In Oliver Heath’s book ‘Design a Healthy Home – 100 ways to transform your space for physical and mental wellbeing’ interior design is linked with nature as a way of increasing our health and happiness. In last week’s blog I covered tips Oliver shares when considering colour, pattern, and texture, as well as the activities and connections we make with others in our homes.
This week I look at the elements of nature such as water, air, heat, and sound, how we embrace this effectively into our décor and the subsequent consequence on our physical and mental health.
Circadian Rhythm is described as our internal body clock which helps regulate our body temperature and impacts our appetite and behaviour. We can influence our circadian rhythm by focusing on varying levels of lighting at home, such the temperature of our bulbs, incorporating smooth materials like tiling that bounce natural light as well as reflective mirrors. Lighting should be blue toned in the morning to help awake and alert us, whilst in the evening warm orange moods allow us to rest. The best way to have a healthy home is exposure to natural light, make the most out of your windows and doors letting as much light in as possible. In the winter months, Oliver recommends additional lighting such as fairy lights or a fireplace which can enhance the relaxing atmosphere and allow your eyes to adjust to darker days.
All spaces in the house should have different lighting options so that they can be adapted to fit your needs
A healthy home reassures a good night’s sleep, and according to Oliver the bedroom should be haven and tranquil hideaway. The bed is always a focal point so ensure you have a good quality mattress, sumptuous soft fabrics and bedding that feels soothing, as our sense of touch is strongly associated with our emotions. Do not hesitate to spend on extra essentials like blackout curtains, draft excluders, and wooden shutters as these have all been shown to dramatically reduce light, which in turn helps aid a restful sleep. Oliver recommends removing all clutter in the bedroom with strategic and clever storage solutions, as a messy room will distract and keep our minds active. Try to keep the bedroom as tech free as possible allowing your space to feel like reprieve from the stress of everyday life meaning your brain can recuperate.
‘Living in untidiness keeps the mind active, as it visually reminds us that we have things to do.’
The sounds of nature are proven to reduce anxiety and agitation, so finding ways to present these in your home is a wonderful way to support health and wellbeing. Firstly, cut out the noise that you do not need, such as traffic and the neighbourhood. Soundproof your home with glazing and sound absorbing materials like textured fabric drapery or soft fluffy rugs. Designate quiet areas in your home that are solely a place to chill and introduce soothing natural sounds by affixing a bird box feeder to your garden, balcony, or window ledge.
To design a healthy home Oliver suggests paying close attention to the bathroom, inserting details that will make it feel like a spa sanctuary and peaceful retreat. Welcome soft lighting and calming scents within your décor, as well as plant life which will complement a sensory experience. The ripples and gentle movement of water has restorative effects so do not feel restricted when decorating, add a water feature elsewhere in your home to strengthen the sanctuary vibe.
Oliver gives some practical advice when it comes to heat and warmth in the home, stating you should place furniture away from heating devices such as radiators to ensure your space is ultra-cosy. This also helps reduce energy waste and a snug home is one that diminishes the risk of damp and mould. Eradicate any draughts through gaps under doors or windows with excluders, these are flexible and convenient as they can be removed and stored away during the summer months.
Keeping the air we breathe as clean and heathy as possible is crucial for our mental and physical wellbeing. One simple way to achieve this is to regularly open windows and doors. We can also aid the air quality in our homes through dehumidifier appliances and extractor fans which will help balance moisture levels in the air. Carefully select materials in your home, for example choose eco-friendly paints with zero VOC (volatile organic compounds), look for green guard certified products and when possible, go for vintage and antique furniture as these will have emitted most of their toxins.
Many plants work hard to detoxify the air we breathe, removing indoor air pollutants and helping create a healthy living space
Undoubtedly the number one piece of advice in ‘Design a Healthy Home’ is to bring the outdoors in with lots of natural plant life. By involving greenery and botanicals to your space you lift the vitality, productivity, and creativity in the home. Plants add texture and draw you in with an insight of relaxation that you would normally find in a natural setting. There are many pragmatic uses to plant life as well – use them a room divider along the floor or when hanging from the ceiling. You can place them at different heights to replicate how they grow in real life, and more recently the green wall trend has been an impressive idea in absorbing noise disturbance.