SBID advocates bringing the wellbeing movement indoors to create a healthy home
The Society of British & International Design (SBID) advocates the extension of the wellbeing movement into our homes and outlines the key factors for creating a healthy home, an important consideration in the modern world. Modern homes are laden with toxins in carpets, mattresses, furniture and fabrics which are known to disrupt our endocrine systems.
Scientists have found that a typical sample of carpet dust contains high levels of pesticides, heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and lead levels sometimes 18 times the official safety threshold. A substantial part of our lives is spent within our homes, making it an important contributing factor to our overall health. In order to neutralise the effects of high levels of toxicity in our homes, SBID presents the key ways in which we can improve our home environments to create a safe, restorative and regenerative sanctuary that provides both physical and emotional support.
We spend around 25 to 30 years in bed in a lifetime, as such, SBID member Vispring insists that utmost importance is placed on your sleeping space.
Vispring recommends looking for organic, natural mattress fillings, such as wool, cotton, mohair, cashmere, horsehair, bamboo and silk. Wool fibres have a composition that is unique in nature and unmatched by synthetic alternatives and, as a result, works in harmony with the body, keeping you warm in winter and cooler in summer, to enhance the quality of your sleep. Cotton is used for its natural breathability and absorbency. Mohair, the fine wool-like fibre from Angora goats, is chosen for its durability and insulation. Cashmere adds a unique softness and a luxurious feel. Horsetail, which acts as millions of tiny springs, can be blended with these other natural fillings to create beds with incredible breathability, softness and support. All these natural materials will work in harmony with your body to give you the best possible sleep, are all sustainable and will make a substantial contribution to your overall wellbeing.
Natural fabrics should be extended to furniture and soft furnishings. Lucy Cann from Dadar Fabrics suggests virgin New Zealand wool which is inherently inhospitable to household bugs, and linen for its anti-allergenic properties. Additionally both are natural dehumidifiers and can hold up to 20% of their fabric weight in moisture before feeling wet.
Masterpiece Superb bed by Vispring Choosing natural finishes such as timber and stone for your walls and floors right through to furniture made from real, minimally processed materials providing natural, colours, patterns and textures help to create a positive environment.
Technology is inescapable in modern life but new innovations mean that Smart Technology can play a major part in our health and wellbeing. From energy efficient and low emission heating, cooling and ventilation systems with simple and user friendly controls, intelligent security systems designed to keep the occupants safe and secure along with audio visual systems designed to entertain and create a happy and relaxed mood for everyone in the home.
Andrew Butler from Icon Connect suggests that by incorporating sensors, the indoor environment can be monitored to achieve the best results for occupants. All systems sit on a network system designed to interact with the occupants for ease of use and as a direct compliment to how they live, whilst keeping energy bills down for an overall better quality of life.
Connection to nature
Biophillic design, based upon the principle that humans have an innate connection to nature is key to increasing wellbeing within a space. Richard Louv, author of The Last Child in the Woods states, “the more high-tech we become, the more nature we need” and prescribes nature to treat a range of modern afflictions. With many working long hours in artificial light and with shorter daylight hours in winter, it is important to bring nature into our homes to reduce stress, enhance creativity and clarity of thought.
Lesley McMillan, SBID Education Design Council Chair recommends the use of indoor plants not just for their visual connection to nature, but also to purify the air and provide natural scents. Areca Palm, a common household plant and Philodendron works wonders in clearing the air. However it’s not just plants that make a space biophillic, it’s the collective story of how you interweave nature into the home, using natural elements, materials and flow.
The provision of natural light and views of nature are additional important components contributing to a healthy home, connected to nature. Dr Vanessa Brady OBE, Design with plants Plants and natural light in the home Smart Home by Icon Connect founder of SBID recommends maximising the window height in period properties to flood the interior with light, as well as the visual benefits we gain from natural light, we are also less reliant on secondary light sources, effectively in reducing lighting bills.
Brady advises looking for glass walls in new-build properties. which provide the added benefits of heat retention, UV filters and acoustic glass which allows building to be built in busy areas, close to noisy roads and airports without damaging the wellbeing of those living within the home.
Colour and art
SBID launched its Colour Council in 2017 to advise on both the science and emotion of colour, showing how design is dependant on the understanding of both. Colour combinations have the power to evoke certain moods; productivity, relaxation and feelings of safety can be enhanced through the application of specific colours.
Colour can also affect temperature perception, cool colours, such as blues and greens are perfect for bright, south-facing rooms whereas warm tones generate a feeling of cosiness and are advised for north-facing rooms which are likely to be colder.
Scottish Bute fabrics are an excellent example of natural textiles with some of the most technically advanced woollen fabrics in the industry. The palettes of vibrant colours inspired by the Isle of Bute’s array of different landscapes: heather-covered moorland, lush rolling hills, wild forests, sweeping beaches and an ever-changing seascape and textures. To ensure precise colour matching, the company checks colours under simulated natural daylight from around the globe.
Finishing touches can be made by hanging artwork in a calm, natural colour palette, inspired by flora and fauna to bring a feeling in into the home.