's not really a surprise that fragrance is an important part of my life, but its really only over the last few years I've tuned into how impactful seasonal scents have become for me as a way to mindfully connect further to nature.
This year I have also focused on seasonal fragrant house plants such as Lavender, Jasmine, Lilies and decorating my kitchen with potted fragrant herbs. Their flowers and fragrance may be fleeting but their transient nature is kind of the point, being present to enjoy it while it lasts, during the season it blooms in. Having a potted Lily placed on my landing fragranced the whole hallway through summer.
As the seasonal spring/summer fragranced plants fade away, the shift towards cosy nights calls for heavier scents to fragrance our home. I turn towards warm & woody for autumn, through to spicy and festive fragrances for the holidays. I have candles burning all year, but I know for many Autumn/Winter is when most people reach for candles. Candles and diffusers are a great way to fragrance your home during colder months when nature outside isn't quite so fragrant. A word of caution though, seek out natural fragrances. It's not always transparent what's actually in them. Some natural wax candles contain synthetic fragrances which can irritate sensitive nasal passages and cause headaches. 100% natural is always best and the only way to avoid bringing further toxins into your home.
Seasonal planting in the garden
We have been lucky to inherit a garden that has been planted to create a non-stop show of colour and texture from February through to September. As one species dies back another pops up, Snowdrops & Daffodils give way to Bluebells, then Iris, Cornflowers, Forget-me-nots, Ladys Mantel, followed by Rosehip, Hawkweed, Roses and Poppies. Observing the changes in a seasonally planted garden really connects you to nature visually, so with just a little more thought as to what you plant you can create a spectacular display of garden colour throughout the seasons. And then you can bring it inside, this years Ladys Mantle was in abundance and made for a simple but striking display.
During the summer months its always a pleasure to cut fresh flowers from the garden to bring colour and fragrance into your home but as the seasons change preserving is a great way to save some of your favourites for Autumn. Drying flowers and grasses is another way of connecting to the natural change you see in your garden or local landscape. It's also a very budget friendly way to bring elements of nature inside too.
I am yet to master drying hydrangeas (they always go brown and turn to dust) but I have had some success with poppy seed heads this year. Where once these vivid red blooms brightened my garden in summer, now the dried seed heads have become a perfect autumnal decoration for my coffee table. The foraged pine cones add a beautiful texture to any display, these are especially significant to me as they represent woodlands which are my favorite natural spaces.
So as the Autumn Equinox approaches many of us will now be getting our homes and gardens ready for the cooler months. Autumn brings our focus back indoors and reflecting this season in our homes is way to connect to the outside world as we prepare to spend more time in our homes.
Now is the time we start layering in textures, colours and lights - cottons and linens give way to wools and velvet, throws become thicker and cosier, the fire is lit and the heating goes on. Out come the candles, tealights and fairy lights as the night draw in and the colours in our home get richer, especially at Christmas.
I have been shopping my home and gathering pieces of amber glass, textured ceramics and earthy toned accessories to ramp up autumn in my sitting room, which to be fair is already decorated in autumnal colours because it's my favourite season.
When it comes to styling the seasons, Instagram is full of exceptional inspiration - especially for Autumn. There are a few who really go the extra mile to celebrate and savour the seasons, those who create cosy homes all year round or are inspired by seasonal colours. So I asked a few of my favourites what the seasons meant to them:
JP at @jpslifeandloves
"My love of seasonal styling started when I was a child. I used to forage in the forest for branches and berries and bring them home to display. My mother used to think I was crazy! That love has endured and has followed me into my later life. It’s amazing what a difference just bringing a little of the outside in can do for the home and our well-being. I’m now known for displays verging on the ridiculous, be they autumnal pumpkin installations, or festive extravaganzas. I can’t get enough of it. It’s my one true love." JP
Nicky at @imrich_lodge
"The seasons have a massive influence on my home. As the seasons change so do all my faux flowers and I mix them with what I can forage. I have a lot of faux flowers and berries which have cost a fortune over the years and are very realistic. However, they are only realistic if used in the correct season!
Autumn and winter when we spend most time indoors the fire is lit before breakfast - so the house has a different atmosphere and a cosy glow. I put layers on the furniture - velvets, tweeds, furs, wool - tactile fabrics. And actually - I tend to use candles which are muskier and 'heavier' in the winter and more 'green/citrus' smelling in summer so home even smells different at different times of the year.
In the spring and summer I bring out the crisp cottons and linens and the emphasis is more on floral patterns. Everything is lighter" Nicky
"As I’ve got older and perhaps thanks to the influence of Instagram, I’ve learned to
embrace the seasons far more, especially from a home styling point of view.
Spring and Summer are where it’s at for me. Spring is all about new life, the
promise of longer days, brighter mornings, the growing season, with the colours light
and fresh. Then Summer kicks in, bringing with it a colour drench. My garden a feast
for the senses, full of lush greens and the heady smell of roses, honeysuckle and
As August draws to a close, though I start to feel the familiar uneasy twitch. The
night’s drawing in, the temperature beginning to drop, the short days round the
corner. I could never fully appreciate Autumn and all its beauty because it heralded
the end of my favourite season, my SAD kicking in.
In recent years though, probably thanks to working from home and no longer
commuting, I’ve been able to take a step back, take in what’s around me and
embrace the colour. Very often my garden is still giving me plenty of flowers to enjoy,
such as hydrangeas and dahlias. By bringing them in the house to enjoy, drying
them, so that some of the colour albeit it more muted in tone will see me through in
to the winter. I head out on nature walks, bringing home some branches with the
leaves turning colour, perhaps some berry stems, seed heads.
With darker evenings it’s about creating the cosy, hygge vibes in the living room. The
ritual of switching on the fairy lights round the fireplace, lighting candles, burning
incense, fluffing up the sheepskins, making sure the blanket basket is well stocked
and in easy reach. Perhaps switching round the cushions for heavier more textural
With my garden, I try to make sure there’s colour interest there and planting that
extends well into late Autumn. Plants like dahlias, cosmos, sedums, hydrangeas,
will flower a little later in summer and will keep going until the first frosts arrive.
But Autumn turns to Winter and that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Past Christmas, I
go into hibernation mode, counting the days until March and the promise of some
warmth in the air." Sarah
"For me, autumn is a strange one. I still get the 'back to school' feeling (and I really didn't enjoy school!) However, over the last few years, I've really started to challenge this thinking, and appreciate the real beauty the changing of the season holds. I am a lover of cosy, all year round. However, this year, I am really starting to feel excited about the cooler, darker evening, candles are switched up - so lots of warming, spicier scents - pumpkin, cinnamon, orange, rather than some of the fresher summer fragrances.
I have definitely been inspired by autumn with my living room ceiling. I've used Earthborn Paints 'Flower Pot'. My home comes into its own in the autumn/winter months. So I am leaning into this, and embracing the cosy. Lots of earthy tones and textures. I've pulled out oranges and browns, and have some clashing patterns and textures. This does make the spaces feel very warm and comforting and this allows you to embrace the greyer days and darker nights" Gareth
Bringing the seasons into your home is far more than a frivolous social media trend, it can be a mindful way to experience the cycles of life and feel connected to the vibrations of nature.