There is a growing interest in the use of virtual and other mediated environments for therapeutic purposes. However, in the domain of restorative environments, virtual reality (VR) technology has hardly been used. Here the tendency has been to use mediated real environments, striving for maximum visual realism. This use of photographic material is mainly based on research in aesthetics judgments that has demonstrated the validity of this type of simulations as representations of real environments. Thus, restoration therapy is developing under the untested assumption that photorealistic images have the optimal level of realism, while in therapeutic applications 'experiential realism' seems to be the key rather than visual realism. The present paper discusses this contrast and briefly describes data of three studies aimed at exploring the importance and meaning of realism in the context of restorative environments.