What Is Biophilic Design? 4 Ways to Incorporate This Style

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Although we now spend most of our time indoors, the desire to connect with nature is written in our DNA, which is where biophilic design comes in as we try to incorporate nature into our environment. For our hunter-gatherer ancestors, nature was the source of food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities. Thousands of years later, our needs can be easily met without foraging or hunting, but this pull toward the outdoors remains embedded in our psyches.

Gabriela Herman

What is Biophilic Design?

The concept comes from the term biophilia, which refers to the human tendency to interact with other forms of life. In design, it means creating a sense of harmony between your home and the world outside.

Biophilic design was called out in Pinterest’s 2022 trend report, which noted significant spikes in search interest for the term, and it’s a buzzword you’ll still hear today from experts across the design industry. After too much time defined mainly by pandemic-driven isolation and anxiety, creating soothing spaces that bolstered our health and well-being was perhaps more critical than ever during those years.

Biophilic design continues to influence interior decor today, as seen in the rise in the use of the color green, the trend towards indoor-outdoor living, and the return of wood and other natural elements in furnishings and wall treatments. To introduce this nature-focused trend to your space, consider these ideas for biophilic design.

How to Incorporate Biophilic Design

Stacy Zarin Goldberg Photography LLC

Prioritize Plants as a Design Element

One of the easiest ways to introduce biophilic design to your home is through live plants. If you’re a novice plant parent, start small with a low-maintenance plant for your desk or a set of potted herbs on your kitchen windowsill. For the more experienced indoor gardener, take your plant collection to the next level with creative solutions that integrate greenery into the room’s design. To reap the benefits of biophilic design, dedicate an entire wall to plants, line your staircase with greenery, or fill each corner of the room with your favorite leafy varieties.

John Gruen

Highlight Outside Views

If you’re lucky enough to live in an area among trees, grass, or near a body of water, make sure your home’s architecture takes full advantage of it for natural biophilic design. Frame views of the outdoors with large picture windows uninterrupted by grilles or sashes. This trick lets you utilize nature as wall art, whether you live on a lakefront property or look out over a grassy backyard. Also, consider installing a skylight in a bathroom, hallway, or kitchen for views of the sky (and a boost of natural light).

Justin Coit

Foster an Indoor-Outdoor Connection

Connect indoor and outdoor living areas to create an easy flow between your home and nature to enhance biophilic design. Consider installing sliding doors that you can open to unite your living room with an outdoor patio. A balcony off your bedroom or a deck that connects to your kitchen are other luxuries that can make nature feel like an intentional part of your home’s decor.

At the very least, open your windows on temperate days to breathe in the fresh air and listen to the sounds of the rain, wind, or birds outside. When it’s too hot or cold for open windows, simply pulling up the blinds or drawing the curtains can boost your mood by letting in daylight and offering a glimpse of the outdoors.

Kim Cornelison

Decorate with Natural Elements

Biophilic design can also manifest itself in less literal ways. Apart from decorating with living plants, you can achieve a similar effect by filling your home with textures, colors, and shapes that replicate those you might find in nature. Choose materials such as wood, leather, and stone that are a nod to the outdoors, and opt for muted, organic tones in your color schemes. Incorporating subtle nods to nature in your decor is an easy and often inexpensive way to cultivate the calming qualities of biophilic design.

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