Studies show that we’re spending more time than ever indoors, which as we all know, is not great for our health and wellbeing. Research shows that artificial lighting and a lack of natural sunlight can even disrupt our internal rhythms. Although I didn’t need a scientist to tell that me that – my energy levels and general mood after I’ve spent all day in a poorly or fluorescently lit environment is a massive clue.
With the average American spending a minuscule 7% of their entire life outdoors, it’s clear we all need to get out more. Another 6% is spent in cars and we live a whopping 87% of our entire lives inside. That’s just half a day per week enjoying the benefits of the great outdoors. Ouch.
While we can all try harder to get out more, what happens when we need to spend time indoors? Especially those of us who work from home or in offices. Well, a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found simply spending time outside in green, natural environments can significantly boost your vitality by nearly 40%! So, let’s try and bring some of that goodness inside into our homes and enjoy increased physical and mental energy levels.
From letting in more natural light (it’s free and good for you!) to sharing your space with plants, here are 11 design ideas to help you feel the benefits of the outside, inside.
1. Connect your living space to the outside with glass sliding walls and doors.
What is the single biggest thing separating the outdoors from the indoors in your home? The walls of course! We could get rid of them all together but it might be ever so slightly problematic considering the fundamental purpose of a house is to provide shelter. Ok, next idea, let’s replace brick with glass.
Merging the divide between outside and in will instantly make you feel more connected with nature and using glass paneling instead of brick walls is a stylish way to make your space feel bigger and brighter. Installing sliding or folding doors means you can almost completely erase the line between you and the great outdoors. Just imagine sitting in your naturally lit living room with the warmth of the sun on your shoulders and the smells and sounds from the garden outside forming the backdrop to your day. I don’t know about you but I feel better already!
2. Put flowers and plants everywhere.
If you can’t take yourself outdoors, bring the outdoors to you! The addition of a few pot plants into your home can be instantly cheering. Think back to your high school science class and you’ll begin to understand why a little greenery can be such a mood booster: During photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen back into it.
Plants not only provide us with more oxygen and less carbon dioxide, they can also make the air a little cleaner. Research done by NASA found that certain plants filter out carbon monoxide and common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde. So if your boss gives you any trouble about that spider plant on your desk, you can explain it’s actually helping to reduce benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene levels in the air. And if that doesn’t work, just say it’s NASA approved.
3. Fill your home with sunshine.
Study after study shows that increased access to natural light can reduce stress, improve productivity and even help you get a better night’s sleep so letting sunshine into your home is way more than just a design feature. Larger windows, sliding glass doors and skylights are great for making your home feel fresh and spacious, but they can be expensive and require extensive construction work. And what about those of us who rent?
Caia is a simple solution to the problem and she’ll get to work right away – no construction, no builders and no mess. Just place her in a sunny spot and point her to where you’d like the sunlight to go. Caia will redirect that sunshine into your home day after day with no supervision necessary – she’s a low maintenance kinda gal.
Of course aesthetics are important when it comes to choosing how to furnish your home and Caia is no different. Her elegant form is Italian designed and her clean, minimal shape won’t detract from your home decor, in fact we think you’ll love her as much as we do! To find out more about Caia’s chic design, expert engineering and how she can fill your home with sunshine, click here.
4. Use natural and eco friendly materials.
What better way to connect with nature than by choosing materials which aren’t damaging to it? These days, going green doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style either; there are plenty of companies who expertly mix form, function and eco credentials. In2Green, for example, keep sustainability at the forefront with their range of super stylish home furnishings. We love their recycled cotton throws which helps keep pesticides and fertilizers out of the environment.
Think about what’s natural and what’s man-made in your home and you’ll realize there are plenty of opportunities to introduce natural fibers, textures and patterns. You could swap artificial carpets for sustainable wooden flooring, include wicker or bamboo seating, or even create an accent wall using local stone.
If you’re the creative type then the great outdoors will provide you with mountains of inspiration. Paint branches you’ve found on walks and place them in vases or even bring pinecones home from the park to create centrepieces! Bringing the outside in using natural elements will not only help you feel closer to nature but the earth will thank you for it too.
5. Use colors inspired by the outdoors.
Designers have long known that the color of our environment can have big effects on our moods and behaviours. Red is thought to be the most stimulating color of all whilst yellow is cheery and attention grabbing – which probably explains why so many fast food joints have ketchup and mustard colored logos!
If you want to introduce the calming and creativity-sparking hues of green into your home, don’t go overboard, a few splashes of color are enough. Inspire concentration by adding a few earth-toned shades in the form of a accent wall or some green accessories in the office. Perhaps a cactus or two on the desk and you should feel more connected to nature already.