Designing eco homes inspired by nature- for happier & healthier places to live

oliver General, Healthy spaces, Natural stuff

The BBC Science and environment site recently identified that the correlation between access to green spaces and well-being is becoming increasingly important and as a means to cut billions for the NHS. The Woodland Trust’s chief executive, Sue Holden stated “It is a connection that we know intrinsically, we believe it to be true but increasingly it is something that evidence is backing up as well.”

Being able to increase health and happiness through design is something that I have always been passionate about. The term is known as ‘Biophilic Design’, and it’s becoming increasingly  popular for clients who appreciate the impact that technology is having in distancing our lives and homes from nature, and the numerous benefits that it can bring to our lives.

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Simply put Biophilic design for the home can be summarised under four points

–   Improving views onto nature – being able to see nature from your home, be it plants, trees, and vistas.

–    Maximising natural light flooding into your home – it can be as simple as keeping your windows clean to maximise  light to fitting roof lights.

–    Safe spaces to retreat into – having a cosy lounge or bedroom that you feel safe and comfortable in

–    Natural materials, textures and patterns – incorporating nature in a sensory way, using natural materials and even images of nature can have a calming impact.

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Increasing the natural light in your home is a simple but really important way of bringing a little bit of nature into your home or office space. Velux windows and skylights allow natural sunlight to flood into what would be t dark  spaces. VELFAC windows and doors are another alternative, constructed to be energy efficient whilst integral frames and mullions minimise obstructions . If you’re fitting new windows and doors (and planning permits it!) then maximise wherever you can.

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If views out onto nature simply aren’t an option, then opt for large scale digitally printed wallpapers which can be enormously convincing, particularly if you get the lighting right. Surface View provides a wide selection of beautiful made to measure murals for your home. Combine them with roof light allowing natural light to bring them to life or carefully positioned LED down lighters for night time calm and viewing delight.

woolly pocket

Plants are an essential element for the biophilic home. Not only  will they help remove toxins and purify the air they add a vital and dynamic quality to spaces. If you don’t have table or shelf space then the innovative company Woolly Pocket may have the answer with cost effective and stunning ways of bringing nature onto every wall surface that you desire – they even supply an automated self watering system to help you keep plants alive.

 

Rear

Creating safe spaces to retreat back into is a combination of careful furniture positioning, intimate lighting and welcoming wall surfaces – be they paint, wall papers or timber cladding. its a chance to get creative and homely with your interior design skills- think “layering right  into the details” of cushions, throws and soft textiles to make the ultimate safe space. See how i’ve achieved this in my own home in the new book Modern Rustic by Ryland Peters and Small

Being able to reconnect with the natural world should’nt be an added extra but an essential ingredient of every space we inhabit . Connecting with nature will bring benefits to mood, sleep patterns, health and happiness,  – improving our psychological and physiological well being – what’s not to love?