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At Piaule, a chic upstate New York retreat where the “rooms” are actually sleek prefab wood cabins, there’s a special feature that puts you even closer to nature: a fourth wall that’s actually a floor-to-ceiling window with a direct view into the forest. Even the spa’s hot tub has an opening where you can ogle nature while getting a good soak. 

And that’s all intentional, because the founders, Trevor Briggs and Nolan McHugh, who both live in New York City, wanted the outdoors to be a big part of the experience—as much as what’s inside each cabin. “We always kind of point to this one guiding principle, which is that you’re there to experience nature,” Briggs says. “Even with the interiors; its purpose is to make sure nothing distracts you from that.” 

And in some cases, they use nature as a jumping-off point for their interior palettes. For example, the blue tile in the bathroom is a callout to the hotel’s location on a bluestone quarry. The surrounding oak trees inspired the wood paneling. And the lobby’s terracotta Gianfranco Frattini sofas resemble fall’s vivid leaves.

Similarly, the pair didn’t look far from what was around them when it came to landscaping. You’ll only find native plants dotting the property. For example, outside the lobby, two native grasses—little bluestem and switchgrass—mingle year-round and surround a patio to dazzling effect—but also to create a visual barrier. (The good news? It’s easy to replicate this at home, and it can even replace a fence altogether.) 

Not only is it more sustainable to plant native species, the founders say that it honors the land. “Every piece of land, particularly in the U.S. and the Northeast, has gone through so many stages of use and abuse, especially post-colonization, so it’s hard to find something that’s truly natural or wild,” says McHugh. “But as much as possible, we try to look at what would bring it back to a natural state but also be beautiful.” To do that, they only planted new greenery that was native to the area, a sustainable choice as well.

And they’re quick to point out that it’s not something you can rush; an apt metaphor for a lot of things in life: “It’s an ongoing process,” McHugh says. “You have to be patient. One thing it’s taught us is that you can throw a lot of money at landscaping, but it will look manufactured. The only thing that will keep it beautiful and enduring is patience.”