3 key ways how natural materials can create a calm, energising home

Olivia Heath
Photo credit: Wood Window Alliance

From House Beautiful UK

Our home is our sanctuary; a personalised living space where we eat, sleep, make memories, spend most of our time and disconnect with the outside world.

Whether you're living in a one-bedroom flat or a four-bedroom house, our home is a backdrop to our lives, and we should ensure that it not only enhances our wellbeing but is also a pleasure to live in.

The reality, however, is that many homes suffer from a lack of natural light, have disproportionate amounts of synthetic materials and little or no connection to the outdoors, which doesn't necessarily make our homes the places of comfort we want them to be.

Keeping wellbeing in mind, when it comes to styling our home, we should embrace Biophilic Design. This is the idea of using natural materials to give us wellbeing benefits and improve our human connection to nature.

It's all backed by science, with several studies proving that homes based on Biophilic Design principles have wide-ranging psychological and physical benefits, from improving sleep to reducing stress levels.

Photo credit: Wood Window Alliance

But the question remains: how can we incorporate the principles of Biophilic Design into our home? Well here, we draw on the expertise of Tony Pell, chairman of the Wood Window Alliance, who reveals exactly how to use natural materials to create a calm and energising environment.

1. Use natural materials

Over the last 20 years, our homes have become significantly less healthy due to a build-up of chemicals in materials, fixtures and fittings. However, from living 'raw' lifestyles, to the growth of urban gardens and use of chemical-free products, we are beginning to recognise the effect the materials we choose have on our feelings of wellbeing and happiness.

In fact, almost half of homeowners (49 per cent) believe having natural materials in their homes makes them feel discernibly happier than when surrounded by artificial materials, according to research from the Wood Window Alliance.

Using natural materials, like silk or wool, or even water-based finishes, can do a lot to reduce toxins in the home. A simple but impactful way to bring nature into your home is to replace PVC windows with those made from solid wood, such as timber. This is not only more environmentally friendly, but the intrinsic beauty of timber is more aesthetically pleasing and will bestow a great deal more character upon your home.

2. Embrace the love of Lagom

When it comes to home decor, embrace the love of Lagom - a Swedish way of living that revolves around only taking what you need in order to lead a more sustainable life and find balance.

Declutter your home and embrace the mantra of 'reduce, reuse and recycle' to minimise the amount of materials you are using. An organised, tidy home will create a clear mind, and at the same time help to reduce your environmental impact on the world.

Photo credit: ninakullberg.com

3. Bring the outdoors in

The expansion of urban environments, lack of outdoor space and technological advances have led to us spending more and more time indoors. As a result, we are becoming increasingly disconnected from nature. However, according to the latest research from the Wood Window Alliance, 82 per cent of people feel happier when surrounded by greenery.

When it comes to home design, you should actively seek to redress this balance and restore your connection with nature by bringing the outdoors in. An easy way to do this is to increase the number of plants and flowers you have in your home. Opt for low maintenance houseplants, such as potted lavender, asparagus ferns and cacti, to bring greenery effortlessly into your home.

Alternatively, why not open your home up to the garden with floor-to-ceiling glass doors? There are a range of glass patio doors available to suit any home – from Georgian paned traditional French doors to modern sliding or bifold doors. While bi-folding doors can be folded right back to open almost the entire wall, sliding (or lift and slide) doors offer an uninterrupted view when closed and can still provide a generous open area. However, the simplest solution is the oldest one, French doors, just make sure you allow enough space to open them.

When we improve our sense of nature, directly or indirectly, we will benefit from the psychological and physical wellbeing effects that a more calming, restful, restorative and energising space creates.

Photo credit: Wood Window Alliance

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