Interior Design for Life
Your interiors in 2020 should be all about designing for your lifestyle and your wellbeing. We ask the experts how…
Designing our interiors to promote wellbeing is not new – Feng Shui has been around for thousands of years, and the Danes have recently let the world in on their secret of contentment with hygge. But it is now taking on a life of its own and with good reason – dark, cluttered interiors are not only impractical but also bad for the psyche and can actually hamper productivity and mental health. It is a growing trend in offices and hospitals where research is proving just how much of a difference good design can make and we’re increasingly looking to incorporate it in our homes too.
Oliver Heath is an expert in biophilic design. The principle is that as humans we are all hardwired to want to be close to nature, and to feel at ease in a space we need to have that connection. Improving natural light, offering views onto nature, incorporating natural materials, ventilating spaces and creating restorative spaces are vital.
When used in educational settings, biophilic design increased rates of learning by 20-25%, improved test results, concentration levels and attendance; and in healthcare spaces, it reduced pain medication by 22%. In office design, productivity can be increased by 8%, and rates of wellbeing up by 13%, with the likes of Google and Apple incorporating the practice into its workplaces.
We don’t need to be installing vast water features in our hallways however, but can look at how to bring in elements of nature within each room – or even mimic it.
“Real nature is multisensory. You stand in a forest on the soft ground, you can hear birdsong and smell the pine. While mimicry won’t be as rich you can still bring in natural elements with stone tiles, wooden floors, and plants, and provide freshness with an atomiser. You can also recreate the sounds of the natural world,” says Oliver.
Moretti Interior Design founder Cinzia Moretti concurs that designing for wellbeing is about considering the five senses. “We work with our clients on what they want to evoke. For example, their memories of water on holiday. We also analyse how they react to colours – what it is that energises, or relaxes, them and how that should relate to what they want to do in a certain room.”
When designing for wellbeing, Juliette Thomas, director and founder, of Juliette’s Interiors in Chelsea, says: “Never underestimate the importance of natural light, air and space to move freely.” In terms of colours, she adds: “Look to soft muted shades to promote a feeling of calm, and rich, bright colours to uplift you and promote feelings of joy.”
Hand-drawn wallpaper company MissPrint, often uses natural reference points in its designs. It notes that patterns – particularly non-linear organic shapes are good for the mind. Add co-founders, Yvonne and Rebecca Drury: “Think about introducing some key features such as a washed wooden floor or a selection of stone and ceramic vases.”
“Growing plants really do make people happy and can add life and vitality to a home. Certain species are very good at purifying the air you breathe and filter out the chemicals and toxins. If you’re not particularly green-fingered you could choose low maintenance species such as Rubber Trees or Money Plants,” says Rebecca.
“Light cotton curtains or layered voiles are a great way to keep a bright airy feeling and allow diffused light to enter when the sun is strong or to add some privacy. You can always add a blackout blind behind the curtains/voiles in bedrooms.”
Lorna McAleer, interiors expert at window blinds brand Style Studio, notes that we are seeing several other trends tied in to this idea of wellbeing in the home, including slow living.
Related to the premise of the slow food movement, this trend is about encouraging more mindful living.
Slow home treatments include reading nooks and relaxed tech-free spaces as well as the re-emergence of a dining room away from the hustle and bustle of the kitchen. Comfy dining chairs over hard benches are key.
With many of us now living in urban areas, it has become the norm that often we are dealing with smaller spaces than we’d like and views that are less than ideal. Even those with more rural and spacious abodes can fall into a habit of clutter and design that hinders rather than helps.
But there is still much we can do to take back control of our interiors so that they really work for us and enhance our wellbeing and mindset.
Bring Nature In
Reference nature wherever you can – think wooden floors and furniture, marble table tops, natural rugs and add plants. Make the most of any views onto the world outside. Images of water and greenery can all help deliver our innate desire for nature.
People head to spas to restore body and mind. Create your own tranquil retreat with aromatherapy candles, spa baths and stunning waterfall or chromotherapy showers.
By using the loft for a master bedroom, you can create the perfect wellbeing space. Consider how you can get as much light as possible and use window treatments that will enable you to shut out the light fully come night time and throw open for the morning.
Tidy Spaces, Tidy Minds
Piles of clutter can make you feel overwhelmed by life. Streamline, organise and invest in beautiful and practical storage.
Colours and Patterns
Assess how different colours make you feel and use them to your advantage such as a bright and energising office space or a relaxing bedroom. You don’t need to go the whole way – a pop of your chosen colour in a sofa or chair may be enough.
Design for You
Look at how you use a space – some simple rearranging may help you to utilise your home better. Think about your journey through the home throughout the day – are there blockers that stop you from carrying out a task as easily as you should?