In May 2022, researchers from Deakin University in Geelong, Australia published the results of their meta-analysis on how biophilic design affects humans. This paper presented findings from 49 studies that showed an increase in the positive effects of nature on human emotions while at the same time reducing the negative ones.
Unsurprisingly, this meta-analysis only demonstrated what numerous studies have proven years before, the undisputed human-nature connection. A biophilic indoor environment is one of the most talked about concepts in interior design, getting more popular as stress and anxiety rise in the urban world. A 2020 study provided evidence that biophilic design in indoor environments had a recovery effect on mental health.
German social psychologist and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm coined the term “biophilia” in 1964 to describe human attraction to everything alive. Independently and in 1984, an American biologist Edward Osborne Wilson used this term to describe a trait humans gained through evolution to mentally connect with nature.
Today, nature is not only welcomed in homes and other indoor spaces, but it has become an integral part of the décor that goes far beyond potted plants. To understand this concept and enrich your interior design with nature, here are the best ideas that will revitalize your space with biophilia.
Turn plants into part of your décor
Plants are the easiest ways to bring biophilia into your interior design. You can place them anywhere where they will thrive and stay healthy like hanging them from the ceiling. Having plants in the bathroom can turn showers and baths into a spa experience, especially if you place a leafy, tropical variety in the stall.
Herbs on the kitchen window, succulents on the wall, and cacti in the home office are some of the low-maintenance suggestions to green up the space. Those who love plants might want to plan their position and location to avoid turning them into a nuisance and clutter-makers.
For example, tall, leafy plants, like monstera and weeping figs, should go in the corners. Smaller plants, like peace lily and devil’s ivy, are ideal to put on the shelves, window sills, and in the hallway, providing there is enough light.
Enhance daylight wherever possible
Sunlight is one of the most natural elements you can add to your space. When not possible to create new light sources, try some of the tricks interior designers have used for centuries, like placing a mirror opposite a window. A skylight is an excellent idea when you can remodel your home and add ceiling windows.
However, installing transom windows above doors and other windows can increase the amount of daylight in the room. If you don’t have many options for bringing in more daylight, consider replacing solid walls with glass ones. That way you will expand the sunlight’s reach and make the space lighter and more spacious, changing its feel completely.
Create a natural color scheme
Sometimes you can’t do a big makeover, but that’s not to say you can’t have a biophilic interior design. Color is one of the simplest ways to change the space, give it a different look, and create a new vibe. To achieve biophilic properties, use nature-inspired shades, like earthy tones and various greens.
Blue to associate with water and sky, beige for sand, brown for wood, and orange for sunshine are only some of the options among many. Before you start picking furniture, paint, and carpets, imagine what kind of nature brings calm and makes you feel sheltered. Then think about how you can transfer those colors into your space and turn it into a biophilic interior environment.
Embrace the power of flowers
Flowers are colorful, full of fragrances, beautiful to look at, and can enrich the space with their presence. When it comes to incorporating them into interior design, you can choose from a variety of options. For example, wildflowers and native flower arrangement can bring playfulness and delight into the room. White roses or Callas are perfect for minimalist décor to bring out elegance and sophistication.
But besides having an aesthetic appeal, flowers are also full of symbols that date back to the Celts and Romans. For instance, the Gaillardia bouquet speaks of joy, Begonias are for uniqueness, bleeding hearts stand for romance, and pink azalea represents family.
Those allergic to flowers or not fans of keeping plants in a vase can find another way to include them in interior decorations. Flowery motifs on the wallpapers and curtains are commonly present in modern designs, making the room cozy and warm. Even artificial flowers can serve biophilia as long as they are realistic and tasteful.
Find inspiration in natural shapes
Nature comes in various shapes and patterns, most of which are far from rigid geometric lines. To mimic this, look for pieces that have irregular shapes reminding you of waves, clouds, or hills. The best you can do is visit local craftsmen and buy their handmade products, preferably from natural materials.
Objects that kept their natural texture, like wood and stone, are ideal to turn into a natural shape. For example, a dining table made from irregular lumber boards and covered with epoxy resin has been trending for the last decade. You can add to it send and rocks or ask craftsmen to create something specific by playing with resin, like a cloudy sky or wavy sea.
Control the air quality indoors
Biophilia covers several senses — not just what you see, but what you breathe, feel, hear, and smell. One of the ways you can improve biophilic design is by controlling the air quality in space. This can include the regular airing of the rooms and the use of humidifiers to create natural properties of the outdoors.
Moreover, making sure that your air conditioner is in top shape and working properly should also be one of your priorities. Dusting and decluttering are equally important since they prevent the air from pollution, going stale, or causing allergies. If you live in a city with dense traffic or concerning industrial zone, consider using an air purifier as a better option than opening windows frequently.
Fit water into your interior design
Water is not the easiest biophilic element to introduce to your indoor environment, but far from being impossible. The easiest way you can do this is with an aquarium with or without fish but carefully designed to be visually admired. The indoor water wall feature may require some elaborate renovations, but it will create a relaxing ambiance and a beautiful aesthetic.
Fountains are not exclusive to the outdoors and can be quite the sight in your interior décor. For example, you can go small and opt for an affordable tabletop fountain with an on/off switch. Alternatively, you can decide on bigger models that require special installation and cost more but look fantastic. If you go with the latter one, pick a fountain made from natural materials, like slate, to be truly worthy of the biophilic design.
Allow natural materials to prevail
Natural materials vary in price and often people are more prone to go with cheaper options that only mimic nature. However, you can include natural materials in your home even with a modest budget, like wooden beams and real bricks. Check ads and message boards for used materials that people want to donate or sell after their renovations.
Go for a walk in nature and pick up rocks that you can use for a fireplace, a wall, or other ways to decorate your space. If you are okay with spending a little extra, stone tiles, hardwood floors, and wooden furniture can make any place closer to nature.
Emulate the influence of nature
It’s not always possible to have natural materials, water features, or real plants, as well as to paint the space into a new, more nature-inspired color scheme. This is when you have to be creative to turn your space into a biophilic haven. For example, add artwork that depicts nature or is inspired by it. This can include framed photographs of forests, the sea, gardens, and anything else that is part of nature.
Paintings and sculptures can not only wake up the place but also give it a refine and luxurious vibe, especially if you use them as accent design features. Wallpapers with giant leaves or birds are ideal to place above the sink in the bathroom or the hallways. As for decoration, a portable Zen garden on the coffee table is a perfect way to enhance tranquility and directly engage with nature.
The bottom line
When you are looking for how to enrich your interior design with nature, start with yourself. Think of all those beautiful memories of nature that make you happy and content. Call to mind colors, shapes, smells, sounds, and feels that you can recreate in your space to resemble those recollections of nature.
Biophilic interior design is about building your relationship with nature in a way that is affordable, possible, and comfortable for you. Although trying to find the best ideas can be a challenge, you will get there if you stay true to yourself and what kind of biophilic elements will bring you the greatest bliss.
Nina is a lifestyle blogger, yoga aficionado and a travel enthusiast with a distinctive taste for home decor. She’s passionate about learning new things and sharing meaningful ideas. In her free time, she loves to design clothes and furniture. If you wanna see what she’s up to you can find her on Twitter