10 Ways to Embrace Biophilic Design in Your Home

by CUBICOON

Do you want your home to embrace nature? 

Did you know that on average, we spend 90% of our time indoors? Yes, you read that right. Some jobs might require others to go out more but around the world, this number is pretty much accurate. 

That’s why the biophilic design concept was invented.

And that’s also why it’s a growing and very popular trend today. 

Stemming from the word ‘biophilia’ which means love of nature. The principles of biophilic design aim to restore our dwindling connection with nature and the outdoors in this built environment. Strengthening visual connection with Mother Nature, ensuring this constant connection also brings a wealth of positive effects to our wellbeing, productivity and physical and mental health. 

You can follow the biophilic design concept in your home. 

Apart from making it sustainable, you’ll slowly begin to feel and appreciate the positive impacts it will have on your daily life too. Here’s how you can do it. 

Covered outdoor space with a big tree adding to its shade

Photo source: Design Milk

1. Welcome fresh air

Being near nature means being surrounded by and breathing in fresh air – a very important element that you can’t do without. Encouraging airflow in your home and considering how it moves inside is a significant part of embracing the biophilic design concept. 

The easiest way is to crack open a window – the bigger, the better. If you have floor-to-ceiling doors, open this up to connect with the outdoors. Consequently, you blur the lines with the outside and create a refreshing indoor-outdoor flow. These wider openings also help you hear the random sounds of nature. 

If it’s raining and you don’t feel like opening the windows, a fan is another option. Give your space a soft breeze, imitating that of an opened window. 

A home with giant palm trees in its courtyard and almost invisible indoor outdoor barriers

Photo source: HomeWorldDesign

2. Flood your home with natural light

Another element you can’t do without is light – natural light. Maximize your home’s natural light to follow and observe nature’s flow from day to night and back. This also helps you stay in tune with your circadian rhythm and live healthier. 

Before redecorating, renovating or building your home, assess where and how the light touches different parts of your land. Through this process, you’ll better optimize how light enters your indoor space and where best to place your windows or skylights.

Very bright open space layout with exposed brick for its walls

Photo source: Design Inspiration

Similarly, this knowledge helps you arrange your space depending on how you wish to celebrate different lights throughout a day. You may prefer friendly morning light while you’re having breakfast, or afternoon sun in your work from home space and the dimmed light of dusk on your balcony. Plan the layout of your home for more pleasanter moments in a day by optimizing the use and benefits of natural light.

Apart from the sun, you’ll also have to keep layered lighting in mind. This is through the use of different lighting options that may define your space and influence your mood. Experiment with the use of sconces, overhead lighting, cove lights, warm lights, candles  or floor lamps. Artificial lights won’t feel fake if you have control over how it changes throughout the day or floods a certain space. 

If you’re really hoping to maximize natural light or have it touch hard-to-reach areas, try incorporating some glass and mirrors or reflective surfaces that can let light bounce off it.

A minimalist and brightly-lit home with a tree in its living room

Photo source: Dwell

3. Decorate with plants

Have you ever wondered why you feel happier when surrounded by plants or greenery? If looking at images of nature already gives your mood a slight boost, imagine how much better it will be to see and feel the real thing. 

Probably the easiest move you can do when incorporating biophilic design into your home is to infuse it with indoor plants. The more you can put without overwhelming your space, the better. If you’re feeling it, you can even have a green wall. Otherwise, simple touches of green here and there should suffice. Lucky you if you have a garden or a large backyard, then there’s a whole lot more room to play around with. 

Bathroom filled with plants and looking like a spa

Photo source: The Design Sheppard

Plants are not only aesthetically pleasing, they also bring all the positive psychological impacts of nature. You’ll almost instantly feel relaxed, de-stressed and reenergized. They can also purify the air, allowing you cleaner air amidst a polluted built environment. Plus, taking care of your plant babies gives you a tiny sense of purpose. 

10 Ways to Embrace Biophilic Design in Your Home | CUBICOON

4. Use natural materials

Along the same lines of bringing some of those greenery in, the idea also covers the materials you use for your furniture, decor and flooring. The more you welcome natural elements into your home, the more you embrace the biophilic design concept.

The imperfections you encounter on natural decor mimics those you see in the natural environment. If you use elements like wood, bamboo, or stone, you bring those randomness into the design of your home, making it raw and natural. 

In this modern built environment, it helps the environment when we are more conscious of the materials we choose. And biophilic design is all about sustainability. Many brands and architectural practices around the world are starting to embrace this growing trend.

Using wood and its imperfections to decorate a small corner of a home

Photo source: Living Room Ideas

5. Play with organic shapes 

When you welcome the randomness of nature, be open to play around organic shapes. When in nature, you encounter varying patterns and structure. While having indoor plants is the easiest first step in achieving biophilia, these diverse forms and details also feed our needs.

In limited spaces, smaller areas or rooms that do not get a lot of natural light, incorporate nature’s shapes instead. Nature is all about curved edges, soft rounds, and small imperfections. Seeing these biomorphic patterns gives our mind and body a level of comfort and delight. 

Photo source: The Design Sheppard

Natural shapes and forms include botanical and animal forms like trees, leaf, foliage, insects, and other species. In design, ornamentation and structures suggestive of a natural shape like wings, tree columns, clouds, also achieve the biophilic effect. 

If those elaborate carvings are not possible, there are other simpler options. For furniture like sofas, chairs or tables, opt for rounded corners or soft smooth edges. Something as simple as having a wallpaper of tree branches and flowers might also help. Selecting lighting is easier because of the array of design choices but always go for imperfect forms like hand-blown glass or bent wood types. 

Green wall standing out against a white and brown living space

Photo source: Home Stratosphere

6. Beautify with nature’s colors

As you embrace nature’s shapes and materials, consider its colors too. Nature’s colors cover the entire spectrum, every shade and pantone. Every season brings such a wide breadth of colors – even the changing shades from day and night is amazing to witness. 

Don’t be afraid of using bold colors in your home. If you’re quite hesitant to paint an entire space or room, an accent wall works perfectly fine. Or you can opt for a less permanent option like a wallpaper – there are many styles that are inspired by nature. 

Wallpaper design that uses the colors of ocean waves

Photo source: Forest Homes

Nature’s colors to consider are soft forest greens, light cerulean hues, soft lemon yellows, warm white or light grays and browns following the color of wood, even bright orange, deep blues and many more. In this process, you’ll discover that people usually gravitate towards colors that they associate with a positive experience in nature. 

These colors will have an impact on your mood and behavior, no matter how small the space you cover it with. Each color has a different effect, many consider it a mood-influencing design element. So, make sure you choose colors you want and associate with positively.

Accent wall with varying colors of the ocean's blue and uneven design that looks like fish scales

Photo source: Home & Decor Singapore

7. Bring in the sound of water

Light sounds of water have the power to calm. Like how spending time in blue spaces – the beach and coast – can immediately relax your mind. Soft sounds of waves and water flowing creates a soothing atmosphere that leads to a peaceful state in mind and body.

If you’re living in a small apartment or home, having a small water feature will do the trick. Otherwise, if you have a backyard or garden with a larger area to play with, incorporating a small pond would be an interesting design project. You can listen to the soft trickle of water all day long and even transform it into a focal point of your outdoor space. 

Small pool connected to the indoor living area

Photo source: nolisoli

8. Emphasize the outdoor view

Another way for your home to follow the biophilic concept is by incorporating as large a view of the outdoors as possible. According to the principles of biophilic design, this follows the perception of protection and prospect. Being in nature evokes feelings of possibility and growth. By having an unimpeded view of the outside, it makes your space feel more open and free while still being safe and protected. 

10 Ways to Embrace Biophilic Design in Your Home | CUBICOON

You can achieve this by having large windows – floor-to-ceiling if you can – positioned where you can have wide views, with the least buildings blocking it. Having high ceilings is also another way; best done in your living area. Another option is to create lofts or verandas indoors to give yourself more expansive views at an elevated position.

If you can achieve security and opportunity in your ‘empty’ spaces at home, these provide healthy psychological benefits. It helps alleviate stress, remove boredom and irritation and fatigue. 

High ceiling living room with tall windows and natural finishes on walls

Photo source: Decoholic

9. Stimulate all your senses

Nature is unpredictable. It overflows with uncontrolled and diverse situations and elements. At times when we’re outside or immersing ourselves in the great outdoors, we react to this highly variable environment through the use of our innate sensory systems. 

As such, a multi-sensory space best embraces biophilic design. 

Using plants to stimulate the senses

Photo source: Treehugger

When you decorate with plants and flowers, seeing them makes you happy but being able to smell the flowers is a delight. Maximizing natural light and letting fresh air in allows you to feel the touch of the breeze and heat of the sun on your skin. Additionally, with the water feature, you hear the soft movement and flow of water. 

At home, when you stimulate your senses, you break away from the predictable visual appeal and help make your home and yourself feel more alive. 

10. Display images of nature

As a final touch, put up images of nature on your otherwise bare walls. If you can’t have that wide, expansive view or large spacious indoor spaces, the next best way to see nature is through art.  

Hang portraits and paintings that depict the image of nature – whether it be forestry or the beach. You bring nature in, the best possible way you can. Also, studies have shown that just viewing photographs or images of nature can have the same relaxing effect on the brain as witnessing your plant babies grow. Even just seeing happy, travel photos when you are out and about can help alleviate some stress. 

So, when selecting which images of nature to display, make sure to pick those you can associate with positively.

Photo source: Twitter | James Brunt

Bonus: Create an indoor courtyard

If you feel like little touches here and there of greenery and nature is not enough, go big and create your own courtyard. Here, you’ll be able to incorporate all the elements mentioned above and it will be an amazing and restorative space right at the heart of your home. 

Your own little escape from the stresses of the outside world. 

You can even transfer the courtyard to your backyard so that it’s really ‘outdoors’. Plant large, towering trees that can provide a cool shade from the sun, without blocking off any light. Add a small pond and fill it up with colorful fish, maybe even turtles. Decorate the area with natural furniture using driftwood, wicker or water hyacinth. And simply, enjoy this wonderful little pocket of nature you’ve created at home. 

Indoor courtyard complete with a tree and stone steps

Photo source: Houzz

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