Biophilic kitchen designs are going to be big news this year and I am going to share with you my tips and tricks for not only getting the look but also reaping the benefits for your mental health and wellbeing.
I struggled for so long trying to work out what my personal style was. I loved elements of lots of different design styles and this always made me feel quite confused. Then back in 2019, I came across the term biophilic design and something just clicked for me. It was like the missing link that brought everything together. I noticed that the elements of each style that I liked all came together under the umbrella of biophilic design. If you’re not sure what biophilic design is, have a read of this post about bringing nature into your home.
When Magnet Kitchens approached me to be a brand ambassador for them this year and to style their Tatton Kitchen in the new Pebble colourway, I immediately knew what I was going to do. I pulled together some moodboards of kitchen products and styling accessories that I wanted to incorporate and it all revolved around biophilic design. You can see the moodboards in my last post here.
I had previously interviewed Oliver Heath for an article I wrote for designer magazine about biophilic design, which you can read here. Heath is a biophilic design expert and he said: “Increasingly, good design is less about how spaces look, and more about how they make us feel – seeking to improve both mental and physical wellbeing, through a multi-sensory approach.” I totally agree. I believe we need to take a much more human-centric approach to designing our homes and that goes for our kitchens too.
So I thought it might be helpful to share with you all, my tips for creating biophilic kitchen designs that not only look fabulous but that are also good for our mental health and wellbeing.
1. Choose Natural Materials
A large part of biophilic design is about creating a material connection with nature. So it’s very important that the materials we choose are natural materials that we would see in nature.
Wood is an obvious choice for kitchens, but also think of natural stone, metals, glass, and other materials such as cork, terracotta, and bamboo. We should choose sustainable materials that avoid unnecessary impact on the environment.
2. Incorporate Texture
When trying to create a multi-sensory environment, bringing in added texture is vital. There was a time when kitchens were super sleek and glossy. Everything was so polished and refined. But we are now seeing a return to a much more rustic approach and a lot of this has to do with our innate human need for tactile, haptic experiences.
There are many ways to bring texture into your biophilic kitchen designs. You may choose textured cabinet fronts or ones with a raw finish. Maybe you could opt for knurled door handles. Textured small appliances have been popular in recent years. Fluted or reeded glass in your cabinetry is definitely proving popular at the moment. Textured or 3D wall tiles have also been on the rise over the past few years.
If you are not planning a new kitchen right now, consider bringing in accessories that have a textured finish. Wooden chopping boards, textured mugs, fluted glasses or cork trays or trivets. Any tactile objects you can bring in will be effective.
3. Opt for Biomorphic Shapes and Patterns
The word biomorphic is derived from the Greek words bios (life) and morphe (form). It basically means shapes that take inspiration from nature and living organisms. This is another great way to create biophilic kitchen designs.
As humans, we have a visual preference for organic forms as this allows us to make connections to nature. So opt for softer curved lines and choose patterns that we may see in nature.
4. Go Big on Greenery
Plants are the first thing most people think of when it comes to biophilic design. Granted, adding plants and greenery is probably the single most effective way to create biophilic kitchen designs. However, as we are seeing, there is much more to it than simply adding a plant or two.
But adding plants to your kitchen is a great way to bring the outdoors inside. Plants have been proven to improve our mental state and sense of wellbeing and given that the kitchen is the heart of the home, it makes sense to bring plants into this space as well.
This can be done by dotting potted houseplants around on your kitchen surfaces, or hanging them from the ceiling or wall-mounting them if counter space is not abundant. You could just as easily use potted herbs if you want to make them more useful. If you’re feeling really adventurous and have the space, you may consider integrating a living wall or vertical garden.
And actually you don’t need any special kit to get the same effect as a living wall. You can just as easily fill your open shelving with a mixture of potted plants and potted trailing plants to give the illusion of a vertical garden. I did this when styling Magnet’s Tatton Kitchen and I think you’ll agree that the end result was pretty effective and made a great statement. It also looks really pretty. If you don’t have built in shelving like this, it could work just as well by adding open shelves one above the other and filling with plants.
5. Bring in Natural Light
Magnet’s Dunham Kitchen in Forest Walk
Natural light is one of the single most effective ways to boost our health and happiness. We have all heard of SAD and how badly a lack of natural light can affect us so it’s really important to bring in as much natural light as possible when creating biophilic kitchen designs.
But, what’s even better than that, is ensuring dynamic light as we would experience it in nature. Light has a dramatic affect on our circadium rhythm and as it changes throughout the day it affects our bodies’ reaction prompting us to release different chemicals and hormones which make us more or less alert and productive.
Creating opportunities for light to play in a way that mimics nature can be very effective. Consider allowing light to be diffused across surfaces, allowing for shadows to be created and for light to be dappled or to create reflections. Creating movement through light can be very powerful.
6. Use a Natural Colour Palette
Earthy colour palettes are experiencing a big moment right now. Partly because of the season, of course, but also because these warm and cosy colour again allow us to bring nature indoors. there is something very reassuring and comforting about these earthy hues and I think, given the turmoil that the world is in right now, we want out homes to feel like a calming and serene santuary, and colour is a very powerful way of evoking certain responses and emotions.
Magnet’s Somerton Kitchen in Forest Walk
Bringing these colours into the kitchen is really quite simple. We’ve seen a big surge in interest for blue and green kitchens over the past few years as we have looked to nature for inspiration. But if you aren’t yet ready to go for something quite so bold, perhaps consider opting for the new neutrals which offer a much softer colour palette.
The Tatton kitchen that I styled for Magnet was in Pebble which is a beautiful soft stone colour and it provides the perfect backdrop for biophilic kitchen designs. Magnet Create actually offers 20 different colours to choose from, many inspired by nature such as Forest Walk, Rose Bowl, Seagrass and Pistachio to name a few.
7. Focus on Air Quality
Air quality is another undervalued facet of biophilic kitchen designs. Obviously we all know and understand the benefits of fresh air but it’s slightly more nuanced than that. In order to recreate the sense of a natural environment, we really need to create subtle changes in air temperature and surface temperatures. We need to think about relative humidity and creating opportunities to feel airflow across the skin. We are really trying to mimic natural environments here.
8. Introduce the Sounds and Scents of Nature
When creating a multi-sensory environment we musn’t forget that biophilic kitchen designs don’t revolve solely around our senses of sight and touch. Research shows that exposure to the sounds of nature can be very beneficial to our mental health.
If you are lucky enough to live in the countryside and can open your doors and windows and hear the sounds of nature this is great. Otherwise, playing these sounds into your kitchen is a great alternative. Magnet’s sound bar is a sleek integrated speaker that was designed and developed exclusively for use in the kitchen. It blends seamlessly into a run of wall cabinets and allows you to listen to music or the soothing sounds of nature whilst cooking, homeschooling, working or, maybe not so much right now, entertaining.
Biophilic kitchen designs that offer a multi-sensory experience don’t have to be complicated and don’t necessarily require you to start from scratch. There are lots of little changes that you can make that will benefit your mental health and wellbeing. If you are planning a new kitchen though it is worth designing biophilic principle in from the very beginning.
For more information on the principles of biophilic design, check out this in-depth report compiled by Terrapin Bright Green.