Thursday, March 26, 2009

You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman

We all pick up shells and stones, or pieces of twigs and drift wood, moss and pine cones, star fish and coral. We bring them home, and these natural elements always seem to find a way into our decor.

One of my many collections of shells and coral

We love the color plates in specimen books. Botanicals are ever popular, and it's not that unusual to take the pages out of a book to frame them.

Many of us have a wall dedicated to a grouping of botanicals.

My office - the botanicals are antique prints from Italy

Butterfly specimens and charts are very pretty, and have been displayed by both collectors and decorators for eons.

get this one here

Butterfly specimens in my office above my gris-gris altar

The other day a woman came into the shop looking for skeleton charts, or bones, specimens she wanted to give to her son who is graduating medical school. The designers Nate Berkus and Candice Olson use skeleton charts as art.

Vintage skeleton charts in my house - I bought them in Lisbon in the flea market

You can frame pieces of fan coral to make a very pretty grouping.

Bird cages are another element that evokes the natural theme.

Natural elements displayed on the mantel provide an opportunity to collect a variety of things.

More botanicals in this pretty dining room. I love how low the bottom row is hung.

Book shelves provide an excellent opportunity to make pretty vignette using the most natural things you can find,

These prints are pages from a book.

A collection of rocks and shells are offset by the lamp with a black shade.

My house with a collection of natural elements

Layering objects is a must for the natural look. I love each layer from the prints on the wall in the background to the lamp and the bee print propped up in the mid section, to the nests and eggs in the front, and then an another layer with the little butterfly specimen.

A more modern room might use black and white photographs of plant forms in lieu of antique botanical prints.

Small vitrines provide a cabinet of curiosities feeling.

So to review:
How many of these things do you collect, and how do you use them?
  • Groupings of botanicals
  • Moss, twigs, stones, coral, shells
  • Birds and butterflies and bugs
  • Bird cages
  • Small curiosity cabinets
  • Trays and plates and urns and vessels to hold things
  • Specimen charts
  • Feathers
  • Bell jars or glass domes
  • Horns

You'll soon be humming make me feel like a natural woman...


Blushing hostess said...

ooops, none - yet, swing by when you can, I posted about you...

Jill said...

I usually bring home shells from trips...they're scattered around the house. I do however actively collect Mexican reticulated abalone fish bottle openers. I have a large Thai bowl, that we call The Boat, that I keep them in.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


simply seleta said...

What a pretty post! They always are. I hear you are the lucky hostess to our special NY friends. Can't wait to hear all about it!!! Wish I were there to see your pretty house!

Tricia - Avolli said...

Living on the coast of Maine makes it rather easy to incorporate natural elements into design...we are very lucky here...sea glass, sea shells, drift wood are present in everyone’s' home to a certain degree. It's very fun...

Tricia - Avolli

Anonymous said...

Oh, Baby! My heart swells with joy as it resonates with this post. I am such a total magpie when it comes to natural elements and picking up "every little thing" off the ground. the number of cardboard boxes labeled "nature items" have existed since childhood and continue to proliferate due to being raised rurally and having grandparents in the mountains and at the coast. Feathers, shells, rocks, seeds, seed pods, galls, pieces of wasp's nests, shedded snake and lizard skins, bird nests and eggs (fallen, never stolen), small branches, twigs, pressed leaves, bug bodies (fallen, not killed by me), pieces of bark, acorns, etc. I set them in baskets, bowls, and on top of shelves. But then it gets overwhelming and dusty, so in a box they go, and the process starts all over again. My hubby is so happy that I would step over a diamond to get to a feather or interesting rock. Ture story: On one of his out-of-town business trips, the other hubs were picking out gifts for their wives at jewelry stores and shops, and they ask him, "What are you going to get Carey?" He said, "Oh, all I have to do is find a good rock or bird feather and she'll be thrilled." And he's right. I also respond well to Butterfinger candy bars.

Beautiful post, and I love the hint about layering to make the best impact with natural items. I also recognize that vignette from your home which you shared in your Chinese New Year party post. I love that vignette, and were I at your house I would sit there alone and have myself a little moment.

Carla said...

Hi Valorie, What a wonderful post full of beautiful details. So Gorgeous. Carla

Paul Pincus said...

this was fantastic ... i enjoyed the shots of your home the most!

we kinda sorta collect bird cages ... an amazing frederic/k weinberg and another i picked up at mecox gardens years ago.

i'm in love with the butterfly specimens and charts!

pve design said...

Naturally, you are talking my language.
Music to my ears....

Maria Killam said...

I like glass domes and shells. Great images you have shown!

Love Where You Live said...

I love bringing nature into a home -- whether if be with framed botanicals to interesting finds found along a walk. Wonderful -- and inspirational -- images. cheers, -susan

beachbungalow8 said...

great photos! thanks, I pulled several of these. I love natural science themed spaces. Design found in nature is perfection.

Michelle Zuniga said...

Love your blog! Its fun and inspiring- I think we have a lot in common- I have been a stylist for years, producing and styling for ads and shelter publications. And working as an interior designer fo a number of years. I love your photos of the natural elements- I can never have enough shells and coral! Look forward to your blog!
Take Care!