Room to grow: what is biophilic design?

A majority of homes in Hawaii are designed to respect the surrounding land and nature, but a re-emerging design trend known as biophilic design takes this concept one step further.

The word biophilic comes from the word biophilia meaning “a love of nature,” and biophilic design refers to the way architects and designers incorporate nature into their building designs. 

And while the resulting designs are definitely beautiful, they’ve also been shown to improve the health and well-being of their occupants. Homes that  incorporate biophilic elements can decrease stress, heart rate, and blood pressure—while simultaneously increasing creativity, productivity, and wellbeing. 

A beautiful home plus health benefits? Sounds like the perfect Hawaiian home. 

Although the current trends in biophilic design incorporate the latest new smart home technology and construction materials, the design philosophy itself is not new. Some of the most famous biophilic designs are Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright, The Spheres in Seattle, Washington and University of Hawaii’s Mookini Library

Want to incorporate some nature-inspired design elements into your next home or remodel?  Here are four ways to turn your home into a biophilic wonderland. 

Find your green thumb

Daily contact with plants and vegetation is an immensely successful strategy for fostering the human-nature connection. Just the presence of plants can reduce stress, while also bringing fresh oxygen into the home.

While a few well-placed indoor plants is a great way to start, you can also incorporate an indoor garden into your design plans via a built-in indoor garden. Known by several names including green walls, living walls or vertical gardens, these architectural elements can be found on exteriors or interior walls and can range in size from just a few square feet to an entire wall. 


Let there be light

The Hawaiian sun is a very powerful resource when it comes to mental health, with benefits  including better sleep via  regulation of  your body’s natural sleep clock, decreased depression, increased vitamin D levels, and a strengthened immune system. 

Consider exchanging any large or blank walls with floor to ceiling windows, or even retractable glass panels. Choose doors that have windows instead of one solid piece, and consider adding skylights to the available ceiling space throughout the house. 

Need a little privacy sometimes? Work with your designer or architect to include plans for customized window coverings that can be adjusted throughout the day based on your preferences. 

Go Natural

Wood and natural stone are both biophilic elements that can be used all over the home. Reclaimed wood is a great resource for cabinets and shelving, and natural stone makes beautiful mantels, fireplaces, and design features.  

While an easy remodel option is replacing  laminate or otherwise outdated countertops with marble or soapstone, you can get the full back-to-nature effect by incorporating different pairings of wood and natural stone throughout your home. 

Fusion quartzite and river rock is a current favorite for designers, since the smooth surface of the rocks contrast beautifully with the organic nature of the wood. Together, these materials create a rustic and luxurious look that bring plenty of natural elements into the home.  

Don’t forget the outdoor space

A great way to connect with nature is to step outside, especially in Hawaii. Adding a wrap-around front porch, balcony,  patio or traditional lanai is an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors while remaining at home. Just imagine sitting in your new outdoor living space, and sipping your morning coffee as you watch a beautiful Hawaiian sunrise. Or imagine hosting friends and family for dinner and enjoying the scenery from your outdoor kitchen and living room.  

Let’s get started

Looking for the right team to help you integrate the latest biolphilic trends with classic Hawaiian home design? We’re here to help. Contact us today for assistance finding the best local professionals for your job, and make sure to use our free online calculator to start planning your budget!

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