Winter Is the Time To Bring the Outdoors In

Real Estate Sales Representative with William Raveis Real Estate

I’ll confess that I’ve always been a country boy at heart, having been reared in the Tidewater area of Virginia where, as a boy, I spent most of my time outside and barefoot at that. So, it was a real transition for me when I went to college and lived in a third floor dorm room and couldn’t just swing open the door and feel the lush softness of grass under my feet.

Now as I contemplate a transition from a single family residence with a yard to a top-floor condominium in a five story building, I have one particular concern: how would I adjust to living without my own outdoor property? I began my adult life in a series of apartments and townhouses in New York City and Boston, so at least I was not completely new to the notion of my home being “in” a building, but the decades of living on and tending to my own homestead made me feel deeply connected to the outdoors.

And I know I’m not alone. I’m working with a retired couple who is in contract to sell their home and making the hard decision of whether to move to one of two styles of condominium: one with a front and back yard, the other in a building with just a Juliette balcony. The former affords many of the same outdoor pleasures of single family home ownership, but bears the responsibility of maintenance, if only for some flower beds, which the husband doesn’t mind, but the wife does; the latter is maintenance-free but lacking that connection to nature, except for the views from oversized windows. The couple is still pondering.

As for me, I know I could be happier in new digs without a yard and be content with an elevated view of trees and surrounding hills to greet me each morning, especially in this extraordinary region of ours. However, the days have grown darker as we approach winter, and soon many of us will be leaving home for work before the sun rises and returning again after dark. So much for the nice view.

Especially for the winter months, here are some ideas to bring a bit of the outdoors in, at least throughout the chillier half of the year.

One no-fail option is to fill your home with plants, and literally have a part of nature alive in your home. The volumes written on the choosing and care of houseplants can fill a wall of shelves, but the basics remain the same: observe how much light a room gets, see which plants grow best with that amount, select the hardier specimens - especially if you are a beginner, and from that group pick what pleases you most.

If potted plants aren’t your thing, use the decorator’s secret and source out some convincing artificial plants. They may not replenish the air like their genuine counterparts, but I am convinced that they have the same soothing effect on the psyche. From a delicate orchid to a tall, potted palm, artificial plants can give you any look you want without the need to match plant to environment. My wife Margaret is particularly clever in mixing artificial blossoms with real cut stems to create bountiful centerpieces, especially during holidays. Sometimes she and our guests make a game out of trying to guess which blooms are real and which aren’t.

If it’s the smell of real flowers you miss, you can try to bring fragrance into your home through aromatherapy, potpourri or scented candles, but do take care that they are low in chemicals that you may not want to be breathing in.

But plants and flowers aren’t the only way to bring the sense of nature indoors. An organic feeling can also be built through the various textures of wood, stone, and other surfaces. You may be lucky and have these built into the structure of your home already, be they unique wood floor planks, exposed ceiling beams, or a stone fireplace. Otherwise, you can use smaller elements to the same effect.

To read the rest of this column, click here. Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester ( His real estate site is, and his blog is To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.


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Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I'm not sure I could ever live without a yard.  I love my flowers, but I also love my pets which means no plants inside. I do "container" garden on my deck to avoid my veggies being eaten by deer in my rural area.

Nov 02, 2015 03:54 AM #1
John Wiley
Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Bill, not everyone will be happy with indoor living. However, for those who have circumstances in their life that take away the choice, your suggestions could really make a difference. 


Nov 02, 2015 04:15 AM #2
Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert
Zion Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Broker/Owner of Zion Realty

I miss houseplants. I've noticed throughout the years as I'm showing homes, less and less households have plants in them. I wonder if it's a generational thing and they just aren't as popular anymore. 

Nov 02, 2015 05:42 AM #3
Certified Mobile Notary Signing Agent - Smith Mountain Lake, VA
Highest Ranked Certified Mobile Notary in Virginia

I had a small apartment at one time and I got some "store bought" firewood, you know, wrapped in plastic for a few bucks.   I put a stick in each room, under or behind furniture.   The aroma was better than any fragrance and reminded me of my parents wooded property. 

Nov 02, 2015 06:17 AM #4
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

I can relate to your early upbringing and love of the outdoors. I once purchased a waterfront condo and while the view was phenomenal, I missed having a yard. (My unit was on the second floor). After a couple of years, I sold and moved back into a single family detached residence, where I can plant flowers, mow grass, and smell the roses. Your suggestions will be helpful to those who choose condo life. But for me, give me grass, please!

Nov 02, 2015 07:59 AM #5
Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

I understand. I do not like house plants. but then I'm in So Cal where it's always summer. 

Nov 02, 2015 10:18 AM #6
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

Bringing house plants inside is a great idea. Also, those mini-waterfalls with rocks are nice also. 

Nov 02, 2015 08:30 PM #7
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Bill Primavera the outdoors is in us all and wanting it is the call of nature

Nov 02, 2015 10:25 PM #8
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Space... it is like air and water important to a rural country boy. With a don't fence me in, no boundary limitations that sparse populated areas feed oh oh so well! Everyone is different and the real estate markets are just as diverse. Thank goodness Bill Primavera !

Nov 03, 2015 07:22 AM #9
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Great suggestions for bringing the outside in.  I am going to suggest this post to clients who are wondering how bring the outside inside.

Nov 03, 2015 11:57 AM #10
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Bill Primavera well, there are seasons in life - and we need to adopt them accordingly!

Being a city boy, never liked yard - and now, living in a house with an acre of a land!

Soon it's going to change....

Nov 04, 2015 08:44 AM #11
Winston Heverly
Winston Realty, Inc. - Atlantis, FL

Loved your blog today, hope this becomes a eventful & successful start of the week.

Nov 09, 2015 12:18 PM #12
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