Biophilia might be the hottest interior design trend you’ve never heard of. It is not a new term yet it has become the top design trend for 2020. Biophilia is the innate human desire to live with or closely to the natural world. It is scientifically proven that we are healthier when surrounded by nature or other living things. In other words, we feel best when our inside environment has elements that references and connect us to nature.

Since almost all of us are now self isolating at home, our need for nature has become even more important. You only need to look at what happens on a sunny day during the stay at home orders. Even though we are urged not to go outside, the parks, bike paths and trails become crowded with nature seekers. Our condo is located directly next to a bike path. On a sunny day the path is packed with runners, walkers, and families with kids in strollers and on bikes. One sunny warm day this week I counted 35 people walking by within a 5 minute time frame.

So, the question is, how do we incorporate biophilia into our homes? Plants and flowers are an obvious choice but biophilia is so much more than that. Here are seven ways to incorporate biophilia into your home for optimal health and pleasure. Many of these tips are so simple but can have a huge impact on your mental health.

incorporating biophilia into your home


1. Open the shades and let in the light

Natural light has a huge impact on one’s mental outlook. It is so easy to get complacent (or lazy) and keep the shades closed all day long. I know this is the case for many because I see this quite frequently. Most clients say they keep the shades down for privacy. The thing is, no one can see inside your house during the day time unless they put their face right against the window. Don’t believe me? Try and see inside your neighbors window during the day. It’s not possible.

2. Incorporate natural materials

We are so used to living with factory produced items in our homes, especially synthetic textiles. Next time you’re shopping for new pillows, drapery, bedding or a throw, think about purchasing it in a natural fiber such as wool, cotton, or linen. These 100% organic cotton sheets from The Company Store are so cute and also incorporate tip #3

organic cotton animal sheets

organic cotton animal sheets from The Company Store

Other natural materials such as rattan, wicker, rope are all trending now for everything from lighting to furniture.

rattan pendant light

Rattan pendant from Currey and Co.

3. Add some animal motif to your decor

Animals are another really big trend for 2020. They remind us of the natural world even though most of us are far removed from animals other than cats and dogs. At both High Point Market last Fall and Paris Design week in January, animal motifs were everywhere! Dishes, carpets, fabrics and furniture were all spotted with animal motifs. I saw primarily exotic African animals but also fish, horses, and reptiles (snakes). Ever wonder why the new NetFlix series “Tiger King” has become the number one documentary in history? The whole world has become obsessed with those big cats.

Gien animal print china

Gien animal print china

This beautiful animal motif china is a Pierre Frey design for the French china company Gien.

4. Bring in the colors of nature

Psychological studies reveal that the colors of nature are the most nurturing and easy to live with. When it’s time for a color update try incorporating blues, greens, and earthy tones such as browns or muted golds. For color inspiration all you need to do is look outside your window. Look to the trees, the sky or the colors of your garden flowers.

blue and green living room

5. Incorporate rounded organic shapes

In the natural world, there are very few “clean lines” or hard edged straight shapes. The natural world is full of organic, soft rounded shapes and forms. Rounded furniture has been trending for the past couple of years but curved shapes are especially appropriate now that we are all trying to comfort ourselves while isolating at home. The photo below is from the Pierre Frey showroom taken during Paris Design Week. Every single new furniture introduction for 2020 has soft edges and rounded shapes.

Rounded organic shaped furniture

6. Bring in natural objects or representatives 

This tip is as easy as opening the shades. Decorate by incorporating natural elements into your home. Shells, rocks, pine cones, natural wood, and crystals, look great gathered in bowls, glass canisters or propped up on books. Even if you don’t have the real thing, references to the natural world work just as well. Think about incorporating botanical art work or photos of the ocean, mountains or flowers. Anything that is representative of nature and prompts us to feel part of the natural world will work.

2019 color trends blue and red

Butterfly art work from High Point Market

7. Add plants and Flowers

Plants and flowers are what most people immediately think of when the word biophilia comes up. They clean the air, connect us to the earth and surround us with positive energy. If you are good with plants by all means fill your house with them. A common complaint I hear from my clients is that plants are too much work or they always kill them. In this case I suggest getting a very low maintenance plant such as a succulent. Talk to your local nursery and ask them to suggest a few plants that take very little attention or care. For my own home I bought a “living piece of art”. It is a large wall display made from a mixture of living and preserved moss. It takes almost zero care other than a spritz of water two to three times a year. Easy enough for me. This piece is from a company called Tree Masters. It is a “to the trade only” wholesaler but contact me if you are interested in purchasing.

living moss art

Now, more than ever, I think we all feel the need to get back to nature. This current lock down situation has been challenging for all of us. Since our condo is in an urban area I am missing nature WAY more than than shopping or even going out to a restaurant. As soon as it is safe, I want to take a really long walk on the beach, or go for a hike in the woods.

Living with nature, or biophilia, is deeply embedded in our DNA. If you are feeling the need to reconnect with the natural world then try incorporating one or more of these tips and see if it changes your mood for the better.


Linda Holt | Interior Designer & iPhone Coach

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