Biophilic Design: How to Restore Nature to Your Home

Biophilic Design: How to Restore Nature to Your Home

If any design trend proves that your surroundings can improve your well-being, it’s biophilic design. This “life-loving” approach to decorating uses natural elements to restore your sense of wellness. Here are 10 easy, impactful ways to refresh your interior with resemblances to the great outdoors.

What is Biophilic Design?

Biophilic design connects you to your space by blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces. When you mimic natural elements like live plants and greenery around your home, you experience the same calm and clarity you’d find in the wilderness.

Why Is Biophilic Design Important?

Biophilic design is about wholehearted contentment. In embracing the outdoors, we find freedom from our micromanaged lives and enclosed cubicles. Biophilic design encourages you to take a centering breath so you can build yourself back up.

In 2020’s chaotic world, we all need a space free from the fake and the frenetic. It’s more important than ever to have a safe haven where you can check in with yourself and just be. With biophilic design, lush greenery and calming hues create an environment where you can feel truly settled. The tranquility inspires a relaxed, creative state of mind. Surround yourself with nature’s authenticity, and you’ll experience an earnest belonging of being alive.

Pull in Lots of Plants

Plants are the driving element in the biophilic design trend. You can match any verdant vibe to your personality. For example, pair airy succulents with a pale neutral desert scheme for a modern minimalist look. Bring in the lush, leafy textures of ferns and fronds for a dense bohemian jungle motif. Potted plants or hanging plants — the arrangements are endless and the emotional benefits even more so.

Scatter Scenic Landscapes

Soothe your soul with natural images in artwork, pillows, rugs – any printed textile. Populating your interior with flora- and fauna-inspired images can remind you of that joy and energy that exists within the natural world.

Whether it’s a painting of a seascape or tropically patterned wallpaper, the intrigue of these images helps to reduce those feelings of isolation and stress that come from being boxed in. Think of it as “planting” seeds of happiness.

Destress With Natural Decor

Biophilic design taps into that intimacy we share with natural objects. For example, coastal decor captures the call of the wild with starfish, driftwood, and shells. Whether your “found” objects come straight from Mother Nature or echo her artful grace, the sculptural pieces you bring to your space can provide quick, meaningful symbols of life. You’ll feel more at peace with them around.

If the objects are from your region, even better. Reflecting your home’s exterior will help you feel like you’re participating in your environment. Think of how a ski lodge uses raw woodland elements pulled from its surroundings, like carved furniture, lamp bases, etc. That relationship helps forge an identity with your space both indoors and out.

Use Lively Colors

Because we spend so much time indoors, we feel a strong need to interact with things that share our precious existence. As a solution, color experts Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, and WGSN pulled inspo for their 2020 color decks from nature. Think restful oceanic blues, cheerful sunny yellows, and nourishing garden greens. Accent these deeper hues with carefree pops of fruity and floral pinks.

You can literally brighten your mood with a biophilic palette. You might ground the space with an earth-toned sofa or comforter and then enliven it with vibrantly colored throw pillows. Don’t worry about mixing and matching —these colors naturally coexist in happy harmony.

Stimulate Your Senses With Natural Lighting

Natural light is a big factor in maintaining wellness. As seasonal affective disorder proves, we crave daylight to feel fully functional. We respond to brightness with alertness and productivity, so try to bring healthy levels of lighting into your biophilic space. Minimizing darkness and harsh glares will inspire you to get more out of your day. Adding mirrors or decor elements with glass or metallic surfaces will reflect light and help disperse it around the room.

Dappled lighting is the light that’s filtered through foliage in woods and forests creating patches of light and shadow. It falls into biophilic design and can be easily replicated with different materials on lamps and pendants, even sheer curtains.

Combine Cozy Nooks and Open Air

Biophilic design is for those crave their cozy, cave-like comforts. It’s also for the bold adventurers who dream of tropical seas, rugged cliffsides, and dense forests. Both nesters and nomads love biophilia’s sense of presence. Whether it’s from a dimly lit den or a mountaintop in the open air, we appreciate long vistas to give us a sense of perspective. In biophilic design, this need for a view is a balance of prospect and refuge.

A prospect is a wide look onto a horizon. Create this exciting sense of spaciousness by building flow around an open floor plan or use transparent materials to maximize views. Even if you don’t have giant windows looking out onto a gorgeous setting, look for ways to create that seamless transition between indoor and outdoor spaces. This can be as simple as pulling back curtains.

For a feeling of refuge, build a comfy alcove where you won’t feel exposed, like a reading nook or dining booth. Having an outlook point where your back is protected helps to relieve tension.

Bring in Organic Shapes

Plants provide movement and texture to a space – they’re truly “a breath of fresh air.” Biophilic design expands that to all the complex shapes found in nature. Think live edge wood tables, cloud art, or any imperfect shapes that might replicate nonlinear flow. Branches, tendrils, etc. The smooth appeal of curves seen in ripples and grooves encourages our curiosity. Mismatched furniture can help to vary straight edges. This will help limit any sense of harsh angles or strict order.

Ventilate Your Space

Temperature and humidity can make a biophilic environment. Switching up the levels of both will have a positive impact on your psyche. It keeps your space from feeling stagnant. Varying sensory stimulation is physiologically revitalizing, so you engage more with your surroundings. Basically, when there’s not a lull in the atmosphere, you feel more awake.

While biophilic design offers distractions from modernity, technology offers opportunities to introduce liveliness to your space. Your skin responds to air flow, so keep your space from feeling stuffy by using a humidifier. Even the fragrance of herbs or blossoms from an essential oil diffuser can put you on the fast track to a better mood.

Embrace Natural Patterns

We respond to “biomorphic” patterns that occur naturally — things shaped like nature. Whether your idea of environmental bliss is an invigorating hike or a sandy snooze, you can incorporate forms from those landscapes into your space. You might add a headboard shaped like a clam shell or hang a sunburst mirror to reflect natural rays. Whether it’s a bird’s wing or snail spiral, a biomorphic pattern is mentally stimulating, so it creates a more satisfying space.

Rely on Organic Materials

Screens drain us. Ditch digitization for the strength and inspiration that comes from natural beauty. The sustainability of organic materials will help you to feel more fulfilled. There’s a layer of pretentiousness that’s removed by objects in their natural state. In a traditional interior, this might be accomplished through marble. Farmhouse interiors opt for a salvaged feel, with weathered woods and rough fabrics. Natural fiber rugs made out of jute or seagrass are versatile enough to blend with any style space.

Natural materials help your space feel effortless and genuine. Patinas are especially effective, because their aging serves as a reminder of nature’s phases and the passage of time. That being said, sleek and stained materials can still feel meditative. It all helps you to form a stronger bond with your space.

To explore what other trends can help create your happy place, check out our guide to 2020’s Top Home Decor Trends.