Falling for Flora & Fauna in a BIG Way

Found on El Mueble

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson 

I’m no art expert, but I know what I like when I see it. And what I know about myself is probably true of you, too: I never tire of art that depicts nature. The picture window in this room looks almost like one of my favorite forms of art: botanical illustration. But it’s the real thing, a room with a great view of the outdoors as well as a lush interior landscape. (See more photos of this home in Hampshire, UK, here.)

Research has shown that nature helps heal us physically and emotionally and that even a little exposure produces a lot of benefit. As daylight shrinks along with the temperatures, our direct contact with the outdoors dwindle even more.

The answer to this dilemma is simple: Bring nature inside with the artwork you choose to hang on your walls. Specimen-type prints of flora and fauna are always in style, rarely (if ever) clash with other décor, and work in any room of the home.

For big impact, invest in them in a BIG way—not necessarily money-wise, but with large-formats and/or multiple panels.

Flying solo in a BIG way

One large print—in this case a scarlet ibis, native to South America—nestled between two narrow windows unifies this room. In fact, the room seems to emulate the bird’s habitat, with a seagrass rug, potted palms, a palmetto crown lamp and the “dreamsicle” color of the chaises. I especially love how the carefully arranged throws and pillows, the same on each chaise, direct the eye to the art.

Martha Stewart Living

Some botanicals, like this one, show all the life stages of the plant depicted—root, leaves, flower, flower structure, seed head. The black background makes the illustration pop, and the botanical pillows punch up the neutral sofa.

Double or nothing BIG

Better Homes and Gardens

This is one of those rooms that leaves me at a loss for words (no small feat). You don’t know how many times I’ve started to write a sentence about it and backspaced. Next redo of my own master bedroom is going to shoot for this look, and the water birds in the two prints are a big part of the room’s success. Notice they’re hung with the beaks pointed in, which keeps your eye front and center to the bed area.

The colors in the rest of the room run a gamut—gold, several greens, raspberry, orange, light blue, gray, lavender, cream, black, cognac. All those colors work alongside each other because they all exist in the prints. I especially love how the ground of the print on the right captures the color of the upholstered bed and the texture and color of the green cushions.

Whew! Hot flash! ADORE. This. Room. Water please. Fanning myself now.

Lauren Liess

Designer Lauren Liess had these large-format leaf prints made for a client and involved the client’s children in selecting the specimens from their very own yard. Liess then scanned the leaves into her computer and sent the images to an on-line company to be enlarged and printed on canvas. Cool idea, huh?

Good things come in GROUPS

Monticello Homes

This larger photo flanked by two of the same size is, proportionally, a classic look. These botanicals are photographs rather than illustrations, but created in a photographic process that reveals their inner structure in the spirit of botanical illustration. They lend an ethereal quality to this calm and dreamy bedroom. Check out the wavy texture in the carpet—a subtle repeat of the comforter and the undulating petals of the flowers themselves. Breathtaking!

Found on Daily Mail/UK

Smaller illustrations are used in this room, but they’re grouped and hung in a nontraditional way, using the room’s architectural detailing as an ad hoc frame. The dramatic, almost-black walls are like a stage set, and the prints appear amoeba-like, ready to break out of the frame. The clever use of greens, botanical patterns, and natural materials–particularly living ferns–gives the impression some breaking out has already happened.

How many is TOO many?

Cote de Texas

Not 11, that’s for sure. This is a tricky arrangement to get right because the three bottom prints are larger. But I like how it’s done AND that the one print that inspires the watermelon pink sofa is dead center of the arrangement.

Ryann Ford/Lonny

Now we know that even 27 is not too many. We can only count what we can see, and there may be more here beyond the capture of the camera lens. Regardless, this gallery looks stupendous. The twig floor lamp and the rustic iron-base table turn up the nature volume and keep the fussy feminine sofa and chairs in check. All in all, a sweet balance of beauty and strength, like the birds depicted.

Honestly, would you ever tire of looking at that?

Sourcing BIG illustrations

Tons of Internet sites provide gorgeous flora and fauna prints in a variety of sizes and substrates, from regular old posters on cheap-o paper to giclee prints on canvas. Just do a search and read the fine print.

Check out used bookstores for books with suitable plates for framing, then cut the book apart carefully and frame. Museum stores also have great selections of famous illustrations available as postcards, calendars and posters, usually at reasonable prices. There are also many on-line services and brick-and-mortar stores that will enlarge anything you provide or even put it on fabric or wallpaper.


Audubon/Martha Stewart Living

Spoonflower is one of those on-line services and also sells large-format images of several Audubon illustrations in cooperation with Martha Stewart Living. There are eight birds to choose from, and each takes two yards of 54-inch-wide fabric to print. Cost is determined by the material chosen, and prices run about $20 to $40 per yard. You can order a fabric sample kit for $1 to help with your decision. Just follow all the links for details.

This video tells how the company started. I think it’s so darn cute this guy created this process to help his wife out and then it GREW! Sounds like something my guy would do.

When your “print” arrives, frame in the traditional way, stretch over a canvas frame, hang like a tapestry or make it into a dress! Whatever you choose, it will be BIG. But don’t worry, you’ll be in good company:

“I decided that if I could paint that flower in
a huge scale you could not ignore its beauty.” 

—Georgia O’Keefe

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