Feeling connected to the natural world can be a difficult task in our day to day lives, especially for those living in sprawling urban areas. No matter how far away we get from our hunter-gatherer lineage, humans will always have an innate affinity with nature and harbour a longing to feel close to it. Studies show time and time again how being surrounded by nature can have a hugely positive impact on both our physical and mental health.
Biophilic design, that is design that incorporates natural elements, has grown in popularity in recent years, as our knowledge and understanding of the associated benefits increases. This can look like anything from keeping houseplants to improving air circulation and quality to increasing window size, so inhabitants can enjoy views of the world outside.
There are many ways to include natural elements in the design of your home to increase that feeling of connection. With Autumn in full swing and colder weather pushing us to spend more time indoors, now is the ideal time to bring the outside in…
Hordes of houseplants
Perhaps the most obvious way of bringing the outside into your home is to include real living and breathing (or respiring) plants. Simply being surrounded by vibrant green foliage at home is the quickest shortcut to feeling connected to nature – and that’s before you start getting into the various health benefits associated with them. Having plants indoors is especially important during the colder months, as we spend less time outside and when we do, there may be a lack of green leaves around. For that evergreen sense of connection, carefully tend to your houseplants to ensure they remain healthy and lush throughout winter.
Mother Nature’s colour palette
Finding those direct connections to the outside world is not always possible. However, using a colour scheme that mimics hues found naturally can work just as well at making you feel connected. Greens and blues palpably connote land, sea, and sky, whilst sandy earthy pigments like ochre and taupe also evoke natural settings, bringing the illusion of the great outdoors to your interior.
Install a living wall
If you’ve got the space and a little patience, you could recreate your own slice of forest or jungle with a framed living wall. Moss wall art is a relatively low maintenance choice and makes a stand-out statement piece in any room. More varied living walls can require a fair bit of upkeep and upfront cost – however their aesthetic appeal makes the hard work all worth it.
In or out?
Blur the lines between your outdoor and indoor space with the continuation of a decorative style, colour, or material. Mirroring materials encourages flow throughout your home; this can be done by using the same tiles for the flooring of your balcony and the adjoining room, for example. The addition of functional furniture outside also plays into this concept; this breakfast bar straddling an exterior wall is a perfect way of distorting where the inside of your home begins and the outside ends.
Sun your space
Unfortunately, we aren’t always in full control of how much natural light is getting into our homes; geographical location, the layout of the building and the size of already existing windows are all contributing factors.
If possible, install a skylight or sunroom, and reap the benefits of this extra illumination. The increase in natural light will help to boost mood as well as resetting your circadian rhythms, enhancing sleep quality. Ensure any conservatories or sunrooms are well-insulated and comfortable, so your household can get the most out of them all year round.
Shun the synthetic
It is likely that natural materials and fabrics already heavily feature in your home, from your granite kitchen worktop to the cosy wool throw and jute rug in your bedroom. If you think your home is looking a little industrial or cold, mix in some natural soft furnishings to add warmth and texture. Small decorative touches like clay pottery and beachy elements - such as shells or dried starfish - also play in to the natural feel.
Appeal to the senses
Visual nods to nature aren’t the only way to bring the outside in; you have four other senses besides sight remember! Appease your sense of smell by including fragrant flowering plants, scented candles or diffusers with essential oils like lavender. Instead of having the tv chattering away in the background, you could even play natural sounds like birdsong or running water throughout your home to wind down in the evenings.
Wild works of art
There is good reason why prints of ocean waves and snowy mountainous landscapes are popular choices in homes. They remind us of the incredible natural world that we don’t always have access to, especially living in built-up urban areas. Grab some large awe-inspiring prints to decorate your interior, ensuring the colour palette compliments the rest of the room.
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