The quest for a bit of nature in our lives is for many a perpetual one. We dream of homes in the countryside as recompense for a life of urban toil, we save every year for holidays with the sole objective of escaping the busy metropolises in which we live, and a ‘breath of fresh air’ is literally becoming a luxury in cities like London. If we’re lucky enough to have any scrap of outside space at home, we probably barely have time to maintain it. Perhaps a couple of tubs of herbs on the kitchen windowsill is as good as it gets. And yet, we all know the benefits of a life surrounded by greenery. Plants suck the bad stuff out of the air – parks are often referred to as the lungs of a town – and even the colour green is reputedly calming to our souls (have you noticed how hospitals are often painted a pale minty green?). So what to do? How do you get that fresh feel of the healthy outdoors, indoors?
• Turn to our Inside out/Outside in feature on p71. Here, we explore how getting green indoors might be simpler than you think. And if you do have a patio, back yard or small plot of grass, we show you how to make the most of it by using all your interior design savvy outdoors.
• Join me in making a terrarium. I was recently asked about these from a trend perspective and so found myself doing a little impromptu research. I recall we were banging on about them about a year ago, but must confess I’ve only just caught up in the desire stakes because, hitherto, I personally have always loathed houseplants. I’m not entirely sure why, but I just do. That said, I find myself keen on the idea of a little indoor garden in a miniature greenhouse, which is essentially what a terrarium is. Especially if I could find an original Victorian glass box in which to build it – apparently they came to be de rigueur for any smart 19th-century household because the fern was the must-have plant of the period, and growing them under glass was the only way to ensure their survival.
• Buy the new issue of ELLE Decoration Country, our biannual paean to the most beautiful rural homes in the world. Not quite the same as actually owning one, but pretty close in terms of vicarious satisfaction. On sale 19 May.
4 more things I intend to do now the sun is shining…
1. Clean all of my windows. There’s nothing quite like bright spring/summer sunshine to show up neglect! And the more light that gets inside, the better for all concerned.
2. Investigate ‘Wonderlawn, the cutting-edge of artificial grass’, which really does look incredibly realistic. My little scrap of a front lawn is definitely the worse for wear, and the notion of a perpetually verdant plot is too tempting to ignore. Besides, fake grass has come a long long way, many I know swear by it. And think of all the time saved not clipping, raking, weeding and mowing!
3. Get the roof checked over. Boring but important maintenance. Now is the time to ensure that winter has not taken its toll on roof tiles and flashings, and to check that gutters are clean and clear, so that, come next winter, you’re ship shape and watertight. Prevention always being better than cure.
4. Get the builders in to quote for installing rooflights over the kitchen extension. So many houses I look at for this magazine are wonderful because of the way the architects have manipulated light. Pulling it in from unexpected places is undoubtedly the fast track to a home that is lighter, brighter and more beautiful… which at the end of the day is surely the holy grail for all.
First featured as my Editor’s Letter in the June 2016 edition of ELLE Decoration UK