6 Ways to Bring Nature into Your Nursing Home

Today, the most prominent trend for nursing home design is to include nature-focused décor.

Did you know about 1.5 million people in the US live in nursing homes? And with some Baby Boomers approaching 80 years old, the demand for nursing homes will continue to rise, along with this trend in interior design.

Why are natural elements so important in nursing homes? What are some options that offer value without breaking the bank? And what are the benefits of including them?

Read further to answer these questions and more!

Why All Nursing Homes Should Have Natural Elements

Your staff can care for the physical needs of your residents, but how can you improve their mental state?

We believe that bringing nature into your nursing home is a solution.

In the late 1970s, Dr. Edward O. Wilson expanded on the concept of biophilia. This theory underlines humans’ innate desire to connect with nature. And in today’s hectic, tech-filled world, this is more important than ever.

And research suggests that nature-focused décor offers mental and physical benefits to those in healthcare facilities.

Ideas for Bringing Nature into Nursing Homes

You know that nature in nursing homes is important, but what type of décor is best? And what are some ways to implement them?

Below are 6 affordable ways to bring nature into your nursing home in 2023 and beyond.

Natural Sunlight

open window letting in sunlight

According to Healthline, exposure to sunlight increases the release of serotonin in our brains, which helps lift our moods. But in a long-term care facility, many residents don’t get enough sunlight. This can result in feelings of stress, sadness, and depression.

Combat this by letting in more natural light during the day and increasing internal light in the evening.

Renovating entire rooms and adding large windows is not cheap. Thankfully, there are many ways to amplify the amount of light in a room, without emptying your budget:

  • Decorative mirrors
  • Shiny light fixtures
  • Thin window treatments
  • Frequently washing the windows
  • Furniture with chrome or other reflective accents
  • Furniture or walls with colors that bounce light
  • Remove any clutter that’s blocking windows

Take a look around your nursing home. Are there any areas that could benefit from reflective materials? Or, do some windows have objects blocking any light?

Natural Color Palletes

different shades of green color swatches

Incorporating certain colors in a room can alter the way residents feel while in it.

What are the most popular colors used in nursing homes? Warner Design Associates specializes in senior living interior design, and they listed the six most popular colors, along with the mental benefits associated with each:

  • Green – Promotes healing and relaxation
  • Blue – Promotes peacefulness and reduced stress
  • White – Hope, spirituality, calmness
  • Yellow – Associated with happiness
  • Red – Signifies strength and alertness
  • Brown – Stimulates balance

These are the emotional responses for most people, but these same colors can also produce negative reactions. It may take extra research and strategy for effective color placement.

Not sure where to start? Here are four tips for implementing your strategic colors.

Nature-Focused Art

serenity aquarium near a hanging painting of a landscape

Add some extra color and character to a room with pictures and paintings of nature. It may offer more health benefits than you think.

A report by CEConnection outlines the main purposes of art, especially in healthcare settings:

  • Healing
  • Decreased stress
  • Positive distractions
  • Branding (Improves perception of a nursing home, hospital, etc.)
  • Fosters a more homelike environment
  • Way Finding (Prominent pieces of art for landmarks)

In the same report, Robert Ulrich, director of the Center of Health Systems and Design at Texas A&M, found that patients who viewed pictures of nature during their hospital stay needed weaker painkillers than those who viewed abstract art or nothing at all.

Conversely, those who viewed abstract, ambiguous, provocative, or surreal images were more likely to experience anxiety, fear, and stress.

For the best results, consider nature-focused artwork such as:

  • Landscapes
  • Waterscapes
  • Peaceful animals
  • Colorful flowers
  • Positive and familiar cultural artifacts

Large Fish Tank

nursing home residents observing a serenity aquarium

Fish Tanks are more than a decoration, especially in nursing homes and memory care units.

Studies have shown that interaction with aquariums can reduce stress, improve sleep, improve nutritional intake, and decrease disruptive behaviors among memory-loss patients.

Residents in nursing homes enjoy relaxing in common areas and watching the wonderful fish swim around. Additionally, watching a fish tank doesn’t need planning, safety measures, or extra training. This makes it an easy and fun activity for residents and staff, alike.

Having a large, healthy fish tank may be less work than you think. By leasing an aquarium through Serenity, your nursing home will receive a custom-built aquarium, a collection of exotic fish, décor, and aquarium services to handle all cleaning and maintenance.

Spacious Bird Aviary

bird aviary in the corner of a room in a nursing home

Studies show that watching and listening to birds can reduce stress, encourage engagement, and improve mental wellbeing among nursing home residents.

Because of these benefits, staff members encourage residents to relax around their aviary and enjoy the sights and sounds of their wonderful finches.

In fact, about 40 million Americans say they enjoy watching birds, with almost a quarter of them being over 65 years old. Given this data, do you think an indoor aviary can boost your resident’s moods?

Our aviary leasing options also include the unit, décor, livestock, and aviary services to take care of all cleaning, maintenance, and bird health checks.

Plants and Flowers

serenity aviary with potted plants and other natural decor

By placing plants in your nursing home, you can improve the moods of residents and staff. A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that interaction with indoor plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress.

This is accomplished through the suppression of sympathetic nervous system activity and diastolic blood pressure. In other words, seeing, touching, and smelling living plants promote feelings of comfort and health.

Moreover, flowers are decorations that won’t empty your wallet and they take very little planning to put in place. And besides watering them regularly, upkeep is very simple.


Each of these natural features can make people feel healthier or happier in some way. Plus, aquariums and aviaries can be used for relaxing activities.

Based on your nursing home’s budget and space requirements, some of these options will be better suited than others.

Nonetheless, we feel it’s important to incorporate at least a few of these natural elements. Those that do are rewarded with a more uplifting experience throughout their entire nursing home.