When we think of interior design and décor, most of us contemplate the aesthetics, or how the home will appear to the eye. We’re missing the boat, according to Dr. Sally Augustin and Dr. David Fell of FPInnovations. Incorporating certain outdoor elements in our décor can improve our health and mental well-being, they claim.
Of course it doesn’t take researchers to tell us how being in our favorite outdoor environment brings instant relaxation. Whether that’s fishing in Ship Creek or taking to the trails at Kincaid Park, it’s a safe bet that most of us can instantly recall that feeling of complete relaxation that washes over us while we’re in nature.
Here in Southcentral you may have amazing views of Turnagain, Lucile Lake or Pioneer. If you are fortunate enough to live near one of these, arrange your furniture so that it looks out on that view and then throw back the curtains.
For those of us that don’t live in proximity to Southcentral’s gorgeous natural settings, there are other simple ways to add a pop of nature to our homes.
1. Take advantage of natural light
While heavy draperies help insulate Southcentral residents from winter weather, keeping them open and allowing the sunlight to stream in (when we have it!) has positive benefits. Research links exposure to natural light to an elevation in mood, weight loss and other positive health outcomes, according to Augustin and Fell.
Finally, increasing the amount of interior natural light may also boost your productivity ― good news if you work from home.
2. Bring the outdoors indoors
Adding living plants to your interior decorating scheme is good for both physical and mental health. Not only do plants trick our psyches into thinking about spring and summer, they also provide an additional health benefit by cleaning the air.
According to the EPA, the air inside our homes may be more polluted than outdoor air. While carbon monoxide is one of the most common toxins in the air in our homes, formaldehyde and benzene are emitted from the carpet and furniture. Pesticides, cleaners and other household products also leave toxins in the air.
Using plants to rid the air in our homes of these health hazards is a process known as phytoremediation. NASA performed studies of indoor air in our space stations and came up with a list of different types of plants for removal of the various toxins in the air.
Flowering plants, for instance, remove benzene from the air, so consider growing gerbera daisies or chrysanthemums in the home. Concerned about formaldehyde? Pot up some golden pothos, philodendron and spider plants and place them throughout the home. NASA recommends 15 to 18 plants (in 6- to 8-inch containers) per 1,800 square feet of living space in the home.
3. The sound of water
The sound of water, whether it’s falling rain or crashing waves, soothes and relaxes us. Now, that quick shower before your morning commute to work isn’t going to cut it.
“Studies indicate that being in a coastal or marine setting causes a six point increase on the 100-point happiness scale compared to urban settings. This is a greater happiness boost than reported at other nature settings such as farms, mountains, or woods,” according to Zachary Slobig, writing in Psychology Today.
Now, if you don’t live close enough to a body of water to hear it lapping on the shore, you can still derive the benefits of the sound of water by incorporating water features in your home’s interior decorating. Indoor standing waterfalls add a dramatic flair to large spaces while table fountains will provide the sound of water even in the tiniest of spaces.
It’s well known that being in nature helps us heal, relax and restore. What is becoming better known is that bringing the elements of nature indoors provides many of the same benefits.