Nature—especially birds and their amazing plumage—is one of the most delicious places to find a color palette for your home.

One of the most enjoyable things you might do for yourself on a snowy or cloudy January day is bird-watch from a window in your home. I have a fond and overwhelming love for cardinals—my favorite bird sighting. My Mom often said that she had never seen such brilliant and vivid colors as the cardinals in Kansas wore. Many a day, after a day at the shop, I'd find her armed with binoculars and my bird identifying book, sitting at our kitchen table and enjoying the view. What a wonderful way to lull a day away.

Nature—especially birds and their amazing plumage—is one of the most delicious places to find a color palette for your home. I agree with my Mom that the feathers of the cardinal are spectacular! Besides being such a joy to see, here are a few interesting facts about cardinals for you fellow bird-watchers:

Cardinals do not migrate; they are with us 12 months out of the year.

Cardinal eggs hatch in 12 days.

Cardinal parents are both involved in the care of their offspring.

Have you ever noticed that cardinals are always at the top of a tree as they call out “cheer, cheer”! They are beauties and they know it!

The red color of cardinals is a symbol of faith, reminding us to keep the faith even when circumstances look bleak, dark and hopeless.

In nature, 12 is considered a powerful cycle, representing the spectrum of the seasons and the full circle of life. There are 12 hours in a day, 12 hours of night, 12 months in a year. Don’t tell me we don’t have a greater power than us orchestrating this world—don’t even try!

I have to conclude that these beauties of nature are worth your full attention when they make a visit to your yard!

So, if you’re feeling a bit of cabin fever, maybe a bird feeder is just the thing for you! You can find wonderful ones that attach to your window, offering a front-row seat to witness this winter wonder. (Plus, birds will enjoy the buffet you provide!) Hardware stores, specialty bird-watching shops and online sites dedicated to the joy of watching and feeding wild birds are all great sources for bird feeders. Back Yard Chirper a web site have some wonderful feeders!

Circle of Life

I have been in the world of interior design for a very long time—a very long time! In that time, I have watched trends come and go and come back again! One of the most recent and delightful trends is the abundance of wildlife being used in our interiors. I have my theories on this movement (I always have theories!). Let me share with you what I think is driving this trend.

Our world has become a somewhat scary place over the past few years, with 9/11, global warming and tragically mass shootings. As humans, we search for things that take the sting out of what we can’t control. We find ways to give ourselves some comfort, including turning to nature for that gentle vision of contentment that makes all the sense in the world. What is more delightful than a field of new born calves in the spring, or a Mother duck with a string of ducklings following her to the pond. Who doesn’t stop what you are doing when you see a handsome red fox or a herd of deer jumping a farmer’s fence with ease? These are the moments that take your breath away. These events make us feel good and they cost nothing. It is a clear sign that the world still has so much beauty to offer!

So what do we do? We bring these peaceful elements into our homes: the bird pictures, the pen-and-ink drawing of a beautiful stag, the gentle photo of a mother horse feeding her colt. If any of this type of art hangs from your walls, you know the serenity you feel when viewing them (and that might very well be the reason you purchased them!). If you don’t have this type of art into your home, I strongly urge you to start searching for a piece or two. These pieces will forever make your heart full of joy and thankfulness for being one with the world. So, gorgeous, go locate yourself a beautiful piece of art with nature as the focus. I promise you will thank yourself!

Color Your World

Let’s take this nature idea a bit further into the world of interior design. If you’re considering making some color palette changes to your home, look to a book on birds and study the color combinations within our fine feathered friends. If you love French Country design—so fresh and colorful that you beam just thinking of the possibilities—look to the red shining parrot for inspiration. Nature makes no mistakes, and this beauty is worth a visit to the library to see a glorious picture in an Audubon Society book! Take the kids along with you! You'll discover design magic in bird books and the kids are detached from electronic devices for a while! Can't go wrong with this winter outing.

Some winter days can be almost too cold to even venture out—other than to grab the Gazette! So start thinking of changes you can make in your home that will bring some comfort as well as a jolt of joy and color to your winter world. I recently bought a snow globe from a company called Big Trike! It features a cardinal and it has given me such delight. I shake it up and watch my sweet cardinal in the glittery snow! Simple pleasures are the best sometimes. The globe rests on a stack of books on a side table, and I dutifully shake that global delight several times a day. You forget how wonderful unpretentious little things like a snow globe can be. Perhaps, gorgeous, you might treat yourself to one soon! It is quite possible you even have a couple tucked away! Pull them out and use them as an everyday accessory in your home! Magic!

The effects of being tucked into your home all winter can start to make days feel long and gloomy, but that needn’t happen to you. A few simple changes in the events of your day can make a sudden smile sweep across your face, and soon there is a bounce in your step! So, here is my prescription on design for you this week: Take a large dose of Mother Nature into your day, watch a bird from your kitchen window, bundle up and take a walk in the pursuit of hearing a flock of Canadian geese overhead, or allow yourself the leisure of quietly enjoying a book on baby animals. While you enjoy these moments with nature, ideas will suddenly pop in your brain and you’ll soon be searching for a needlepoint pillow of a Canadian goose for the bench in the entryway or maybe reupholstering the antique chair in the bay window with a print of the chickadee you saw this morning while bird-watching. Every little flash of something that engaged your interest can result in a bit of magic that you, so lovely, can add to your home.

I will end this week with a Chinese proverb:

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. –Chinese Proverb

I will be here next week!

Jan Colvin has been a professional interior designer for over 25 years (Allied ASID). She accredits her mother Pat Robinson and Lucille Chase for her intense interest and love for design. 

She has taught interior design at the college level and operated her private design business since 2001. Today she spends a majority of her time completing her new book which will be available in the first quarter of 2013.

Jan welcomes questions, which will be answered in her columns. Send your questions to: