Nightingale saw the art of nursing as providing an environment in which patients were offered the best conditions for nature to act upon them. However, we still have limited research-based understandings of care settings experienced as supportive by patients, significant others and staff. The aim of this study was to construct a theoretical understanding of processes contributing to supportive care settings. The authors used grounded theory design and the constant comparative method to analyse theoretically sampled interview and observational data from three different contexts of care. The tentative theory conceptualizes supportive care settings as sensing an atmosphere of ease, and five categories were recognized: experiencing welcoming; recognizing oneself in the environment; creating and maintaining social relations; experiencing a willingness to serve; and experiencing safety. Having one's expectations of the environment exceeded was a mediating factor in sensing an atmosphere of ease. Sensing an atmosphere of ease facilitated experiences of being able to locate oneself in familiar and safe surroundings; being able to follow one's own rhythm; being seen, acknowledged and cared about; and having possibilities of benefiting from beauty and contacts with others.