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Nature on the Inside

As immunologist and wellness healing pioneer Esther Sternberg, MD, writes in her book, Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well Being, "We know that chronic stress causes illness and what can we do about it. We can design elements of place at all scales and all buildings that reduce stress and enhance well being." When I began to research and learn more about the benefits of considering wellness in design- I became very excited. There is so much information out there in regards to this topic. Seeing all the research was the confirmation of what I believed all along. That science was now proving what interior designers have always known, that good design does improve wellbeing.

Wellness-focused design has been scientifically proven that being close to nature or even viewing nature - instead of a wall - from inside actually improves and even increases healing in hospital patients. I think we all agree that a better view of nature is good for everyone. Designers have always created spaces with well being in mind; however, knowing that science proves that good design really works is even more inspiring. This is one reason I am on a mission to create wellness-focused environments through the power of interior design for those dealing with stressful times. I believe that by bringing nature into our interior spaces, we bring more peace and calm inside. I also believe, when we make confident design choices based on our personal authenticity, we can change lives.

Go Outside and See the Colors!: Let's first go outside to take a closer look. Nature is waiting for you. Just take a moment to really (REALLY!) look at the outdoor environment. If you live in a city, perhaps head over to a local park or take a short drive somewhere that offers fewer paved roads. Really immerse yourself in the colors and textures of nature. Look at the sky, and notice the soft variations of blue and gray and the gray-white tones of clouds. Now study the range of colors of the trees depending on the season - the greens, rusty reds, browns, and golds. Even look at the color variations of the grasses. Decide for yourself what earth tone color palette in nature resonates with YOU. Then bring those colors to your existing home interior. Also think about all the aspects of the natural world that you can tangibly bring indoors such as natural light, fresh air, water elements, plants, animals, and fire.

What is Biophilic Design? It's a concept used within the design industry to connect the natural environment to inhabitants of a space through the use of direct plantings and natural elements. In other words, lots of plants inside! You may have heard of hydroponic gardening, plant walls, etc. This is a beautiful way to incorporate natural plantings in the home and in some cases, feed your family with what you've grown. However, biophilic design is more than just plants. It is about incorporating all the elements of our outdoor world to fit the interior world that decreases stress and increases health, performance, and overall satisfaction in those that live in that space.

Bringing the Outside In!: There are several ways to bring the outdoors in. Hello, house plants. Perhaps consider various cactus and succulents that don't need much maintenance. Do you have a way to safely enjoy a fire? Candles are also a great way to enjoy a bit of warmth and light. Is the inside air quality optimal? Water is another element that can be brought inside. It is multi-sensory and can be used in design through bodies of water, like fountains and aquariums, which also offer relaxing sounds. Another way is through art. Artists have long studied the natural landscape. Explore various artists and their work that have captured its beauty. You can also use patterns and textures in fabrics and upholstery that reflect the natural world. Try to use organic materials when curating your furniture.

Indoor Nature in Winter: As we enter the colder, darker months, we will be spending more time indoors. Although the cold temperatures force you inside, using the organic elements of nature make winter the perfect time to bring the outdoors into the home. Start introducing some natural elements into your home and see how you start to feel over time. It is the joy of "hygge", like the Danish say. Hygge is finding joy in simple pleasures of everyday life. That is what slow living, timeless living, I like to say, is all about.

Look for our blog each week as we explore slow living, wellness design and healing spaces as it applies to decorating, entertaining, and travel.