• Priya McCulloch

How to design your home for wellness and the 5 senses

What if your home could make you feel like you were on vacation? What if you could get that fully refreshed feeling that comes from escaping into nature just by relaxing in your own living room? There’s actually a term for this: biophilia.

Defining Biophilia

Biophilia is the innate human affinity to seek connections to nature and other forms of life. The term translates to “the love of living things” in ancient Greek. Research shows that exposure to nature affects our bodies and minds in many positive and healing ways. Biophilic design can reduce stress, improve cognitive function and creativity, improve our well-being, and expedite healing. Researcher Don Ulrich said, “Well-designed space can contribute up to 30% of our healing.”

Biophilic design brings characteristics of the natural world into your home. Think about water, greenery, natural light, or elements like wood and stone that can be incorporated into your interior design. Nature-inspired patterns, colors, sounds, and lighting all have a role in the overall way you feel in your home. Here in Tucson, we are surrounded by so much natural beauty. The stunning mountains, unique desert plants, vivid summer sunsets, there is so much inspiration for natural interior design.

Nature-inspired homes are certainly beautiful, but biophilic interior design goes beyond just the visual appearance of your home. True biophilic design is also done sustainably with a connection to the nature that materials are sourced from. This means environmentally friendly design practices like using green materials and ethical sourcing.


Bringing Nature into Your Home Design

When it comes to using nature in interior design, even small touches can make a big difference. Here are some of my favorite ways to incorporate biophilic design in the home:

  • Natural light: Place seating near windows with a view or towards natural daylight, add skylights or solar tubes, and select window coverings that diffuses daylight to make the most of the natural light around you.

  • Fire: Install a fireplace to hear the sound of a crackling fireplace inside and on the patio, light candles throughout your home.

  • Water: Indoor fountains, exterior pools, koi ponds, and water features are great ways to add this calming element to your indoor and outdoor spaces.

  • Colors: Go with nature-inspired soft color palettes. Greens, blues, sandy tan tones, and any shades that are naturally occurring in the area around your home will help for a seamless look from outdoors to indoors.

  • Plants: Indoor plants on shelving or in pottery and greenery on your walls are one of the best ways to enhance your biophilic design. Artificial plants are also a great low-maintenance option.

  • Acoustics: Avoid unpleasant echoes with rugs, drapes, and soft furnishings. This keeps your space quiet and creates areas for refuge and comfort.

  • Patterns: Look for organic shapes, patterns and textures in materials. Products with soft fabrics, leather, reclaimed woods, natural patina, limed finish, and raw edges are fantastic options for naturally occurring texture and pattern.

  • Ergonomics: Plan a layout that allows for comfortable movement, inviting people to move around, explore, and sit easily. Select furniture that is truly comfortable.

  • Natural scents and tastes: Use low VOC products for better air quality, grow an herb garden in the kitchen, or use an essential oil diffuser with natural earthy scents to improve the air around you.

Many of these are steps you can take today to ensure that your interior spaces help you to feel your best.

How I Use Biophilia as an Interior Designer

As your designer, I ensure that your home looks as beautiful as the nature around you, and also revitalizes you in the same way that spending time outdoors does. According to architect Claudia Bonollo of Monamour Natural Design, “Our mood and our capacity for communication are influenced by a combination of physical, mental and sensory factors. Therefore, an environment that involves all the senses makes us happier and more receptive.” For me, natural interior design is a full sensory experience. I even take into account the correct color temperature for artificial lighting to adjust to your circadian rhythm and optimize your sleep-wake cycle.

It makes perfect sense to have nature-inspired interiors. You travel to break away from everyday life and seek time in nature to feel an elevated mood to reduce stress. You should be able to have that feeling every day in your home as well.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”

-Albert Einstein

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