Design for Wellbeing and Sustainability

'Designing for our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of the Planet'

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By Amanda Caley
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In this blog I consider how we can all make sure that our interior design schemes are the very best they can be in order to create a positive effect on our own wellbeing and at the same time support the wellbeing of the planet by using sustainable methods. It's not only satisfying to see the results that you can achieve in your interiors but fun too! I hope that you enjoy the blog and please do get in touch with me if I can help further in your design scheme planning process.

Interior with a forest mural depicting interior design for wellbeing and the natural environment being reflected in our homes

Designing for Wellbeing

As an Interior Designer I take the effects of my design schemes on human psychology, the feeling of wellbeing and the results on the environment of the products I recommend and install, very seriously. With a little extra thought and planning we can all make small changes to our homes and environment when planning the design, which can have significant impacts on both.

Recently I attended some very interesting talks discussing this very topic. All of the speakers agree that incorporating Biophilic Design and Sustainability into our design schemes is the way forward. As coined by Karen Haller "Back to Nature is the Future". Karen is a leading international authority in the field of applied colour and design psychology and the author of bestseller The Little Book of Colour, and one of her specialities is healthcare and wellbeing. Check out our home staging services here.
Incorporating Biophilic Design into our interior design schemes can have a profoundly positive effect on our health and wellbeing and the wellbeing of the Planet.

Oliver Heath, an industry recognised expert in the field of sustainable architectural and interior design presents some enlightening research-led statistics on these benefits.

"There have been numerous studies over the last 35 years on the benefits to the built environment through improving a connection to nature.

- Office design: productivity can be increased by 8 %, rates of well-being up by 13%, increases in creativity, with reduced absenteeism and presenteeism

- Hospitality design: Guests willing to pay 23 % more for rooms with views of Biophilic elements

- Education spaces: increased rates of learning 20-25 % improved test results, concentration levels and attendance, reduced impacts of ADHD

- Healthcare spaces: post-operative recovery times decreased by 8.5 %, reduced pain medication by 22 %

- Retail: the presence of vegetation & landscaping has been found to increase average rental rates on retail spaces with customers indicating they were willing to pay 8-12 % more for goods and services.

- Homes: can become more calming & restorative, with 7-8 % less crime attributed to areas with access to nature and can command an increase of 4-5% in property price."

Bipophilic design in interiros playing a huge part in our feeling of wellbeing and relaxation
"How we design our buildings shapes our lives and all of our futures"
Philippa Charrier
Philippa Charrier is the Director of Fat properties, with an avid passion for creating ethical property developments for student accommodation, Philippa is also co-author of Amazon best seller 'Design for Wellbeing'

What is Biophilic Design?

Biophilia (meaning the love of nature) focuses on human's innate attraction to nature and natural processes. It is about improving our connection with nature and incorporating nature and natural elements into our everyday lives at home and at work. It is a whole lot more than just popping a few plants in a room or painting a wall green! It is a holistic approach to design, incorporating the natural world. True Biophilic Design pays attention to natural light, natural ventilation, natural materials, vegetation, views, environmental shapes and forms, patterns and textures as well as creating spaces and places where people feel safe and there is an air of mystery, calmness and tranquillity. Check out our home staging services.

The Biophilic Design concept is not new:

Biophilia in Context...
"This is what I prayed for," wrote the Roman poet Horace. 'A piece of land - not so very big, with a garden and, near the house, a spring that never fails, and a bit of wood to round it off."


Those words were set down more than 2000 years ago, around 30 B.C. It is easy to understand the emotion prompting them; we still recognize what Horace meant by a rural garden, a place to take refuge, as he did, from the irritations of city life.
wellbeing is enhanced by natural environments

Biophilic Design Concept Board

Here are a few examples of how I have incorporated some elements of Biophilic Design into a few of my recent projects. All of these projects include items that have been redesigned, reused, recycled or repurposed. Check our interior design and home staging services.
Biophilic Design concept board aiming for wellbeing in Design

Sustainability in Design

What does sustainability mean?

Sustainability is the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. We need to think more about how and what we are sourcing when designing our homes and work spaces. One great way we can design with sustainability in mind is to be creative with what we already have in our homes. Check out our home staging services.
Sustainability in design and upcycling dining chairs
Sustainability, is another part of the jigsaw when it comes to working towards a circular process of reducing waste, repairing and regenerating resources. Now is the time to move away from the throwaway 'take, make, waste' or 'buy, use, discard' culture that we have become accustomed to in recent years. To previous generations this is nothing new. I'm sure we all have stories of parents or grandparents who were part of the 'make do and mend' culture, rather than the current 'throwaway and buy new' culture.

It's almost as if we are coming full circle. As Jay Blake said, "Upcycling is not 2nd best it is 1st best." Jay Blake is a furniture restorer, furniture company owner and TV presenter of The Repair Shop and Money for Nothing.

Did you guess that in the image of a dining room above the dining chairs had been upcycled? Possibly not, it is difficult to notice, and that's the whole idea. We created a brand new look using the original item and some paint.
Designer being show painting furniture to upcycle and reuse the chairs
I have been refurbishing and renovating properties since the late 1980s. I always look for creative ways to make the most of what I already have or source pre-loved items that I can upcycle before buying something new. Since founding my company, Property Reviver, in 2013, I do this for my clients too. Finding ways to upcycle, re-design, re-purpose and re-vamp to reduce waste is at the heart of how I approach all of my design projects. This can be anything from simply relocating a chair to another room through to painting or re-designing furniture and soft furnishings. Check out our home staging services.
Dining chairs before upcycling process and painting

Upcycling and Recycling

I get enormous satisfaction by saving items from landfill sites and giving them a new lease of life. On a recent renovation and property staging project in London, instead of throwing out a set of old pine dining chairs and buying new ones, I upcycled the old chairs. Everyone was astonished, that in white, they weren't newly purchased.

Amanda Caley, Interior Designer and Home Stager shown upcycling chairs by painting white for sustainable design
If you do need to buy new, keep longevity in mind. It can save time as well as money to move away from the throwaway culture. Here are my top tips to give sustainability a chance:

- Source items that have been pre-loved, there are some real gems to be found out there.

      "One man's trash is another man's treasure" - English Proverb

- Buy timeless, well-made pieces that will last and can be recycled by future generations.

- Source items that are made from reclaimed or recycled products.

- Source items which are made from sustainable products such as bamboo which grows quickly.

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How to recyle things you no longer love or use

If you have items in your home that you no longer consider to be useful, or beautiful then re-home them by passing them on to someone who can find a use for them. Check out our home staging services.
'10 million household items go to landfill in the UK each year when 3 million items could be recycled to help people in need.'
If you have items in your home that you no longer consider to be useful, or beautiful then re-home them by passing them on to someone who can find a use for them.

Keeping as much of our 'waste' as possible out of the landfill is good for the environment and everyone on the planet. There are many charitable organisations who upcyle and recycle furniture such as Emmaus UK who use all profits to support and employ homeless people. The Reuse Network will ensure that as little as possible of household items go to landfill.

I leave you with one of my favourite quotes from the famous William Morris, one of the most celebrated designers of the 19th Century.
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
William Morris.
Interior design and wellbeing quote by William Morris... HAve nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful
This image is a beautiful treasure that I bought a few years ago from Drift on the Isle of Wight. She is called 'Swept' and her creator is Lucien Mayor - a French Canadian artist. The sculpture is made from recycled metal and porous (volcanic) rock. She looks strong, beautiful and quite symbolic in these strange times.

I hope you have found this article interesting, informative and inspiring. If I can help with your design decisions to create a more calm and relaxing home for you by using the principles of Wellbeing in Design, please get in touch.

Amanda Caley House Wow Verified Business, London and the South East

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