Natural materials are not only beautiful—they also instill a warm and cozy atmosphere that symbolically connects your home to the Earth on which it rests. Like a 100% wool sweater, natural materials breathe, insulate, and provide surfaces that are conducive to good acoustics in your home. There are few downsides to having a home filled with wood, stone, clay (and the list goes on).
Here are some ideas for incorporating a feeling of natural wellness through the materials you use in your home!
Wooden floors have long been revered as a high-quality and elegant feature in any home, adding both physical and visual warmth to the ambience of a room. When building a wood floor, you can choose from a wide variety of panel lengths and geometric patterns, as well as a variety of tones and textures, making wood a highly versatile material when it comes to drastically different decorating styles.
Another beautiful natural material for your floors is stone. Stone materials range from more porous, granular textures like limestone to flatter materials like slate, and for a more polished material you can look to granite and marble. Stones have the tendency to provide a deep grounding effect for a space—but they can also bring a cooling effect to the room. If you prefer something warm beneath your feet, you can layer your stone floors with warmer naturally-derived coverings such as a woven straw or bamboo mat, and plush woven rugs made of wool or hemp.
Stucco is often found in stippled patterns on a home's exterior, but the textural possibilities of this clay materials make it excellent for bringing a certain raw edge to your interiors as well. Stucco is usually made from clay or plaster and lime, which lends the material its typical white colour. With this material, you can add depth, shadowy contrasts, and raw, earthy textures to your rooms. The free-flowing organic texturing in this example gives off a highly distinctive natural feel in this living space.
Although house paint is chemical in nature, you can get natural paints that are made with natural pigments, adding less toxins to your home. These paints are widely available both online and in hardware stores, and many include a base of clay or lime.
Alternatively, if you're looking to add the warmth of wood to your space without going the whole mile, you can now purchase paint that is created to give your walls a
woody texture. While this doesn't bring any of the other benefits of wood beyond the visual ones, it certainly is an efficient and simple solution (though you'll find these
wood paints to be a bit more expensive than your typical latex paints)!
Some of the most important aspects of a home remain unseen in day-to-day life—insulation is one of them. Your insulation is one feature of your home that's extremely easy to find natural solutions for—there is insulation comprised of flax, cotton, wood fibre, hemp, and even straw bales! An insulation professional will likely explain that you need to also add a special coating to ensure that the insulation doesn't absorb too much moisture and grow mouldy, and most countries' building codes require some sort of flame retardant coating as well. Intrigued by these natural materials? You'll like our feature on building with straw.
By far the quickest way for a non-professional to go about adding natural materials to their home is through the furniture. The sofa in this living room is an excellent example of this, with its wood limbs, neutral upholstery shade, soft trim, and crocheted throw—the definition of comfortable! Incorporate natural textiles like linen and wool into the fabric of your decor. Small pebbles are excellent for filling glass vases or creating a small rock garden as decoration. You can also simply stock some wooden logs next to the fireplace (even if it burns gas—why not?), and of course, you can always add a breath of fresh air by growing plants indoors.
Since natural materials are less tampered with than synthetic ones that have been specifically design for their modern functions, architects and builders may have to follow a few additional rules when using these natural materials for building your home. First of all, you'll want to check that the materials are high-quality, durable, and natural -not every product that claims to be natural has the official certification or seal (which varies among product categories). In addition, natural materials are often more flammable than synthetic ones, so different rules may apply when it comes to sealants and ventilation systems. You'll need to check these points in advance to avoid hassle with insurance later on.
Want to see these natural materials in action? Start with a tour of this natural and welcoming wooden home!