Beneath the Surface

Most of human history has been spent finding ways to best adapt to our physical environment. This ancient link to the earth has come full circle, manifesting in a new approach to our interiors: Organic Modern design. These four basic rules will help you reconnect with Mother Nature from the comfort of your home.

Organic Modern Living Room Design
Source: EST Living / Design: Faulkner Architects / Photo: Joe Fletcher

Color and Tone

From a crimson rose to the deep blue seas, and purple mountains’ majesty—this planet is a technicolor wonderland. When designing an organic modern space, however, subtlety and serenity come first. That doesn’t mean just brown and green, mind you. There’s a whole spectrum of “earth tones” at your disposal. Auburn. Olive. Ecru. Sage. While bolder shades might not be best for an organic modern approach, that doesn’t mean going neutral has to be boring. Just take a look at these three spaces that range from the monochromatic to the downright dramatic—without straying too far from nature’s most basic palette.

Neutral Colors in Living Room and Bar Design
Source: Scout and Nimble / Design: Subdivision Studios

Neutral Warm Design and Decor in Boho Dining Space
Source: Burke Decor

Dark Earth Tones in Hollywood Hills Kitchen by Studio Shamshiri
Source: Wallpaper* / Design: Studio Shamshiri / Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson

Natural Lighting

The last few years have taught us all the value of a stroll outside. A chance to stretch our legs, breathe in some fresh air and, most importantly, soak up some vitamin D. When it comes to organic modern design, the rays can come to you. If we’re getting technical, sunlight isn’t exactly an earthly element. But, like water, we can’t live without it—so design-wise, it's a must. This can be achieved in various ways, as seen in the following projects—from simple skylights, to ensuring easy access to outdoor spaces, to installing oversized windows (or even full windowed walls) that flood your living area with natural light. Let the sunshine in.

Skylight in Kew, Australia Apartment Design by Cera Stribley
Source: Cera Stribley / Design: Cera Stribley

Minimalist Living Space with Window Wall in Seattle Residence
Source: Dwell / Design: Suyama Peterson Deguchi / Image Courtesy of Ed Sozinho and Charlie Schuck


Light Filled Living Room in Carmel, CA Home by Amber Interiors
Source: @amberinteriors

Indoor/Outdoor Synergy

Perhaps the most important component to include in your organic modern design is the synergy between indoor and outdoor spaces. No, that doesn’t mean you need a tree growing in the middle of your living room, but any chance to blur the lines between the interior and exterior of your home will reestablish your connection to nature. Consider these architectural choices that easily best the power of a houseplant, and will help you explore the fusion of indoor and outdoor worlds—covered patio areas, exposed walkways, backyard living spaces, and (yet again) full windowed walls that thin the veil between you and your surroundings.

Outdoor Entertaining Space in Hancock Park Residence
Photo: Jenna Peffley

Indoor Outdoor Breezeway in Pacific Northwest Home
Source: Scott Mitchell Studio

Poolside Landscape Design at Ledgewood Project in Hollywood Hills
Source: Wallpaper* / Design: Studio Shamshiri / Landscape: Terremoto / Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson

Full Wall Window and Living Room in Holmby Hills Residence
Source: Scott Mitchell Studio

Organic Elements

After a soothing, neutral color scheme is decided, and the architectural decisions have been made to both maximize natural lighting and establish a clear relationship between the interior and exteriorthere's only one key component left that will help tie together your organic modern design: the right decor. 

Emphasizing naturally-occurring elements like wood and stone are essential. They can be integrated functionally in furniture and structural elements, or through art and accent pieces. Plant life and botanicals add a sense of vitality and energy while boosting our physical and mental well-being. Playing with a variety of natural materials—leathers, textiles, rattan, concrete, jute, terracotta—add earthy elegance, as well as dimension and texture. Lastly, including handcrafted pieces, such as pottery, basketry, rough-hewn furniture or artisan artwork can give a nod to the perfectly imperfect side of the natural world. The aesthetics in the following spaces are distinct: industrial, tropical, and sleekly modern. All three, however, use organic elements to great effect throughout their designs.

Organic Modern Decor in Minimalist Dining Space
Source: CB2

Neutral Organic Elements in Greek Resort Design

Stone and Wood Elements in Modern Bathroom Design
Source: Bēhance / Image: Simone Manna

As our lives have moved increasingly indoors over the last few years, the shift toward organic modernism has proven to be a beautiful and beneficial way for us to retain our sacred bond with Mother Nature. Through simple, thoughtful design we can enjoy all the charms of the outside world from the comfort of our homes. Reconnect, and get back to your roots.


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