Friday, March 16, 2012

Decorating With Natural Curiosities

The last two posts have been leading up to this one!
Decorating with "natural curiosities."
It's a trend I've been paying attention to, because it appeals to the strong hunting and gathering instinct in me.

I realize you all might be creeped out a little. I mean who wants lizards and dead birds in their curio cabinet? Actually, this cabinet is in Paris's Natural History Museum.
I prefer the green cabinet above displaying lovelies from the sea!

Country Living
It's all about bringing the natural world inside. Honoring and respecting nature.
This collection of nature prints from Natural Curiosities certainly does that.

Here is a bathroom decorated with a natural curiosity theme.
The walls were simply decoupaged with prints depicting creatures from the sea.

There are so many species to choose from, that you could pick your theme.
I'm loving this bee print.

Butterflies are a popular theme too.

As well as sea shells.

So far, my natural curiosity collection consists only of bird's nests and sea shells, but I am looking forward to collecting more things like rocks, mossy branches, leaves and feathers.

For The Love Of A House
I am in love with Joan Ross's mantel. She has gathered wonderful elements on her walks and displayed them beautifully. A piece of driftwood, a tree fungus, honeycomb and moss.
I love the juxtaposition of these natural elements with the gold framed mirror, ivy and confit pot.

Country Living
A recent article in Country Living featured this home and a cabinet filled with "controlled chaos" as the homeowner calls it.
It would be fun to have just one curio cabinet filled with specimens gathered on all your travels, walks and hikes on the beach or forest.

A young Alex gathering driftwood on a winter-time California beach.
His collection consists of a boar's head, antlers, a shark's jaw, shark's teeth, and lots of fossils.
He definitely inherited the "hunter, gatherer, collector" gene from me.

Our son-in-law loves finding creepy crawly things too.
He has quite a collection already. I keep telling our daughter Ashley that someday they are going to have a natural curiosity cabinet like this:

It will be filled with specimens from all their travels around the world.

If I haven't creeped you out too much, but instead piqued your interest in natural curiosities, here are some ideas from Better Homes and Gardens for creating your own cabinet of curiosities:

Getting Greener

Moss topiary balls introduce a natural look and add texture to this arrangement of elegant objects. Incorporating natural touches, typically seen as casual, does not diminish the formality of a traditional space. Rather, it adds another layer of personality. Opt for subtle additions and you’ll maintain your room’s sophistication.

Resourceful Recycling

Recycle a collection of glass bottles into an eye-catching mantel display. Gather interesting greenery from outdoors and place each piece in a different jar. Stagger jars according to shape and height, then place a mirror behind the collection to reflect light.

Decorating with Diversity

The beauty of decorating with nature is that the relics complement your keepsakes and flea market gems. Embrace decorating diversity and pair serving trays with shells, photographs, and nature prints.

Conversation Piece

Shelves filled with keepsakes become a cabinet of curiosities, sure to spark conversation with any guests. Cover books with white parchment paper to give them a uniform look. Then pile shells, coral, and apothecary jars on top of and around them for a display with dimension.

Collection Makeover

Give your sand collection a makeover with an elegant twist. Portion out your sand into antique jars and label each one with the location and date. Layer in coral and dried sea plants for an ocean-inspired scene.

Contain Yourself

For a garden-fresh display, assemble a collection of mismatched glassware, along with interesting flowers, greenery, and moss from a garden or floral shop. Arrange your natural finds inside the glassware and group together on a tabletop. Aim for an eclectic collection of natural finds in different heights, sizes, and textures.

Savvy Salvage Finds

For a subtle take on natural decorating, pair primitives with organic forms, such as branches, rocks, and wood. Burnished metal pendants with rope-covered cords set an industrial tone in this dining area. A French hay fork hangs as sculpture on the far wall, nodding to farmhouse rusticity.

You have to admit, decorating with nature is pretty much free! However, if you would like to collect nature prints, there is a website called, of all things, Natural Curiosities, by Christopher Wilcox here.

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French said...

Love this post, as I have a cabinet that holds various birds nests and yes, even a few found animal skulls. I was inspired by Rembrandt Huis in Amsterdam, an amazing display.

Pura Vida said...

OMG! I love collections...if you love something you need to have at LEAST 5 of them! I have turtles upstairs (Our Indian tribe is a turtle clan--Choctaw)Seashells from all the beaches I ever went to..including sand...apothecary jars with soaps from all the hotels I've ever been to...owls in honor of the owls that live in our trees and so popular during the 60s...I could go on, but you might get bored...very very cool blog!

Anonymous said...

Great post and I love collections and big ole cabinets.
be a sweeetie,
Shelia ;)

Today's Treasure by Jen said...

I love this post. I too have a fascination of nature collections. I am in the process of transforming a little china cabinet into something similar and these ideas are so great. So far I have a couple of vintage taxidermy pieces, sea shells, old books and birds nests. Great!

sharon santoni at my french country home said...

"controlled chaos" !! Love it Delores! I'll definitely be using that one in the future when the house is not quite as tidy as it should be!
Love your first picture.
have a lovely weekend

Debra@CommonGround said...

What a great post, love the two cabinets! It definitely takes a good eye and artistic flair to display these things well, all done beautifully here.

Sarah said...

Delores, I've been a hunter/gather all my life. As a child when we took family vacations to CO, I would add my rock finds to the trunk of the car. Little did I know that my father would "edit" them out as we went along. Just too heavy! To this day, I'm one to pick up leaves, rocks, shells, feathers, wasp nests, etc. I like to add bits of nature to vignettes. Don't have a curiosity cabinet, just stash pieces in boxes from time to time. They are often my little souvenir from a trip. ;-)

Unknown said...

Here my almost 88 year old step-father is a trend-setter and I didn't even know it. LOL He has quite a collection of lizards that the cat has brought into the house - dead of course and now merely shells of what they were. But he keeps his on the lazy susan in the middle of the dining toom table. Oh yes, get to gaze upon those crunchies as I have a meal with him or pay bills. LOLOLOL

La Vie Quotidienne said...

I love the look...but a little goes a long way. Nature is our best teacher.

Ames said...

I like the prints and shells and well non animal things. I understand it was considered the norm in it's day. But I am a little creeped out. Sorry just being honest. But hey, if it weren't for people like those that have collected these things, people like me wouldn't have the opportunity to see them up close. Great post!~Ames

Bargain Decorating with Laurie said...

Oh Delores, I adore that first picture of the open-door cabinet with the little cubbies all filled with such interesting treasures. This was a wonderful post. laurie

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