Connect With Nature Through Your Decor With Biophilic Design

Home Sweet Home is presented by The Washington State Housing Finance Commission

Have you ever dreamed of having a sanctuary where you could focus on your work and embrace your inner creativity? If your answer is “yes,” you may want to look into biophilic design.

This design technique taps into one of our deepest and most ancient years as humans. It helps us discover an inner peace by forging natural connections to plants.

What is Biophilic Design?

“Biophilia” is defined by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) as the “innate human instinct to connect with nature and other living beings.” More simply: it’s a fancy word for nature-lover. The term itself derives from the Greek words for “life” and “love,” which creates the translation: “love of life.”

Biophilic design transforms this concept into art using natural materials, patterns, and colors found in nature (eg, bamboo, natural light, indoor plants, rattan, etc.). Urban environments are often prime locations for biophilic design. Even so, this design technique is ubiquitous.

Photo: victor zastolskiy via 123RF

Benefits of Biophilic Design

Biophilic design isn’t just a trend; it’s a way of life. According to research conducted by the Healthy Building Program at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, biophilic design can help to improve your vital cognitive functions, reduce stress, and ease anxiety. Biophilic design is good for the environment too! This 2021 study shows that living wall systems (a wall or vertical structure covered in greenery) reduce heat loss and double as power shades against direct sunlight. (A win-win for cold winters and hot, muggy summers.)

Additionally, biophilic design is an investment. According to The Economics of Biophilia: Why Designing with Nature in Mind Makes Financial Sense, a report created by the sustainability consulting firm Terrapin Bright Green, biophilic design has saved money through reduced energy costs and greater employee satisfaction (fewer turnover costs). Biophilic design has also increased profits for many business owners, thanks to increased worker productivity.

Bringing Biophilic Design Into Your Home

Certain studies suggest that the average American spends 93% of their life indoors, 87% in buildings, and 6% in a vehicle. These conditions mean most people spend a mere 7% of their entire life outside, approximately one-half day per week. That’s pretty bad. What’s worse? According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air quality may be up to five times worse indoors than outdoors.

Poor air quality combined with day-to-day stress sounds like a recipe for disaster, but the good news is that there are things you can do to bring biophilic design into your home — no matter its size or your geographical location.

Here are a few ways to get started:

Natural light: If you have large windows and/or glass doors in your home, clean the glass and move any curtains or blinds out of the way. If your home lacks large windows, you can create the illusion of natural light using mirrors. You can also make strategic paint color choices (light greys) and minimize your decor. Rule of thumb: Keep it bright and airy.
Greenery: You don’t need to be a horticulturist to add a bit of greenery to your home. Something as simple as an herb garden or a faux plant can help make your living space feel more lively. However, if you choose to use houseplants, you may want to start with something hard to kill, like Pothos or a Snake Plant.
Natural colors: Consider using calming blues, warm yellow hues, or vibrant greens throughout your home. Natural wood grains (eg, flooring, trim, furniture, etc.) also help to add texture.
Biophilic design is about connecting with nature within your home, workplace, or any other indoor environment. This connection could involve decorating your office with houseplants, hanging photos of trees or the ocean in your bedroom, or installing a water feature in your living room.

Home Sweet Home is brought to you by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission’s Washington Homeowner Assistance Fund. The Homeowners Assistance Fund helps homeowners who have fallen on hard times because of the pandemic. Call 1-877-894-4663 for more information on how they can help.

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