Top 5 wellbeing design trends for 2020

Oliver Heath
Photo credit: Dulux

From House Beautiful

'Wellness' is the word on everyone's lips. Our living well expert Oliver Heath highlights five of the top wellbeing design trends for 2020 and how to incorporate them in to your own home.

There’s a growing recognition among architects and designers of the powerful impact the built environment has on our health and wellbeing. Workplaces, schools and hospitality spaces are now being designed to be as 'happy and healthy' as possible, with a focus on aspects such as lighting, air quality, and a connection to nature. The good news is that many of these ideas are now trickling down to our homes. These are the five big trends we’ll all be talking about this year...

WHY IT MATTERS

The benefits of incorporating natural elements into the built environment is becoming increasingly well understood. Research shows that being in a space that evokes nature can help reduce stress, blood pressure and heart rate, while increasing productivity, creativity and wellbeing.

WHAT TO TRY

• One of the easiest ways to enjoy a connection with nature is to have plants in the home. For those of us who feel we can’t be trusted to look after them, there’s plenty of plant-care education out there – from online resources to garden centres. Online plant retailer Patch has an easy-to-use website where you can order plants based on the light levels in your home. The elaborate living walls we see in work and hospitality spaces are now being designed on a smaller, modular scale, such as the ones available from Plantbox, or can even be made at home using shelving and pot plants.

• Colour is another simple way you can draw from nature to create a more positive home environment. Dulux Colour of the Year for 2020, for example, is Tranquil Dawn, a soft grey green (pictured above) inspired by the morning sky. Spaces can become fun and vibrant by adding highlights of yellows and reds, whereas darker blues and greens can influence the mind and allow for recuperation in calm corners.

WHY IT MATTERS

The colour and light levels in a space can have a significant impact on the way we feel, from boosting our mood to disrupting our sleep – resulting in fatigue. A lack of light is linked to mental health issues such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Photo credit: Mel Yates

WHAT TO TRY

• Biodynamic and circadian lighting (artificial lighting that achieves the biological effects of natural light, changing colour according to the position of the sun to help keep our 24-hour sleep-wake cycle in check) are becoming standard in the workplace and can play a beneficial role in our homes.

• Companies such as Coelux, which makes artificial skylights that mimic natural light, are creating products for spaces with limited access to windows and daylight.

• Floor and side lamps can also offer circadian lighting through colour-changing bulbs or products such as Haberdashery’s Dawn to Dusk lamps that 'rise and set' like the sun.

WHY IT MATTERS

Given that we spend 90% of our lives indoors, air quality is a hot topic, with 91% of us living in areas where pollution exceeds World Health Organisation guidelines. The website pollution.org can tell you the levels of pollution around your home and, if it’s above legal limits, it urges you to demand action. Furthermore, indoor air quality can be five times worse than outside and this can lead to allergies, asthma and breathing difficulties.

Photo credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz - Getty Images

WHAT TO TRY

• I’d like to reiterate the benefits plants can have on air quality. More and more research is coming to light suggesting that trees and certain plants, such as English ivy, Chinese evergreens, peace lilies and snake plants, can remove toxins from the air.

• In terms of technology, I’ve been testing an air purifier from Blueair. The Classic 480i is linked to a smart app that shows me how clean or polluted the air inside my home is. This means when pollution levels are high, such as in summer when the windows are open, I can ramp up the system remotely to clean the air for when I get home.

• Another innovation is Ikea’s GUNRID air purifying curtain. These are being made with certain minerals that break down common pollutants that would otherwise end up indoors. It’s encouraging to see new, easy-to-implement solutions popping up, with the scope to be applied to other textiles in the future.

WHY IT MATTERS

A noisy environment can be stressful and distracting – think about the roar of heavy traffic or an ear-splitting pneumatic drill! – so the acoustics of a space play an important role in our general wellbeing.

Photo credit: Ikea

WHAT TO TRY

• In an ideal world, our homes should be free of unwanted noise from outside. Double-glazing is one solution, but it’s not always suitable. When it comes to sound-masking, there’s a lot of scope for creativity and making it both functional and stylish – from curtains and soft furnishings to planted partitions between spaces. Also think about avoiding hard materials and surfaces that bounce noise around. Companies such as Friends of Wilson provide sound-absorbing acoustic wall panels, room dividers and hanging screens that can be easily incorporated into the home.

WHY IT MATTERS

From helping the environment to improving our health and reducing costs by recycling and conserving energy, 'going green' is becoming ever more important – and cutting the clutter can really help.

Photo credit: Dan Duchars

WHAT TO TRY

• A potentially overlooked aspect of living a more sustainable life is the importance of being mindful about our possessions – where they come from and how we store them. In turn, keeping clutter to a minimum benefits our psychological wellbeing. There isn’t much we can’t rent nowadays, from clothes and toys to tools, bikes and even plants. Ikea is trialling an office furniture renting scheme in Switzerland, with the intention, if it’s successful, of moving on to packages such as entire kitchens. This idea extends to general household belongings: we can now receive and return baby clothes as children grow, reducing waste and saving on drawer space. We can rent tools from tool libraries as and when we need them rather than buying and storing them all year round to be used a handful of times. And, as for those of us who don’t have a bike shed, cramming your bike into the hallway is no longer necessary, with pay-as-you-go bike rentals available in many cities in the UK.

• If it's ease of options you’re after then simply switch your energy provider to one that supplies 100% renewable energy. These suppliers offering sustainable energy alternatives – Bulb, Octopus, Ecotricity and GoodEnergy – are just a few worth investigating.

FINAL THOUGHTS...

With the current drive to think about how the way we live impacts on the environment, it’s exciting to see this also encompasses a more human-centred approach to how our buildings affect us. We need our spaces to be not just 'less bad', but to be restorative; to help us to live better – to work, rest, play and connect.

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From: House Beautiful magazine. Subscribe here.

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