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5 Ways to Bring Nature into Bathroom Design

When you think of a calming environment, you may automatically jump to images of spa-like rooms, flooded in ambient light, pale colors and a touch of greenery. But why are so many spas designed like that? The answer is wrapped up in the theory of biophilic design. While the average American spends more than 90% of their time indoors, healthcare professionals, scientific researchers and architects alike have realized that there is an innate benefit in fostering a connection to nature for humans, even if it means creating one within the built environment.

Incorporating indoor plants is just one factor of this wide-ranging theory of design, which may also include light, the types and colors of materials used and even the shape of the building as a whole. Designers first applied the theory to hospitals and healing environments but have since recognized the benefits in application for everyday interior environments, from commercial gyms to corporate offices. Studies have found a stronger connection to nature can provide the human body a source of stress relief, boost in creativity and enhanced ability to focus, turning biophilic design into a sought-after trend.

Forging a connection to nature at home, especially in rooms that offer a chance to recharge, is more important than ever. Ready to renovate your bathroom with biophilic design? Consider the following five ways to bring the outdoors in.


1. Amplify natural light.

Whether it’s enlarging windows or adding skylights, more access to natural light is a proven method for improving mood, balancing circadian rhythm and boosting an overall sense of well-being. Natural light also has the power to completely transform rooms from a design perspective—enhancing the way we perceive color and texture. Natural light is also dynamic, changing the tone of the room throughout the day and by season, creating a more connected, fluid experience from inside the home.

No way to include true natural light? Consider adding natural-light mimicking lightbulbs, which offer softer, color spectrum-balanced light that has shown many of the same benefits for boosting mood and relieving depression or season affective disorder in scientific studies.

2. Bring on the botanicals.

Plants are nature’s healer and incorporating plenty of them into your bathroom may have far-reaching positive effects. Researchers in the mental health field are studying the positive affects natural environments have on psychological well-being. The resulting studies indicate greenery, whether wild or cultivated gardens, may offer relief from stress, depression, ADHD and may even increase intellectual performance, from creativity to productivity. If your home has proximity to natural landscapes, you may emphasize the view from your bathroom. If you have access to natural light, consider bringing the greenery indoors by adding houseplants.

3. Build in a home steam bath.

From pouring water over heated rocks to produce steam in sweat lodges to taking advantage of the steam from volcanic hot springs, nearly every ancient civilization has a steam tradition. And it’s no wonder: the soothing and wellness-bolstering capabilities of this natural wonder is well-documented, from soothing irritated airways to skin care.

Incorporating this natural element into your bathroom routine is not only luxurious, but good for the environment, too. While it takes 100 gallons of water to fill a large jet-spa tub and 17 gallons just to take an eight-minute shower, 20-minutes of immersion in an aromatically-infused steam bath requires only about 1.5 gallons of water.

4. Make scents.

Another way to bring nature in is Aromatherapy. Extracted from sources such as flowers, fruits or leaves, essential oils are thought to tap into the human nervous system through smell. Research is limited, but major medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic, are investigating the power of plants and smell for reducing pain, relieving indigestion and promoting better sleep. From electronic diffusers to roll-on oils, there are many ways to incorporate aromatherapy into your routine. Our favorite way? The AromaSteam System, which allows you to seamlessly infuse your steam bath with energizing aromatic oils.

5. Get creative with color.

While sandy beige and sage greens are great biophilic colors, consider tapping into your favorite landscapes, such as deep blue glacial lakes, earthy red Sedona mountains or the blush pink of a summer sunset, for your color story. To create your own color palette, start with a landscape reference photo you love and collect other interior design images, materials and color swatches that channel the same essence of your chosen photo. The resulting mood board, whether you make it physically or digitally, will make choosing décor easier and make the connection to nature both intentional and memorable. 

Bringing the natural world into your bathroom helps create a relaxing, healing space for respite from a busy life. Looking for more ways to renovate your bathroom with wellness? Check out how interior designer Denise McGaha incorporated it into her personal master bathroom here.


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Topics: Steam Accessories, Health & Wellness, Bathroom Remodel, Green Living