Know how some rooms just evoke good feelings the minute you walk in? Chances are, if a room makes you feel comfortable—like you want to stay a while—there’s some biophilia at play. Never heard of it?
The word biophilia, coined by the psychologist Eric Fromm in 1963 and popularized by the sociologist Edward O. Wilson in 1984, literally means “friendly feeling toward life.” In other words, we humans have an affinity for nature. (Think about it: If asked to name a relaxing place, most of us will pick a place related to nature—a seaside or lake, the woods or a mountainside.)
Not only do we find interior spaces that include nature attractive, there’s scientific evidence that nature and environments that reflect nature have a positive effect on our health and happiness—lowering blood pressure, increasing productivity, reducing stress, improving relationships, and fostering healing, just for starters. That’s why architects and interior designers are including biophilia in their designs for everything from workplaces to hospitals, coffee shops, and homes. ￼
Here are some easy ways for you to enhance your home with biophilia:
Make a visual connection to nature. This one’s easy. And the prospects are endless. A window with a view to nature is ideal, but adding plants (potted, hanging, living walls), flowers, colors that evoke nature, or even botanical prints to a room can accomplish the connection. Natural textures—like wood or stone—also offer a link. Your biophilia connection can be big and extravagant (a full-wall indoor water feature or a large stone fireplace) or little and modest (a goldfish in a little bowl or a basket of shells on a table). Every natural item contributes.
Look at the difference one simple potted plant makes in this bathroom. ￼
This room has a lot going for it, when it comes to biophilia—a beautiful view of nature, green walls, floral artwork, natural light, wood tones, and plenty of plants. (The combination of plants and wood tones is especially appealing.) ￼￼
￼￼Photo by Edan Cohen
Of course, natural textures needn’t be all unclaimed wood (though that’s nice) and rough textures. Beautiful, smooth, stone countertops provide a strong link to nature, too. ￼
Photo by Henry & Co.
Consider lighting. Sunlight pouring through your windows or diffused through diaphanous curtains is ideal, but, when limited, you’ll want to provide varied light, with different intensities depending on the time of day and tasks at hand. Cool, blue light is more natural in the morning, for example, while warm amber light (like that from a candle source) is suitable for the eves. Not only will the careful use of light make a room more pleasant, it’ll contribute to a better night’s sleep, too. (Really—the right light helps maintain the body’s all-important circadian rhythms!) ￼
Including candles in your bathroom or bedroom while readying for the night is a good way to unwind. ￼
Listen up. Unpleasant urban and industrial noises play havoc with biophilia. Consider flooring and wall materials that dampen noise. Use pleasant white noise, such as a water feature or bird sounds, to mask unnatural noise. Weather permitting, keep a window open near a bird feeder or running water source.
Improve air quality. A stuffy room is the antithesis of biophilia. Open your windows often, even in the winter. (Crack them for a few hours or whenever you clean a room.) Check the airflow, humidity, and temperature to make sure the air quality in your home is as fresh and clean as possible. (Depending on the day’s Air Quality Index where you live, you may even outdo Mother Nature with your indoor air quality!)
When building, choose pollutant-free materials to keep your air quality healthful. Consider investing in good HVAC systems. And again, plants are helpful—many of them perform double duty by cleaning the air for you while adding that visual connection to nature.
What are your favorite biophilia tips? How do you add biophilia to your home?