Design with Nature for a healthier you

Biophilic Design… Yeah, sounds unpleasant, I know, but it is a simple approach that is easy and very rewarding for us. Biophilia means ‘love of life or living systems’ or simply incorporating natural elements into our man made environments. Be it interiors or city planning, adding natural elements makes us mentally, physically and emotionally healthier, not to mention more relaxed and productive.

Simple test below: By simply looking at the two different landscapes below,  we can gauge our minds response to each…

mountain lake hike

The above mountain landscape with its colors, greenery and lake quickly relax you…

busy chicago street
photo: Michael Schmidt/Sun-Times

The urban scene above is busy and creates a bit of anxiety as we can imagine the sounds, traffic backlogs, deadlines to meet… Interestingly, ones eyes gravitate towards the trees and we can feel the subtly comfort they provide…

These two images are extremes of course, but the emotions exhibited form them are still relevant. And some of the benefits from utilizing Biophilia are:

  • Reduction in illness and absenteeism
  • Staff retention
  • Increased healing rates
  • Increased retail sales
  • Less stress/fatigue

To learn about Biophilia in depth, visit here.

To apply some oversimplified guidelines but still reap the benefits, provide the as much of the below as you can in your interior spaces.

  • Introduce live plants into your home or office
  • Use natural materials (even imitations, like a wood print laminate will have a beneficial effects)
  • Use warm, earthly  colors
  • Provide as much daylight as possible.
  • Provide for a view of the outdoors overlooking greenery.
  • Allow occupants to change their immediate environment (temperature, light, etc)

It is that simple to a more relaxed, happy, productive and healthy self..

Design Your Perfect Outdoor Space

The outdoors, the final frontier….

Well, at least a place you should think about investing some money/time in. Form great landscaping to patios to outdoor kitchens and entertainment, your back yard can provide for extra square footage that can be utilized to add comfort and function.

Depending on the available area you are able to work with, one can create a compact retreat, where you can relax and escape from the fast paced world around you,

 

to a ‘mega entertainment complex’ right in your back yard where you can entertain, impress or just provide solitude and comfort for all your friends  and family.

 

When able, bringing the outdoors inside is my favorite approach, and can be most dramatic and appealing.

 

 No matter your style, scope or budget, you can design and enjoy a great outdoor retreat right in your own back yard. It is never too early to start planning your outdoor oasis….

 

Interior Design and Color Response Part II

As promised, below is the few additional colors and their perceived response in us. If you missed the first post, or want to check out the rest of the spectrum, read about them here.

color wheel


Orange is a declassifier causing other colors to have an appeal to a greater number of people. Orange works great on the interior as a indicator of informality such as in a family room or kitchen and even some bedrooms. If you need a bit of an upscale orange use terra-cotta, the darker and deeper red-browns feel more expensive.

 

Red excites the pituitary gland, aids in infant brain development, increases appetite, distorts perception of time and fragrance and increases sexual interest. Men looking to attract women should use blue-based reds, women looking to attract men should use yellow based reds. The darker the red, the higher the socioeconomic group it attracts.

 Green is the most widely used color in nature and we, in turn, respond most favorably to green most of the time. It tends to make us relaxed (just don’t use too much yellow) and secure. Makes most foods look better, except sweets. Dark greens are classifiers and a color like hunter green may only appeal to a very small percentage of the population. And do not use green to solicit for donations as it is the least effective….

While gray is a great neutral color to allow for easy integration into the home or office and is known to increase creativity in creative individuals, is linked with success and power and is a strong classifier. The overuse of gray, especially certain shades in a long term use environment, can lead to a ‘loss of direction’ and create a dull, moody and a mildly depressive space.

The above are just a few of many findings on each color, and of course the exact blend that makes up a color can change it’s effect on us. Color psychology can get involved and sometimes just keeping a few good points in mind while selecting colors for your use is more than enough to accomplish the intend results.

Hope this was interesting and may find itself useful to you in the future.

Interior Design and Color Response

A few interesting tidbits about our response to color…

color wheel

Yellow, seems as a cheer me up color but in fact it is more of ‘stress up’ color. Children cry more in yellow rooms, people needing chemical adjustment need more in presence of yellow, you will lose your temper faster and for longer in a yellow room, yellow bathroom walls may interfere with make-up application. Use the color sparingly and mostly in transitional spaces.

Black is all about power, dignity and sophistication. Black is equally accepted by all socio-economic groups and like it’s opposite, white, can almost always be used with all other colors successfully. Use in interiors is limited and works best as an accent and or piece of furniture, much more well received for commercial exteriors and buildings, while not so much for residential projects.

Deep sky blue releases 11 natural tranquilizing hormones in the human brain. Pale blue encourages fantasy and reduces the perceived environmental temperature. Dark blue has a historic reputation for trustworthiness and responsibility. Most importantly, don’t use blue if you wish to sell your home reasonably quickly, but do eat off a blue plate and in a blue dining room if trying to lose weight.

Brown is all around us in nature, thus it is well received. Light values of brown are great work environments and many values are great for your living spaces. The very light browns reflect the most light making them environmentally sound for energy conservation. And of course brown is great in and around food, as we eat and drink brown.

Will add some more colors later, but for now, please remember to look up into that deep blue sky and let your stress just melt away!

 

Universal Design – Barrier Free Design for All

Universal Design is not on most peoples radar simply because it is not flashy or glitzy and does not get the media’s attention like the cool shiny stuff. But make no mistake, it is a powerful  design solution to living comfortably and barrier free from childhood through the golden years. It is not a certain color or brand or piece of tile, it is a set of standards to design by, giving the occupants an unobstructed and easier way around their living spaces.

Barrier free bathroom

Simple things like no step showers, proper door hardware to allow for ease of access, lowering heights on commonly used equipment to allow the  wheelchair / scooter user and or kids easier reach. All these Universal Design elements can be integrated into standard beautifully designed interiors. These design elements don’t shout at you, they just do their job quietly, well hidden and integrated within the overall design.

Ageing in Place can be life’s next great experience of freedom, after your drivers license! Not many really want to leave their homes just because it is getting harder to turn on a faucet or it is difficult to get in and out of a tub, and why should we? By simply using Universal Design principals in your own home you will allow yourself the ease and availability to stay in your home much longer, if not indefinitely.

ada handle

Don’t wait till you absolutely need to incorporate Universal Design principals in your own home, but rather ask for these elements to be integrated in your design now, and at every opportunity.  Living where we wish and how we wish can be easily achieved by simply planning ahead and using the right approach. So go ahead, treat yourself to a curb-less shower!

A quick video on a Universally Designed Kitchen…

A quick video on a Universally Designed Bathroom…

Further Reading…

 

Home Bar Design

Home Bars are on of my favorite areas to design in a home or a commercial setting. To me the Home Bar, after the Kitchen, is the hub for entertaining. A place to allow yourself to feel like an ‘escape’ from the traditional Kitchen island or the Living Loom couch. A Home Bar can be placed almost in any space, including the Kitchen, which makes them very flexible, allowing for a wide range of applications. The designs themselves should blend into the homes design scheme but always offer something ‘exciting’ or ‘new’ for the eye to gravitate towards. The below design progression from 2D design drawings to a 3D image, shows one possible bar design direction. The space the bar occupies is a transitional hallway leading from the Foyer to the Living Room to the Kitchen. This particular bar design is a collaboration with IBMS, using transitional style cabinets and wall hung art as a strong supporting element in the design.

Home Bar Design Drawings

It is of course one of hundreds of options, between layouts, hardware, appliances, materials and of course color and finish schemes. The best solution is always, in my opinion, the simplest one. This allows for functionality and elegance to be of most importance, without too many superfluous details. As one starts to ‘over design’ the end product could lose it’s appeal by being too heavy and or ornate as in relation to it’s surroundings. Of course that depends on the surroundings, as each home or space will have it’s own design scheme. And what is appropriate in a Mies van der Rohe space is a far cry from what is appropriate at Versailles.

Given that each space, budget and taste can be different it is the Designers responsibility to help in finding the equilibrium between function and form. Working with a qualified designer is very helpful and will be a time and money saver. As you wonder the internet and see the thousands of design images, please remember each one was created for a specific client with specific tastes, requirements, budget, etc. For your very own and unique Home Bar it is best to work with a qualified professional who can take your ideas and wants and transform them into reality.

Cheers!