What is Biophilic Design? And How to Bring into Your Home

Is Biophilic Design Just Another Fad?

Biophilic design. Is this just another fad? A buzzword like ‘hygge’ and ‘cottage core’? Or is there something a little more to it?

Biophilia is a term that’s been around for years. It is the inherent human desire to surround ourselves with natural, living, or nature-inspired things. And biophilic design celebrates that.

What is Biophilic Design and Why Does it Matter?

Biophilic design, simply put, is a concept that aims to connect humans with nature through the use of natural materials and earth-born elements. The goal is to create an environment to enhance our mood and promote a sense of harmony with the natural world.

But, why does it matter? And why should we care? Well, when it comes to ‘why’ it matters, biophilic design has been proven to positively affect our physical and mental health and calm the soul.

And, in this digital age, getting back to our roots and feeling at one with nature is one of the best ways to quiet a busy mind and promote a sense of happiness and well-being.

10 Ways to Incorporate Biophilic Design in the Home — Bring the outside in, with indoor greenery.

10 Ways You Can Bring Biophilic Design into Your Own Home

The term ‘biophilic design’ probably sounds a lot more formal and confusing than it actually is. In a nutshell, it’s ‘bringing the outside in.’

From the paint colours we choose for our walls to the use of indoor plants and natural materials and textures. By using nature-inspired colours, natural materials and textures in an interior space is simply a way of emulating the sense of calm that we experience when out in nature.

Here are ten simple ways to bring biophilic design elements into our homes.

Use a Colour Palette Inspired by Nature

Choose a calming base colour, inspired by nature, such as beige, taupe, or ivory to provide a neutral backdrop for the rest of your palette. Using shades of the same colour within the home gives an interior a gentle, cohesive feel.

Earthy tones and natural hues inspired by the outdoors are a good choice too. Shades of green and blue, plus brown and neutrals, can help to create a calming and soothing environment.

Many paint manufacturers produce eco-paint ranges with low — or no —VOC (volatile organic compounds), fumes, or odour. These earth-friendly paints can help improve both health and air quality by reducing harmful chemicals.

Add visual interest by incorporating pops of earthy colours inspired by nature. Think of warm terracotta, rusty orange, deep blue, or sunny yellow.

Introduce brighter shades through artwork, accessories, and soft furnishings. Create focal points and add depth to your colour scheme by layering colour.

Choosing nature inspired colours is a great way to bring Biophilic Design into the home
Choose shades inspired by nature | Image credit: The Listed Home.

Invest in Houseplants

Houseplants not only soften an interior and look good. But they also improve air quality and create a calming atmosphere.

Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, helping to increase oxygen levels indoors.

Many houseplants naturally release moisture vapour through a process called transpiration. Transpiration can help combat dry indoor air, particularly during winter or in regions with low humidity.

Adequate humidity levels can prevent dry skin and reduce the risk of respiratory infections.

Indoor plants are scientifically proven to reduce stress levels and improve mental well-being. Studies also show that being around plants can promote relaxation, lower blood pressure, and decrease anxiety.

Humans have an inherent connection to nature, known as biophilia. Having houseplants indoors allows us to satisfy this biophilic need by bringing elements of the natural world into our living spaces. This connection with nature promotes well-being, reduces stress, and increases happiness.

Remember to consider your specific lighting conditions and care preferences when selecting houseplants.

Choose various plants of different shapes and sizes to add visual impact.

Low-maintenance plants such as Snake Plant (Sansevieria) and Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum) are easy to care for, requiring minimal light and water. But they’re excellent at filtering toxins like formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and trichloroethylene from the air.

Indoor greenery is a must in biophilic design
Indoor greenery is a must in biophilic design | Image credit: The Listed Home.

Design a Green Wall

If you’re struggling with a lack of shelf space for houseplants, why not think outside the box and install a vertical garden — or living wall — in your home?

Planters can be installed on walls (or even ceilings) to provide a vibrant display of greenery while enhancing air quality. However, before you go ahead, ensure that the surface can support the weight of the plants and any additional infrastructure. Also, consider factors such as available sunlight and access to a water source.

There are different types of green walls to consider:

  • Green Façade: This type of green wall involves planting climbing plants or vines directly on the wall or using a trellis system for support.
  • Modular Living Wall: Modular panels are pre-grown with plants and installed onto the wall. They often include a framework, irrigation system, and root barrier.
  • Green Wall Pocket System: This system uses pockets or planters attached to the wall, allowing individual plants to grow. It provides flexibility in plant selection and arrangement.
  • Hydroponic System: This system utilises a soilless growing medium and a recirculating irrigation system. It is suitable for indoor green walls or locations with limited access to soil.

Bring in Natural Light

Maximize the amount of natural light in your home. If you’re extending or remodelling, try incorporating large windows, skylights, or light wells.

Daylight not only illuminates a space but also helps regulate circadian rhythms and boosts mood. Particularly good if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

For those unable to add a natural light source, consider ditching heavy curtains to let as much daylight in as possible. Instead, choose voiles and sheer fabrics, or use blinds to illuminate your space.

Large windows, skylights and light wells are great ways to bring Biophilic Design into the home
Maximise light with large windows, skylights and light wells | Image credit: The Listed Home.

Install a Water Feature

Water elements, such as a small fountain or an indoor water wall, will promote tranquillity and mimic nature’s soothing sounds.

From tabletop fountains to wall-mounted water features and bubble walls, there are plenty of exciting and fun ways to include an indoor water feature.

If you opt for a pond or water garden, select aquatic plants and decorative elements such as rocks, pebbles, or water lilies to enhance the natural beauty of the feature.

Use Organic Materials

Incorporate natural materials such as wood, bamboo or stone in your interior design. These materials add warmth and texture to your home, creating a connection with nature.

Limestone flooring, for example, is a great environmentally friendly choice for the home. It’s a plentiful resource found across the globe. And, what’s more, as it’s a naturally occurring material, it doesn’t require any other resources to create it.

Consider natural fabrics for furniture too. Linen sofas and wooden tables or shelving will further enhance the natural vibe of the living space.

And woven textiles, such as area rugs made from natural fibres like jute or sisal and woollen blankets in natural tones, add visual interest to your room.

Bring Biophilic Design into your home with natural patterns.
This wallpaper mural brings the outside in | Image credit: The Listed Home.

Introduce Natural Patterns and Textures

Consider incorporating patterns and textures that mimic those found in nature. For example, choosing furniture, fabrics, and wallpaper with grain, leaf, or water patterns will bring a sense of calm to your living spaces.

Botanical wallpapers and murals will create a real impact and bring walls to life. Plus, they have the added advantage of bringing the outside in.

Using botanical wallpaper will not only transform a space but will further enhance the biophilic design of your interior. Nature-inspired wallpaper can even be used in tiny rooms, such as downstairs toilets and cloakrooms, to great effect.

Use Aromas of Nature

Fill your home with natural scents. Use essential oils or natural-scented candles, with fragrances like lavender, eucalyptus, or citrus. All of these can evoke a sense of calm and relaxation.

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that offer a wide range of aromatic scents. You can use them in various ways:

  • Linen and Fabric Spray: Create your own by mixing a few drops of essential oil with water in a spray bottle. Spritz onto curtains, pillows, or linens for a fresh, natural scent.
  • Diffuser: Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to a diffuser and let it disperse the scent throughout the room.
  • Potpourri: Create a homemade potpourri by combining dried flowers, herbs, and citrus peels. Add a few drops of essential oil to enhance the fragrance.
To enhance biophilic design in the home, make the most of any natural elements you may have outside your windows.
Make the most of any views of nature | Image credit: The Listed Home.

Make The Most of Any Views of Nature

Even high-rise city buildings can have views of riverscapes, parks, or the sky. So create focal points towards them to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Make the most of any natural elements outside your windows. For example, move your furniture around to maximise views of gardens, trees, or bodies of water.

Take Advantage of The Fifth Room

Gardens are ‘the fifth room.’ Enjoy this and extend your outdoor living space by creating a comfortable patio or deck. Add natural elements like potted plants, outdoor furniture made from sustainable materials, and cosy lighting.

Take advantage of the summer months and get outside in the garden in the evening. Use weatherproof sofas, outdoor cushions, and rugs, and keep warm with an outdoor heater, chiminea, or fire pit.

Then transform your nighttime garden using solar lights. Uplight trees and bushes to create drama and interest, and use twinkling fairy lights to create a magical effect.

Hurricane lanterns and tealight candles give a warm glow and create a gentle ambience—the perfect lighting for a summer evening outdoors.

Gardens are 'the fifth room'. Take advantage of this and extend your outdoor living space by creating a comfortable patio or deck area.
Take the inside out — create a ‘fifth room’ in your garden | Image credit: The Listed Home.

Biophilic design principles generally concentrate on bringing the outside in, but creating a comfortable living space in your garden and making the most of that 5th room brings the inside out.

This cohesion between our inside and outside living spaces is excellent for positive mental health and well-being and will give us a true sense of harmony with the natural world.

Caro Davies editor of The Listed Home
 | Website

Caro Davies is a former art-director turned writer and content-creator, and editor behind UK lifestyle blog The Listed Home. She writes about home-related topics, from interiors and DIY to food and craft. The Listed Home has been featured in various publications, including Ideal Home, Grazia, and Homes & Antiques magazines.

Home | The Listed Home Blog | What is Biophilic Design? And How to Bring into Your Home

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

The Listed Home featured publications