Beautiful Ways To Bring The Outdoors Into Your Home

Nature's calming effects are well-known, but you may not understand how to harness these effects in your home to achieve a noticeable impact. The emerging concept of biophilic design provides a scientific groundwork for understanding why and how you should bring elements of the outdoors in. According to "The Practice of Biophilic Design," biophilic design involves incorporating elements of the natural world in built architecture and design. For the vast majority of human history, we have evolved in accordance with nature, rather than in the more recently-developed artificial, man-made environments. The philosophy of biophilic design maintains that we have an innate affinity for natural environments, which is often not reflected in modern design.

Terrapin Bright Green claims that biophilic design can improve mood, brain function, and overall wellbeing. Considering the fact that most people spend about 90% of our time in indoor spaces (per "The Practice of Biophilic Design"), implementing these tools to bring nature into your home can positively impact your mood and overall wellbeing.

1. Embrace natural light and fresh air

"The Practice of Biophilic Design" explains that natural light allows us to perceive the changes from day to night and season to season, grounding us and ushering in a sense of calm. The sensation of fresh air has similar positive effects. The simplest way to bring natural light and air into a space is with open windows. To visually emphasize the natural airflow from an open window, Terrapin Bright Green suggests lightweight curtains that will move with the breeze. Consider also hanging mirrors to reflect natural light throughout your space.

2. Bring in as much plant life as possible

Incorporating plants into your home seems like one of the easiest ways to bring biophilic design into your living space, but plopping down a couple of succulents on your window sill won't cut it. Per "The Practice of Biophilic Design," plants should be abundant and, ideally, consist of native species to bring you in touch with your local environment. Potted plants, window boxes, gardens visible from a window, artwork depicting nature, and vases with local flowers are all examples of ways you can incorporate plants into your home.

3. Light a fire

If you don't have a fireplace, investing in a faux version can help you bring warmth into your home. A number of space heaters are designed to look like fireplaces and adda cozy hygge flair to your space. On a smaller scale, candles with natural scents can create a cozy ambiance.

If it's not possible to bring fire into your space, "The Practice of Biophilic Design" suggests emulating the effect with light, color, and movement. A lamp outfitted with an orange lampshade and a dynamic lightbulb can mimic the soothing, flickering movements of a real flame.

4. Opt for natural colors and materials

Choosing colors and materials from the natural world will establish a sense of calm throughout your space. Examples include stone, wood, leather, wool, and cotton. According to Pebble, the textures and patterns of rustic features provide a sensory atmosphere similar to what we experience in nature, making it an important component of biophilic design.

Likewise, the use of naturally occurring colors is significant. "The Practice of Biophilic Design" discourages the use of artificially bright colors unless they are thoughtfully used akin to natural elements such as flowers, the sun, or wildlife.

5. Incorporate organic shapes and lines

Modern design is riddled with perfectly straight lines and rigid angles rarely seen in nature. Instead, Terrapin Bright Green suggests that design based on the naturally occurring Fibonacci Sequence or the Golden Ratio can replicate the calming effects of being outside. Opt for curvy furniture and organic lines that can mimic the impact of natural patterns. 

Whenever possible, try to incorporate shapes, symbols, and motifs from nature into your space. This could be anything from floral printed textiles to seashell wallpaper — the possibilities are endless. 

6. Create spaces that emphasize prospect and refuge

According to "The Practice of Biophilic Design," human evolution has primed us to prefer an expansive landscape view, referred to as prospect, which allows us a full grasp of our environment. An open floor plan can create the illusion of prospect in an indoor space, per Terrapin Bright Green.

Prospect should be balanced by opportunities for refuge to provide a necessary sense of safety and comfort. You can achieve this in an open plan by including a cozy reading nook or hanging a canopy from the ceiling to create a calm escape.

7. Add elements of mystery and risk

As curious creatures, humans love mystery. From an evolutionary standpoint, this affinity helps us learn and adapt. Terrapin Bright Green encourages readers to incorporate mystery to create dynamic and exciting spaces in line with biophilic design. Experiment with separating spaces in your home with partially closed curtains that invite exploration and curiosity.

Similarly, a perceived sense of risk in a safe environment can provide a rush of dopamine, Terrapin Bright Green explains. Examples of this phenomenon can range from stepping stones crossing a backyard water feature to an eye-catching artwork depicting a growling tiger.

8. Draw inspiration from your local ecosystem

Considering our globalized world, your home may not necessarily be a reflection of your local environment. Rebuilding that connection to your physical place in the world is an important facet of biophilic design that promotes a sense of belonging, according to "The Practice of Biophilic Design". While pursuing biophilic design, remember to consider the characteristics of your local area and reflect them in your home whenever possible. For instance, use indigenous plants and other natural resources that are abundant in your area. If in doubt, you can simply look outside your window for inspiration.