Karen Bell is Sales Director at David Salisbury, a company manufacturing and installing top of the range hardwood conservatories, garden rooms and orangeries for over 30 years
The past 16 months have altered our attitudes on what our homes mean to us and what we expect from them, whether that’s creating separate work areas, extending properties to make more room, or simply improving the space we call home to make life more enjoyable.
At the same time, as many of us swapped our usual weekend routines for countryside walks, we became more aware of the relationship between our surroundings and our wellbeing, creating an increased desire to be closer to nature.
Biophilic design is one way of achieving this. The term biophilia centres around the idea that people possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. Biophilic design takes the concept of this and applies it to the built environment, by successfully linking our homes and gardens, integrating natural elements and processes, including materials, plants, and lighting, to help bring the outdoors in.
It’s a trend that’s becoming more and more popular. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, it has a positive impact on our health – plants for example are known to reduce stress levels and improve air quality.
So, how to go about achieving it? We’ve shared some practical tips below, on how to make incorporate biophilic design within your home and garden:
Use natural materials
As well as being an environmentally friendly choice, using a natural and sustainable building material like timber is a really key part of biophilic design. Extending your property with an oak framed orangery or garden room for example, is a great way to add extra space – perhaps for a new office, kitchen or dining room – without losing that connection to nature. The rustic beauty of natural oak is that it will only look better with time, too.
Create stunning views
If you are adding an extension, take care to prioritise the views of your garden. Biophilic design is all about being closer to nature and creating that seamless blend between home and garden, so be sure your extension complements your garden, rather than competes with it for attention, and be careful not to block any views. Keep planting around the extension low, and make sure furniture inside your conservatory, orangery or garden room is placed carefully.
Experiment with indoor plants
Houseplants are having a bit of a moment, and the shift towards more adventurous greenery in our homes is becoming increasingly popular, whether that’s statement pieces in your living room that create a talking point amongst guests, greenery in the study to help you stay calm and focused, or even fruit plants in an extension.
In fact, the original purpose of orangeries was for growing fruit plants during the winter months and we are now seeing a return to these glazed extensions, which are designed for everyday living, along with some of the more exotic plants they are well-suited to housing.
Prioritise natural light
Natural light is proven to be one of the most important factors to our health and productivity, not to mention overall happiness. If you’re considering any home improvement projects, lighting should be a key consideration. A fully glazed structure such as a conservatory is one way of maximising our exposure to natural light at home and provides a great environment for a kitchen or office for example. Unlike poor quality uPVC conservatories from the 80s and 90s, a high level of glass content doesn’t have to mean poor temperature control – namely an environment that’s too hot in summer and too cold in winter. Thankfully due to advances in construction methods and materials, you can enjoy the use of a glazed extension all year round, provided you buy from a reputable manufacturer.
Ensure good ventilation
Similarly to the above, the benefits to our health of breathing in fresh air can’t be overestimated. Being able to open windows or skylights is important to ensure a flow of fresh air throughout your home or extension, keeping you alert and energised. You might also wish to consider the use of roof vents, ceiling fans and air conditioning.
Use natural colours
Of course, the colour palette you opt for should take into account your own personal preferences, as well as your existing home, but if you’re keen to really get on board with the biophilic design trend, then using plenty of earthy hues is a great way to help blend the lines between your house and garden. If you feel your home or extension needs a bit of a lift, why not select one or two brighter accent colours to work alongside these natural tones?
While measures from the pandemic might be lifting, many of us are still planning to spend more time at home, whether that’s due to remote working or staycations, so creating the right environment is essential, and with the proven mental and physical health benefits of biophilic design, it’s a trend we’re expecting to see more of.