Bringing the outside inside

Herbs on window sill

As the UK’s lockdown extends into a ninth week, it’s clearly going to be many months before life gets back to ‘normality’. And whilst most of us enjoy getting outside for our daily exercise, we’ve missed unrestricted access to the great outdoors. With foreign holidays likely be off the menu for some time and even domestic travel possibly curtailed, we’ve now started to think about ways we can bring the outside inside. And although none of the following suggestions are intended to replicate the sensations of exploring a national park or camping in the wilderness, they might just help to soften the blow of reduced access to outside space for the time being:

  • Outdoor photography montages. Modern HD and 4K TV/monitor screens offer pin-sharp picture quality, accurately capturing the intricacy of the natural world. From rippling ponds to snowy mountains, montages can be set up and run on many devices, akin to the stunning screensaver images on Amazon Kindle Fire sticks.
  • Stream YouTube videos. If a rolling image gallery isn’t immersive enough, there are millions of natural-world videos on YouTube. Some have musical overlays but many simply broadcast the sights and sounds of nature. Birdsong is particularly popular, while some ambient soundtracks are eleven hours long.
  • Create a foraged nature collage. If you’re able to go out occasionally, each season brings a treasure trove of flora and fauna to collect. Right now, there are bluebells to pick and pinecones to harvest from the ground. These can be glued onto cardboard sheets, pressed and mounted in cases, or added to decorative baskets.
  • Redecorate with scenery-inspired wallpaper. This takes the wall-mounted collage a step further. Wallpaper manufacturers are increasingly printing whole-wall murals, typically of forests. These rely on accurate measurements and may require professional installation, but they tend to look spectacular on a feature wall (if you’ve ever walked along the flight arrivals corridor at Glasgow Airport, you’ll know what we mean!).
  • Replicate outdoor smells. From washing liquid to scented diffusers, there are numerous replications of natural aromas in manmade products. Diffusers help to introduce fragrant smells into the home, though plug-ins tend to be more synthetic and overpowering than candle melts, reed bottles or manual aerosols.
  • Grow herbs in a window box. Some herbs also have strong aromas, including basil, coriander, lavender and mint. Buy a small window box, or manufacture your own by chopping a carton in half vertically. With daily watering, a small bag of compost and some seeds should be sufficient to grow herbs on a south or west-facing windowsill.
  • Recreate outdoor toys inside. This is a messy and slightly random suggestion, but if you don’t have significant outdoor space, some garden toys can easily be adapted for the interior. Swing ball, small sandpits and tepees can provide children with refreshing distractions, though obviously, each requires a fair amount of available floor space.

There are lots of other ways to bring the outside indoors, from fruit baskets to pressed flowers. Spread a blanket on the floor and have an indoor picnic as fresh air billows through open windows, or replicate an Easter egg hunt for children by hiding small outdoor objects around the living room. A little imagination could help to soften the blow of being unable to access outdoor amenities in the weeks and months ahead.

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