For some people, a room just isn’t complete without a touch of nature. It could be a couple of your favorite plants, a few vases of seasonal flowers or even a soothing tabletop water fountain. If that sounds like you, then you are already in sync with one of 2022’s home trends: biophilic design.
The term sounds very scientific, but proponents say the look boils down to adding elements that reflect your favorite things from the great outdoors.
Kamili Bell Hill calls herself a “design and plant enthusiast” who started her popular Instagram page two and a half years ago when she was looking for a way to use her creativity and to document her hobby. She has since left a law career to practice her passions. She has embraced the biophilic style and encourages others to think outside of the box for their own makeovers.
“It really is just bringing nature indoors into the design,” she says. “That can be anything beyond just plants. Plant print wallpaper, textiles with plants in them, any type of design feature that involves plants, you can bring in biophilic without bringing in actual plants.”
Bell Hill’s first real foray with the trend was a bathroom that needed some love. “It was just the junk zone, but it had beautiful, great light,” she says. “I have all these plants, so I literally created a little sanctuary in this bathroom.”
She used wallpaper with a bold botanical print and added plants she loves. In fact, one wall is literally a plant wall. “I used a combination of self-watering planters and floating shelves and plant rings, and you can’t even see the wall,” Bell Hill says.
Bell Hill brought in an elegant black-and-gold vanity and ended up with a perfect place for her daughters and herself to get ready for the day. The project has her spinning ideas of what to make over next. A spare bedroom is on the list, though she says she is still dreaming of creating a “living ceiling” in her own bedroom.
Dining al fresco, sort of
Sharon Lomas of A Story of Home says she feels most comfortable and at peace when surrounded by green landscapes and woodlands. So what better way to hold onto those feelings than creating her own happy habitat in her dining room? “As we use the dining room mainly in the evenings or for long lazy weekend lunches, I wanted to make the room feel cozy and inviting and somewhere guests would happily sit a while, relaxed and enjoy a long meal,” she says.
Lomas started planning the project by thinking about the colors and textures that she loves when outdoors. “Pulling all these answers together visually (by creating a mood board or Pinterest board) can really help you to see the beginning of a design scheme for your home, especially when designing a space from scratch.”
For her space, that meant a deep olive green for the walls, with the same color for her china cabinets to make the pieces appear to blend into the wall, allowing the colors to create the mood. To break up the green, she used navy velvet curtains, which also reflect the nearby water. Her home was built in 1861, so she wanted to honor that era with the design as well. “The Victorians were known for their eclectic decor, champions of the maximalist aesthetic with a love of deep, dark rich colors.” They were also known for a love of plants, which Lomas sprinkled about the space.
A Natural Nook
You don’t have to make over an entire room to add a biophilic aesthetic, and you can be on trend with natural materials that aren’t just plants.
Michelle of House of Maram created a nook where she could read or just relax. “Although we’ve slowed down these last two years, life can still be busy with work and family so it was important for me to find a way to create a serene environment in the house,” she says. “Like many people, I’m also conscious of making more sustainable choices and the biophilic approach fits well with that ethos.”
Her choice of an antique wood chair fits the bill on both counts. Michelle says she is drawn to warm weather and tropical plants, so she incorporated those into her design as well. “Regardless of the size of space you’re in, there’s always a way of changing your environment to connect with nature. Don’t be afraid to use faux plants if you need to. And think about incorporating curves and different shapes which mirror the natural world,” she says.
Michelle says going biophilic doesn’t have to be hard on the budget, either. “There are so many thrift stores, online charity sites and places with good value furniture and other decor.”
Of course sometimes, going big makes the kind of impact you might be seeking. Plant walls will give you that. They can also give you a lot of upkeep, depending on which types of plants you pick. UK-based property developers Sarah and Andrew Watt found a way to get the “wow” without all the work.
The Watts, of Alt St Property, develop coliving spaces and wanted to set up social areas in the house shares that reflect a place that they would have loved to have lived in, Sarah says. And biophilic design was a part of their plan. Because their properties are rentals, keeping plants alive and thriving can be a challenge. Enter faux greenery.
Sarah says they used the fake plants to build a “green arch” that can be seen from the front of the space when the blinds are open. “This is not only visually appealing, but also designed in a way to work with natural light within the room,” she says. Once the team decided on the kind of layout they wanted, they turned to IKEA for their Fejka vertical plant wall.
“It was easy to piece together in the shape that we wanted and also cut to size to fit around skirting boards and door trim,” Sarah Watt says. “To ensure that we didn't have a gaps coming through, my handyman painted the wall in a deep shade of green, featured in other rooms within the house, before laying the artificial plant wall on top and cutting to size.”
This project impressed not only the neighbors but also the panel who nominated Alt St Property as finalists for Coliving Deal of the Year in 2021.
Designer Laurel Chick pairs a grid of botanical prints above a fireplace with greenery to create this peaceful space in this North London home. The stone hearth and rattan basket that surround a comfortable chair reflect textures from the outdoors that fit beautifully in her design.
Chick replicated the natural feel for the home’s other rooms as well, with a vase filled with interesting sticks and twigs on a dresser to a rustic step stool used to hold the next tomes on your reading list. The entire flat blends seamlessly with the world around it.