Ever since I’ve started my journey into becoming an Interior Designer, I have found myself becoming more and more drawn to nature and how we incorporate this into our home. I’ll be honest with you, I had not even heard the term Biophilic design until about 6 months ago and I immediately knew this was the style I felt most passionate about. I absolutely love nature, plants, flowers, natural light and the peace and tranquilities that nature brings.
If you were to compile your dream home, what would be in your top 5? I am almost certain that most people would include a house with a view, whether that be the sea, countryside or trees. But, for most of us, this isn’t possible and we have to contend with a view of someone else’s house (or in my case, the back of a Thai takeaway. Not easy on the eye but great on the nose!)
In the UK we spend around 90% of our day on average indoors even though we have a basic human need to connect with nature. We’ve become an indoor nation, whether that be in the office, watching TV at home, sitting in the car or spending hours on public transport commuting.
Connecting with nature is extremely important for our health and well being. By bringing it into our homes, we are creating a space that is not only beautiful, but can also play a huge part on our mental health. Here are 10 steps on how to incorporate biophilic design into our homes.
1. Fresh Air
It might sound simple but, just by opening a window or leaving a back door open to let the fresh air in can get rid of that “stuffy” feeling when you are indoors. It also allows you to connect with the outside by listening to the birds or hearing the rain.
One of my favourite things is hearing a thunderstorm outside whilst tucked up in bed. I still feel connected to nature but without having to get wet!
2. Natural Light
Having access to daylight not only helps our circadian rhythm, it also makes us feel good! Unless it is really hot, we are automatically attracted to warm, sunny spaces and this is the same indoors. Maximise the amount of light in your home by keeping windows and doors clear and curtains and blinds open and placing mirrors around your home to reflect lots of light.
If you work from home, place your desk in front of a window to help the light keep you attentive. Create an outdoor working space in your garden or back yard and make the most of it in the warmer months. If you are planning a renovation or extension, place large windows and doors on the south or west facing walls.
3. Bring Natural Materials into the Home
Try and use natural materials such as wood, marble, stone, bamboo, granite, rattan and cork in the home. This can be anything from furniture, to shelving, kitchen worktops to tiles. I think wood, bamboo and rattan are fabulous furniture materials due to their perfectly imperfect pattern and patina.
4. Add some plants!
Probably the most obvious choice when it comes to Biophilic design! But this is more than putting a potted plant on your coffee table. Plants increase oxygen levels and can help with concentration and productivity. If you are forever killing off plants, start with something simple like succulents, a spider plant or Devil’s ivy! They are pretty forgiving towards neglect. Perhaps try and start growing your own herbs and create a herb garden in your kitchen.
I have written a blog post on some of the easiest plants to look after here and if that still doesn’t help you, introduce artificial plants. You might not get the health benefits that real plants bring, but they still add a touch of nature to a room.
5. Install a green wall
If you’ve already got the plants but want to take it to the next level, install a green wall! This can be anything from putting up a number of shelves to put your plants on, or create a living or artificial wall in your home. This is such a great way to add greenery to your home and make a real feature of a wall.
6. Natural shapes
Many homes, offices and public spaces are designed with straight lines and right angles and can look quite severe. In contrast, nature is made up of complex patterns, curves and soft edges. Choose furniture that is curved and add plenty of textiles to soften those sharp edges like curtains for the windows (but also making sure you are able to tie them back to let lots of natural light in).
Add cushions, linen, organic wool or faux sheepskins to drape over dining room chairs, benches and sofas to give a room a natural cosiness.
7. Natural colour
Don’t be afraid to use colour in the home! The outdoor world has an abundance of colour, from the beautiful deep blue of the sky in summer, to the yellow of the daffodils in Spring. The colour green automatically makes me happy and I love pairing it with soft pink, probably from my love of pink peonies! A bit like how Cuprinol use nature’s neutrals and nature’s brights in the garden (see my blog post on this here), I think it is best to have the same principals in your home.
Go for nature’s neutrals like creams, browns, soft greens, blues and pinks on bigger items like furniture and walls and compliment it with nature’s brights such as yellow, teal, bright pinks and zesty greens for soft furnishings and artwork.
8. Seamless transition from inside to out
Many of us are now looking at our garden as another room or outdoor living space and blurring the boundary between where the house ends and the garden begins. Cosy and inviting corner sofas are popping up on stencilled patios and pergolas and summer houses are becoming the popular setting for an evening G & T. It doesn’t matter how big or small your garden is, you can utilise this space to help you connect with nature as much as possible.
Not only is water calming to look at and watch, the sound of the waves crashing at the beach or a fountain trickling can help to decrease stress, increase concentration and automatically make you feel connected to nature. If you are not lucky enough to live by the sea or a lake, you can install a pond with fountain that you can hear from the inside of your house, a water feature (and there are a huge selection these days, some are solar powered so fantastic for the environment) or a small aquarium.
If you don’t fancy such a large project, try adding a bird bath to your garden. The splashes from the birds enjoying the water is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face!
10. Nature inspired art work
If all this seems just a little too much for your home, introduce nature into your home by adding pieces of art. I love abstract art, but I also have a lot of floral inspired pieces dotted throughout my house and they beautifully tie the colour scheme of the room together. This can be anything from framed nature prints, botanical wall hangings to large floral wallpaper murals.
I think more designers and home owners are realising what an impact adding natural aspects to your environment can have. Furniture made out of natural materials such as wood and stone have a longer shelf life, therefore saving money and being better for the planet over time.
In the home, biophilic design can create a calm atmosphere, make you feel good and increase creativity, positivity and productivity. What element do you think you will introduce into your home?