Biophilic Design 15/05/2017

Natural interiors for wellbeing: Biophilic Design reconnects us with nature

Natural interiors using biophilic principles: nature connected colours, materials, smells and sounds all contribute to wellbeing.

Natural interiors using Biophilic Design aim to reconnect us with nature. These spaces use natural elements in our homes, offices, schools, hospitals and more, to restore health and wellbeing.

Think of a time or place where you felt – or would feel – completely relaxed. A place where you’re free of the burdens and stresses of everyday life. Chances are you were in a natural environment. Research has shown this to be the case for 90% of us.

Richard Louv in his inspiring book The Nature Principle explains in real terms what he calls “Nature Deficit Disorder”, and its impact on our physical and emotional wellbeing in a digital age. This is not a preachy book condemning our modern ways, but rather a beautiful reminder to stop, observe and absorb nature once again. Spending time in nature, away from screens, will simultaneously calm and sharpen our senses and reduce fatigue.

Nature Helps us Focus and Feel Good

These principles apply to interior spaces, whether in the home, at work, school or in places of recovery. Biophilic Design in architecture and interior design considers factors such as light, vegetation, air quality, imagery, forms, materials and colour. They give us a real or imagined connection to nature in our increasingly urban environments. Natural interiors have been shown to significantly improve creativity, productivity and learning, increase recovery from illness and positively impact our overall wellbeing.


The Crassula Ovata / Money Plant has been known to treat warts, corns, sickness and diarrhoea. Feng Shui practitioners use it for nourishing the chi.

The Crassula Ovata, or Money Plant, adds interest as a growing succulent. I hear it can be used for treating warts, nausea, corns, and diarrhoea (don’t try this at home kids, without checking the facts!). In Feng Shui, it’s said to support your mental health by nourishing the chi.

Detoxifying and purifying plant that break down and neutralise toxic gases like benzene, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide, and removes mould from the air.

Peace Lilies purify the air, making them a great addition to places where focus is needed, such as workplaces and schools. They break down and neutralise toxic gases like formaldehyde (occurs in glues, paints and some fabric), benzene (found in solvents), and carbon monoxide. As Peace Lilies also remove mould from the air, I like to have mine in the bedroom. I find their shape and colours perfect for this calm space.


Maximise Light & Greenery

In your own home, try to maximise light with large windows and place furniture so it allows for looking outside. Reflective surfaces can help maximise the light available. If there is no green space outside, you can hang planters outside the window. Inside, introduce plants throughout to not only give a visual connection to nature, but also to purify the air. Different plants have different qualities, so it’s great to have a variety. I love having plants all around the house (many of which are herbs to add natural scents). I often work outside, surrounded by sounds, smells and sights.

A Safe Refuge to Enjoy Nature

We often prefer looking at outside views from a smaller place where we feel protected. So it’s a good idea to also create a cosy refuge, like a green snug for quiet time. We had a snug in an office I worked in. It was a great place to come up with new creative ideas. In our home, we’ve brought the outside in using wooden floors that match the stone slabs outside. Wide bi-fold doors and four Velux windows let in lots of natural light. You can opt for artwork that depicts or alludes to nature, tactile materials and natural colours to further the connection and create a positive environment.

Turn to the page biophilic design to find out more about the history and fascinating benefits of these natural interiors!

The Chalk & Moss natural design shop sells homewares, furniture and lighting in textures and colours for those wanting a biophilic space. Why not have a browse!

And now I’d like to take you on a virtual tour of my own home, where we used biophilic design principles to create a calm yet refreshing quality. Photos in this post are from my own home.

Springtime bulbs on the table in a bright kitchen diner. Rena, a nature connected home.

Natural materials and colours are used throughout. The patio slabs were chosen to be close to the tone of the floor, to merge outside and inside.

Springtime breakfast table in a bright kitchen diner. Rena, a nature connected home, as an example of biophilic design. Cat looking out over the garden, enjoying the springtime sun. The patio slabs are close in colour to the wood flooring inside, to give a seamless indoor-outdoor transition. Bright breakfast table in a bright kitchen diner. Rena, a nature connected home with natural materials throughout.

Rena, with natural materials, colours and textures throughout.

Plants are positioned throughout the room to give a feeling of calm and connection to nature. It also contrasts against the white backdrop. Natural materials and texture feature throughout. Plants are selected for their air purifying qualities.

Springtime breakfast table in a bright kitchen diner. Rena, a nature connected home.

The bedroom has natural materials, both light and muted, that invite the sunlight to reflect. Plants are positioned around the room. Rena, a biophilic design home.

Animals play an important role in home comfort and biophilic design. A purring cat even reduces your blood pressure!

Even animals play an important role in biophilic design. They keep you grounded and a purring cat on your lap reduces your blood pressure.

Even the bathroom gives a pleasurable view over the South Downs! The window is large and shoulder height for accessibility.

To enjoy the view over the South Downs, we placed a large window at viewing shoulder height in the small ensuite bathroom.

A warm sunny welcome!

The front of the house doesn’t get as much light as the rear, so we painted the stairs in my favourite yellow to give a warm, welcoming glow. The flooring remains constant throughout the ground floor (except the tiled loo and utility room).

Mix and match natural materials for tactile surfaces.

The extension was designed to let as much natural light in as possible, with four Velux windows and bifold doors to cover the back wall.

The extension lets in as much natural light as possible, with four Velux windows and bi-fold doors to cover the back wall.

The kitchen/living area has a strong link to the garden beyond, blurring the boundaries.

We wanted the extension to have a beautiful transition straight into the garden. I often work at the kitchen table or in the garden, instead of the upstairs office.

My home office on warm summer days.

On warm days, I literally immerse myself in nature when I work. Home office at its best!

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