When Susie Frazier was diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety in 2016, things finally started to make sense. It explained why the reclamation artist and designer’s mind often raced, why she was fueled by nervous energy and why she’d spent 20 years developing her own coping mechanisms. It all started in 1997 when a desire to work with her hands inspired her to quit her desk job. She began creating art from found building materials and discovered that channeling her energy into physical work helped her relax. Eventually, Frazier’s art began utilizing such natural materials as collected bark and driftwood. “Being in the woods and on the beach was very calming,” she says. Disconnecting from the sensory overload of modern life and connecting with nature was her key to finding Zen. So Frazier began incorporating natural elements and patterns into her interior design to bring those calming vibes into the home too.
“Then research came out from the architecture industry on how decorating with natural elements and integrating them into built environments is proven to reduce anxiety,” she says. “It slows down your biorhythms. It genuinely has this calming effect.” With science backing what she had discovered through trial and error, Frazier shows how to create mental well-being at home with the nature-infused design tips in Designing for Wellness, her book which debuted in late November. Here’s how to use her principles in your own home.
Integrate Tactile Elements
Frazier recommends placing rocks, shells or other natural objects in a place where people can touch them. “Not only does it calm us and give us something to keep our fingers busy, but it also activates other sensory parts of our life,” she says. “Having tactile elements in the home is my subliminal way of teaching people: Be here and now, be with each other, be connected to your earth and yourself.”
Disconnect From The Noise
Creating an uncluttered spot that serves as a sanctuary is vital for resting from our hectic lives. “Noise isn’t just sound — it’s visual noise. Our brains process that just like any other thing that we’re trying to organize,” she says. “I think of stepping away from that consumerism that feels like you’ve got to have a knickknack on every ledge.”
Choose Art That Holds Meaning
“Maybe you like being in nature and you love pictures of the outdoors,” says Frazier. “Maybe you have a special place in your heart for your home country, so you want art by artists who are from that place because it’ll remind you of home.”
Bring The Outside In
It can be as extensive as a live-edge table or as simple as Frazier’s driftwood candles. “People love bringing in driftwood from their walks on the beach, and I’ve seen people literally put sand on their table, put the driftwood there and rest their own pillar candles on it in vases,” she says. “It’s just so fun to make a setting that feels like you’re outside, but now inside.”