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 FP Innovations. Incorporating certain outdoor elements in our décor can improve our health and mental well-being, they claim.
For those of us that don’t live in proximity to 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 homes from winter and summer weather extremes, keeping them open and allowing the sunlight to stream in has health benefits. Research links exposure to natural light to an elevation in mood, weight loss and other positive health outcomes, according to Augustin and Fell.
2. Bring the outdoors indoors
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 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. Here are other air filtering recommendations with plants from NASA.
3. The sound of water
The sound of water soothes and relaxes us. “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,” according to Zachary Slobig, writing in Psychology Today.
Now, if you don’t live near a body of water, you can still derive the benefits of the sound of water by incorporating water features in your home’s interior decorating.
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.