I often dream of having a backyard. A spacious, shady backyard lined with towering bamboo that makes soothing, rustling sounds in the wind. In the middle of my backyard, I’d have two willow trees, spaced apart just enough to support a hammock. The backyard would be grassy but there would also be a few plots of dirt so I could give gardening a stab; maybe I'd grow cucumbers for pickling. If this fantasy backyard was in the right climate, there’s no doubt I’d have avocado trees.
But I don’t have a backyard ... not even close. I live in a fourth-floor walk-up apartment in Brooklyn. The closest I get to backyard-dom is when I’m allowed guest privileges at the neighborhood community garden or when I visit one of NYC’s public parks.
If you’re like me and live sans backyard, bringing the outdoors inside through interior design is often a way to make up for not having a personal green patch. Keeping houseplants is an obvious start but sometimes you gotta add a little flair. The following items will make that game of pretend-backyard-in-the-city all the more stylin'.
Duross & Langel Monkey Grass Soy Candle @ Duross & Langel ($24/7.5 oz)
Philadelphia-based savonnier Duross & Langel's line of 100 percent soy wax (no petro fillers or artificial frangrances) candles come in a wide range of intriguing, intricate scents like Basil Lime, Linen, and Grapefruit. It's the Monkey Grass scent, however, that with a little imagination (and closed eyes) will transport you straight to the freshly mowed backyard of your dreams.
Ideaco Modern in Wilderness Animals @ A + R Store ($52 each)
Although rhinos and hippos aren't a common sight in most backyards, these charming statuettes of two endangered critters inject a bit of exotic wilderness into the modern home. Although they're made in Japan from heavyweight polystone (a material often found in countertops), the cause that the sale of these small renderings of big beasts supports is green as can be: A portion of proceeds is donated to the Japanese Committee of ICUN. Available in black or white.
Recycled Modern Cardboard Stag Mount @ Pop Deluxe ($28)
Although more common around inhabited areas than rhinos and hippos, seeing a deer in your backyard isn't an every day occurrence. This 3D puzzle is made from laser-cut recycled cardboard and is much less creepy than a taxidermy trophy. Plus, no animals were harmed in the process.
SUNNAN solar-powered work lamps @ IKEA ($19.99)
Many of the offerings from IKEA's fabulous new solar lighting line are meant for exteriors. Darn it. SUNNAN Work Lamps, however, are ideal for sunlight-filled home offices. Available in various colors.
Fauna Squirrel pillow @ Daytrip Society ($48)
FLOR Green Acres Tile @ CB2 ($9.95)
FLOR, a company with deep environmental commitments, brings the outdoors inside with Green Acres tiles. These Astroturf-esque, modular, recyclable flooring tiles are a playful alternative to run-of-the-mill carpets and rugs. FLOR's DIY-oriented tiling system lets you to cover as much or as little space as needed. Each tile is 9.7 sq. inches.
Graham & Brown Rainforest Wallpaper @ 2Modern ($60/1 roll)
Transform a blah room into a living space fit for even Mowgli with Graham & Brown's Rainforest Wallpaper. The wallpaper, from G&B;'s Eco-Collection, is inspired by nature (obviously) and made with sustainable materials.
Brave Space Design Coat Range @ Design Public ($195)
For folks who crave mountain views but instead have scenic views of um, air shafts, this one's for you. Brave Space Design's Coat Range adds a bit of Alpine spice to any cluttered entryway. The rack is made from FSC certified maple.