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..

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!


Design is in the Details

Details are so very important in design. I like the below use of a bridle joint with the iron tie so much more than if a simple butt or miter was used. Although it would depend on style and application, but all else being equal , the added detail adds much character.

Bridle Joint wood corner

All  designs can benefit form even the smallest added detail. As in the case above, I can see a great Arbor with just this joint detail setting it apart from the rest.

Use of Color in Design…


Using the right color in an interior setting is harder than at first it may seem. Aside from any specific response one is looking to achieve in a specific Interior design project, selecting your colors will be based on one’s preferences, tastes, life experiences as well as based on a rooms or public/ commercial area’s function.  Although picking your favorite colors will be your the first choice, I believe in first getting your interiors intended function clearly spelled out and how you want your occupants to feel/act in that given space. Than see if your favorite colors will work to achieve the desired feel to your space or if there is a better option to evoke your desired response.

The Classic Colors Fan Deck

Color selections for one’s home interior must suite the occupants rather than some ‘palate’ of the year, as one may live with the scheme for a while. In a commercial setting, the right color can have the intended outcome of driving the customer to a purchase, or creating the right atmosphere for a productive or creative workplace. If not planned and chosen carefully the ‘wrong’ colors can fight against intended outcomes for any given area and it’s intended purpose. So with so much at stake it is sometimes vital to spend some time researching a colors effect on human behavior before choosing the perfect color scheme. I will eventually write some quick fun facts about color psychology and how each color elicits feelings/moods even actions in  a future blog post, for now one can find many sites which can be of help by searching the net.

In addition to choosing the right colors, it is imperative the lightning is taken into consideration or the final outcome may be very surprising, and sometimes not in a good way.  It is very important to select paint colors under the intended  light source, both natural and artificial, to gauge how it effects the hue, specially given different times of the day, and how the different light sources/levels may change that hue. See below the difference of the same color swatch under different lighting. On the left is daylight on the right is a fluorescent bulb.

lights effect on color
Sample color chip under different lighting can appear very different.

Clearly the above shows the importance of lights’ impact on a color. When you are choosing your paint colors than, please remember lights’ effect in addition to your personal preferences  as different rooms/spaces may require different hues and lighting to achieve the required response for each environments unique use.

paint color sample can

In the end the most important thing about color selection is to make it fun, and please collaborate / bounce off ideas with others if you need a second opinion. Definitely try a sample hue on a wall for a 24 hour cycle, specially if it’s a new and experimental color for you, to see how it lives throughout the test period and if it is truly something you will enjoy. If one is still apprehensive, consult a professional for advice, specially on commercial projects where time and access to a site is limited.