Bringing the outdoors in

A designer’s guide to embracing biophilic design


Biophilic design doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, I know. It’s the fancy term for designing your space with natural materials and actual nature to blur the line between inside and out.

The events of the last few years have brought a lot of attention to the health benefits of bringing greenery indoors. It improves our mood; our physical well-being; even our focus, productivity and ability to heal (Billings and Gatersleben, 2015).

But for those of us—guilty as charged—who don’t have a green thumb, it can feel like money wasted when that new peace lily you purchased to cleanse the air is now fighting for its life.

Luckily, there are more ways than one to nod to nature without using actual greenery IIIandIII there are plants that provide all the benefits with minimal maintenance for when you’re ready to dip your toes into being a plant parent.

Let’s dive in.

Favor soft natural materials over hard or synthetic ones

You don’t need to be staring at a sea of plants in your living room to be connected to nature. Choosing natural materials for your furnishings is grounding, and makes the introduction of more plant-life into the space more cohesive. Here’s how:

Swap out a metal or glass coffee table for a wooden one with a light stain or natural finish.

Opt for linen window treatments and bedding, and natural-fiber rugs like jute or wool.

Choose a natural stone backsplash, countertop or flooring in your kitchens and mudrooms.

Add subtle natural accents to a wall in the form of grasscloth wallpaper or limewash paint.

Increase access to natural light

If you are in a position to add windows or skylights to your home, go for it. No one ever wished they had less natural light.

If you’re not so fortunate, make the most of the light you do have by lightening up your window treatments with sheer or semi-sheer curtains, instead of blackout or light-filtering ones. Second, add mirrors throughout your home and position them opposite the windows. These will reflect and bounce light around the room, giving the illusion of having more windows than you really do.

Finally, incorporate tasteful sunlamps into your darkest rooms (dimly lit office spaces are a great place for these) so that you don’t enter a midday, sun-deficient slump.

Invest in hardy plants and cut flowers

For those terrified of plant maintenance, succulents are the way to go. They can thrive in both direct or indirect light and only require watering once every two to four weeks. They also come in an array of gorgeous colors and forms.

Watering tip: Wait until the soil is fully dry, and then drench the plant, or dunk it in water and let drain.

Pothos plants are vine-like and leafy. They add a punch of green beauty and are super easy to propagate in soil or water. They only require direct low light or indirect low light, so they don’t need to crowd your window space to thrive. These are my favorite plants to cut trimmings from—add them to clear glass vases throughout the home.

Place a few cut stems in water and watch them grow a beautiful root system. Free decor is always a plus.

Monstera plants are guest favorites with their large decorative leaves. They’re also plant-parent favorites for their easy maintenance.

Place these beauties in medium light, and water once every one to two weeks after the soil is completely dry.

When it comes to cut flowers, you can’t go wrong with a beautiful bouquet. A simple bunch of tulips or a more elaborate display of wildflowers adds whimsy, romance and a pop of color to any room, and only requires some fresh water every two to three days for maximum life.

Pro tip: If you have a tendency to overwater, invest in planters that self-drain to save you (and your plant) from yourself.

That’s it. Three simple ways to experience nature even when you can’t be sunbathing. Implement just one of these tips and your health will thank you. You don’t have to wait until your workday is done to get outdoors and soak up all that nature has to offer. Follow these easy-to-implement guidelines and reap the benefits all day long.

Rachel Acevedo is a Hawley, PA-based interior designer who combines interior design with life design. Rachel believes that the right surroundings can transform your mindset and your life, allowing you to achieve growth mentally, emotionally and physically. She is committed to curating a design process for each client that helps them live their most elevated life. Learn more at, or call 908/674-2890.

Our Country Homes, DIY, Biophilic Design


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