Bringing Nature Inside: The Appeal of Biophilic Design


Most people spend a significant percentage of their lives surrounded by concrete, glass, and artificial lighting. The comfort of the great indoors is a modern luxury, but science tells us this lifestyle can lead to stress, reduced happiness, and a sense of disconnection.

Biophilic design is an innovative approach that seeks to incorporate elements of the natural world into home design, creating spaces that promote well-being and connect us with nature.  This concept is more than just adding a potted plant to your desk or hanging landscape art on the wall – it focuses on a deep and thoughtful integration of natural elements into the home.

This article explores the principles of biophilic design, explains the science behind it, and reveals tips on how to get started.

The Science Behind Biophilic Design

Biologist E.O. Wilson detailed the innate connection humans have with nature and all living organisms in his 1984 book “Biophilia.” The relationship between humans and the natural world plays a major role in our evolutionary history, as our ancestors were literally a part of nature for thousands of years before cities began popping up around 7500 BC.

Numerous scientific studies have shown that exposure to natural elements can positively impact our physical and psychological health. For instance, spending time in natural settings or even just observing nature through a window can reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function. By incorporating these elements and other natural materials into our surroundings, biophilic design seeks to harness these benefits.

Design Principles and Philosophy

Biophilic design operates on several fundamental principles, all of which seek to incorporate nature into a manmade environment. The list below provides inspiration for homeowners looking to add biophilic elements to their space.

Bring Nature Indoors

It’s nearly impossible to artificially recreate nature’s beauty.  And while turning your home into a greenhouse or miniature nature preserve is unrealistic, you can add natural components like vertical gardens, hanging planters, rocks, and small water features in thoughtfully chosen areas.

Organic Materials

Using natural and organic materials like wood, stone, and natural textiles in interior design can create a tactile connection to nature. These materials have a timeless appeal (they’ve been in style for thousands of years) and create an inviting and relaxing environment.  

Natural Light and Lines of Sight

Sunlight has proven benefits for enhancing mood, regulating sleep/wake cycles, and increasing productivity. By opting for lighter curtains and furniture, you’ll allow more natural light to spread throughout your home. In addition, consider the placement of chairs and couches to maximize your window views. There’s no better wall art than a portal to the great outdoors!

Utilize Earth Tones

The next time you take a walk outdoors, take note of nature’s color palette and start incorporating those hues into your design. The spectrum of greens, browns, blues, and even pops of “flower” colors can add a dynamic yet calming effect to your home.

Wellness Benefits

Beyond aesthetics, biophilic design cultivates overall wellness and improves quality of life. As previously mentioned, humans evolved with nature for thousands of years, so it makes sense that bringing these elements indoors helps us feel right at home (pun intended).

Research shows a biophilic design scheme that incorporates copious plants and natural light can improve a home’s air quality, reduce energy consumption, and foster creativity. While things like air quality and energy consumption can be measured, the benefits of biophilic environments extend even further. For example, healthcare settings that utilize natural elements in their design have observed quicker healing and recovery. Additionally, educational spaces have seen improvements in learning, focus, and overall academic performance.

Finally, it’s important to note the timelessness of biophilic design. Trends come and go, but nature is a constant within the human experience. Homeowners who utilize this design technique can enjoy it for years without feeling like their space has fallen out of style.

Transform Your Home with Hantel Kitchen & Baths

Even if you’re not quite ready to redecorate your entire home with biophilic elements, bathrooms are an ideal place to start. These spaces function as private sanctuaries and should radiate peace and relaxation. But as much as plants and other organic elements can improve your space, it must also be functional. That’s where we come in.

Hantel Kitchens & Baths has decades of experience working with Nashville area homeowners to bring their dreams to life. We combine your vision with our building expertise to create truly memorable spaces. Contact a team member today to schedule a consultation and start building the kitchen or bathroom you deserve.