The phrase "biophilic design" on a mossy background

Design Trend: What is Biophilic Design?

Custom home design is changing in very subtle ways – naturally. The oversaturation of the modern farmhouse design trend and pandemic-related nesting habits lead many homeowners to embrace the look and feel of nature within their homes through biophilic design.

How Coronavirus changed home designs

Because of the pandemic, a lot of people are spending more time at home. Many are working from home, homeschooling their children, or taking sabbaticals from their jobs. And if they are spending more time at home, they want their homes to be more comfortable and pleasing to the eye.

The constant stress of the pandemic leads people to seek out calming, soothing colors palettes with natural tones. They’re moving a little bit away from the stark greys that were popular in recent years.

Enjoying an outdoor feeling indoors

“Biophilic” is a very technical-sounding term. But it’s just about being more natural and enjoying more of the outside in your indoor spaces.

It’s a trend I was naturally gravitating to as a designer.

Now I’m seeing more and more clients warming up to this idea as well. They want their homes to feel more natural. People are asking for this type of design, even though they don’t know the term.

Biophilic interior design includes a wide variety of nature-based design choices:

  • Warmer color palettes that often include blues and greens
  • Larger windows facing toward landscaping
  • Live plants indoors
  • Cabinetry design and unique wood selections
  • A “feature wall” made of wood or stone, or a plant-inspired wall covering
  • Natural tile selections
  • Decor and accessory selections

Biophilic design tries to get a natural feeling indoors. This could include larger windows to give a room a more expansive feel and connect the indoor space to an outdoor space. So the only thing between your indoor living space and your outdoor space is a large sheet of clear glass.

Biophilic color palettes

To find the best color choices, just look outside.

With biophilic design, the color selections and the decor items include warmer tones, as well as soft, earthy tones. Even taupes and greys can be utilized in warmer tones.

Greens and blues are popular choices to bring in the mix. Instead of a stark white, warm the shade up just a tad. You can still get the effect of bright white without getting a cold feeling.

Consider using real plants to bring genuine life and energy inside your home. You could also consider a floral or plant print on a wallcovering that gives the desired look. These efforts help you build that connection to nature.

“Biophilic” seems very clinical and strangely unnatural, but it’s all about nature.

Biophilic vs “modern farmhouse” design

The wildly popular modern farmhouse interior design trend included lots of black-and-whites and greys. Since its domination in the market hit so hard and fast, it hurt its ability to be a long-lasting trend. The design-related media outlets spent too much time focusing on these ideas, and decor manufacturers oversaturated the market with farmhouse accessories.

People often develop a negative view toward something that’s overly trendy – sometimes prematurely.

The modern farmhouse look is by no means dead. It’s still a nice look. But clients and designers started to gravitate to something different. We can still use elements of modern farmhouse designs, just with warmer, earthier tones – not so stark.

The timelessness of biophilic design

Modern farmhouse design became very stereotyped. It “timestamps” itself, meaning that people will always associate that style with a certain period of time. That’s fine if you want to follow the trends and redecorate often.

But if you want a long-lasting look, you might consider Biophilic interior design. It’s not a style that is easily stereotyped by a certain list of accessories or colors. Biophilic designs come together organically by listening to the natural desires of the homeowners.

Evidence of biophilic design has been going on forever. The original homes were part of nature, with natural products.

In the 1950s, biophilic design became very sophisticated in both styling and placement. Those mid-century designs used a lot of wood paneling, live indoor plants, stone flooring, and other natural elements.

But today’s modern homes use these elements more subtly. We’re not seeing wood paneling on all four walls. But we may see a “feature wall” with natural materials — maybe a slab of stone on one wall or some very nice high-grade wallcovering.

Paint colors and furnishings now tend to lean toward blue or green. Tiles and hardwoods choices also help give a natural feel.

So modern biophilic design isn’t using the exact same materials as mid-century design, but it’s still accomplishing the same design goal.

You’ll also see textured panels in cabinetry, which was something done a long, long time ago. People are spending more and more money on their kitchens now – more than ever. Cabinets are getting more custom and very unique to the home. We went several decades with everyone having the same general look to their cabinets, with just slight variations. But now, cabinet doors or back panels may have fabric or carved wood over the whole surface.

We’re stretching the boundaries of what we’ve always seen and trying to do something new. So small manufacturers of unique materials are getting these designs out to the public through social media, helping build new trends. So we can offer some really neat looks.

Keystone Creative is an award-winning residential design firm, specializing in whole-house transformations and new-home designs. The team reimagines kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, and even laundry rooms to fulfill homeowners’ dreams and increase the value of homes. Keystone Creative can handle the entire process, from the initial concept and detailed blueprints, to interior design and material selection, to construction and quality control management.

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