West Elm + REI: 3 Ways to Bring the Outdoors In

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This spring, REI Co-op and West Elm are partnering on a first-ever co-curated collection of on-the-go outdoor pieces to help people feel more at home outside, from the campsite to your own backyard. As part of our partnership, we’re publishing a series of guest posts from our friends at West Elm. Here, they share expert tips for how to bring a bit of the great outdoors inside.


It’s right around the corner: Summer, the golden child of our four-season family for good reason. The sweet weeks from Memorial Day through Labor Day bring with them long days, breezy nights and endless fun in the sun. So what does it look like when we head inside to cool off, refresh and recharge? Or during cooler months when, faced with dropping temps and graying skies, we find ourselves more often hunkering down for indoor activities?

With a few strategic style moves, you can create a sense of endless summer at home. Here’s how to take a cue from Mother Nature and bring the outdoors in.

1. Go green with plants.

We call it the Golden Age of Houseplants: With indoor planters to suit every space and style and the ability to ship living leafy babes straight to your door, it’s never been easier to be a plant parent.

Layer planters of varying shapes and scales into your space to create a calming oasis:

  • Use hanging planters to add instant interest to a bare wall. We love them in bathrooms (tropical plants thrive in the humidity!) or running up narrow walls between windows.
  • Floor planters with elevated stands create the most dramatic impact. Stagger heights to fill an empty corner or liven up a dead space.
  • Tabletop planters add a touch of green to coffee tables, bookshelves, dining tables and more. Does your kitchen sink face a window? Consider a windowsill herb garden for fresh garnishes at arm’s reach while cooking.
Long Island home

Founders of home accessories brand Quiet Town, Lisa and Michael Fine channel summer vibes in their Long Island, New York, weekend escape. See their full home tour here. (Photo by Landon Vonderschmidt for West Elm.)

2. Invite in light.

You know those teasing winter days when the sun is shining so brightly that you’re almost tricked into believing it’s warmer out than it actually is? That’s the power of light: It keeps things feeling awake, refreshed and warm, mirroring the wide open spaces of the outdoors and contributing to a sense of comfort.

No floor-to-ceiling windows? No problem. Make your own light with a few simple tips:

  • Breezy sheer curtains add style without blocking any precious natural light. They also look light aesthetically, while heavier alternatives can weigh down a space visually. (Pro tip: If you’re opting for sheer curtains in the bedroom, be sure to still pair them with a more opaque window covering. Just because you want the sun to stream in doesn’t mean you want to wake up with it.)
  • Light blond woods keep things open and airy—the same goes for shades-of-white walls and cream or light gray upholstery. Add pops of color with accessories like throw pillows, vases and art.
  • For a feeling of lightness, focus on low-to-the-ground furniture frames that add to a feeling of openness by maximizing the space above it.
  • Mirrors reflect light and help your space feel bigger. If you’re particularly short on natural light, consider positioning a wall mirror opposite a window to increase that feeling of connection to the outdoors.
Michael and Lisa’s Long Island home

A renovated 1970s ranch house, Michael and Lisa’s Long Island home is all about natural wood finishes and energizing, happy color. (Photo by Landon Vonderschmidt for West Elm.)

3. Opt for a nature-inspired palette.

Another way to bring sunshine in: color. A palette of sunny yellows, poppy desert hues and ocean blues evokes a sense of the outdoors and perpetual summer.

Did you know that color can contribute to wellness? West Elm’s paint partner Sherwin-Williams shares some “color theory” to keep in mind when considering what palette to bring into your home:

  • Uplifting Hues: Bright, warm colors can spark joy and lift our mood. Yellows and pinks often give us a sense of health and add to positive thinking.
  • Earth Tones: Blues, tans and clays create a calming, nature-derived atmosphere that especially complement natural flooring materials like wood and stone.
  • Emerald Green: An anchoring color, green signals nature and helps connect us to the outdoors. It signals a sense of escapism—the woods, hiking, turning off our tech—that contributes to authentic living.
Eric Trine’s Long Beach, California, home

Designer Eric Trine’s Long Beach, California, home blends indoors and out with a deep ocean-blue sectional and a healthy dose of plant life. Tour the entire family home here. (Photo by Nicole Franzen for West Elm.)