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biophilic design room-by-room: the living room

in biophilic room-by-room

As its name suggests, the living room is the beating heart of the home, the room where many daytime activities take place. But with so much happening in one single space, it risks feeling restless and confused rather than joyful and nurturing.

So let’s look through the lenses of biophilic design and explore how to design a truly restorative and enjoyable living room…

Cozy corner in a living room, created next to a window with a soft armchair and a tall tree.
Credit: Pampa

a space for others, and for the self

When designing living rooms, the accent is often put on making sure there’s enough extra seating for entertaining. While for some people this is a regular necessity, for many others entertaining is something that happens only a few times a year. In other words, it’s like designing for the just in case rather than for the must have!

On a daily basis, the living room should feel like a warm hug, embrace us in a moment of comfort, and give us a chance to feel _ truly at home_. In practice, feeling truly at home goes in two directions. One is connecting with the other members of the family, listening to each other and sharing thoughts and ideas.

The other is finding some quiet time for the self. In fact, carving a personal cozy corner at home is essential for wellbeing. And the living room can be the perfect space to host one! Essentially, a personal cozy corner is a space to reconnect with oneself while disconnecting from everything else. From a biophilic design perspective, it’s the quintessential example of refuge.

Soft sofa in a bright living room with wooden back wall.
Credit: Globewest (via Instagram)

the elements of a biophilic living room

With the role of living rooms being clarified, let’s look at how biophilic design helps to achieve that.

Natural outdoor views, rich textures, sensory stimulations, natural shapes, appropriate lighting, a water feature are all biophilic elements that create a calm and restorative atmosphere.

This soothing ambiance will facilitate recuperation after a long day, make it more enjoyable to interact with others intentionally…in short it will create that comfortable sensation that turns a house into a home. When entertaining, this welcoming base can be made more energizing with an uplifting scent and a change in lighting.

Earthy living room with a stunning view of a lakeside.
Credit: Marmol Radziner
Biophilic living room flooded with natural light, with a curved wall giving a sense of calm.
Credit: MIM Design
Biophilic living room with wooden built-in bookshelf with draping plants.
Credit: Hueb Ferreira Arquitetos

A note on outdoor views. Having a vista over a dazzling landscape or a lush garden is certainly a plus. And if this is the case, furniture should be placed accordingly. But if your view is not nearly as impressive, you can still create your own natural view on a balcony – if you have one – or even indoors, creating a garden room moment.

Greenery and juxtaposed textures also create interest, catching the eye and engaging all senses. Speaking of greenery, oversized branches might be the easiest way to create a biophilic vignette bringing a forgotten corner to life! If foraged outdoors, they’ll also reference the surrounding environment, creating a connection with it.

Biophilic living room with plenty of soft juxtaposed textures and an oversized branch decorating the space.
Credit: EyeSwoon
A tonal juxtaposition of textures: rough stone vase over a wooden stool next to a soft armchair.
Credit: Cereal
Oversized branch styled over a wooden stool in the corner of a room.
Credit: Colin King

organizing for real life

Being the theatre of so many activities, the living room will need to be organized accordingly.

Appropriate storage for books and magazines, baskets for kids’ toys etc. will make it easy to keep the room neat at all times. And there’s nothing like a cluttered space to make the mind restless and uncomfortable! So yes, finding the organization system that works for you and your needs is a step towards wellbeing in itself!

Storage can also be an additional occasion to introduce texture and interest, making the act of tidying a little more enjoyable.

Wooden side table with hidden storage containing a blanket.
Credit: Bolia

To summarize, the living room is – at the same time – the space to gather with friends, spend time with family and connect with oneself. A design incorporating nurturing biophilic elements is a good base for this space to respond to such varied needs, while setting an authentic home ambiance.

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