Superbloom: Happy Healthy Interiors Inspired by Nature

by Kelsey Betancourt

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Happy spring! A “super bloom” has popped up all over California in the past few weeks, a result of a record-breaking amount of rain this past winter season. Bright orange poppies, desert lilies, yellow and white evening primrose, and pink Bigelow monkey flower, are some of the flowers blossoming in considerable numbers to the delight of hikers, tourists, and nature-lovers throughout California. The super bloom has people flocking to parks such as Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore, Near Desert Lily Sanctuary, and Diamond Valley Lake.

Close up of a wild poppy.

Close up of a wild poppy.

Flowers blooming in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Flowers blooming in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Los-Feliz-local Sarah Barnard, interior designer, WELL AP, LEED AP, keeps her own wildflower garden, where she planted a variety of poppies from seeds and is experiencing her super bloom. “The colors and textures that come with each season are delightful and inspiring,” said Barnard. “I grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, (carrots, radishes, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers of all kinds, cantaloupe, lemons limes, avocado, lettuces & herbs) as well as cactus, succulents, and flowering/ornamental plants.”

Barnard recently took time to visit Griffith Park, Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, and Anza Borrego State Park to see the super bloom herself. Sarah, who specializes in interior design that contributes to her client’s health and wellness, and strives to make nature a part of each home she creates, shared photos of her recent trips.

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“This year’s superbloom is a colorful reminder that nature informs life and design,” Barnard said. Incorporating this principle into the design of your home is one way to contribute to your happiness and health. The study of the effect of nature in design on our health is called Biophilia, and we have previously written about this phenomenon.

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One way to bring this happy and healthy nature into your home is to incorporate natural and organic forms, which are visually pleasing and encourage our connection to the outdoors. Selecting art, lighting or furniture for your home that resembles natural forms is one way to make an inviting and exciting space. Art and shapes inspired by nature could mean a light fixture that looks like a plant or a sculpture that looks like an animal.

Fresh flowers and bright pink leather reminiscent of wildflowers create a warm and inviting dining nook.

Fresh flowers and bright pink leather reminiscent of wildflowers create a warm and inviting dining nook.

Cheerful coral pink tile pairs beautifully with flowers.

Cheerful coral pink tile pairs beautifully with flowers.

Sarah Barnard is a strong advocate of having nature incorporated directly into a space as well. Add your favorite flowers, succulents, and ferns. “In my home, I keep a healthy variety of plants: bromeliads, tillandsia, monstera, and ferns are among my favorites. Having this connection to nature makes my home feel lush and light, as well as contributing to cleaner air.”

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Using natural materials, aside from being beautiful and adding diverse texture to space, is also an excellent way to contribute to mental and physical well being. Having materials like wood, cotton, and glass rather than plastic and vinyl will avoid toxic off-gassing.

This dining room features fresh flowers, bright colors, and natural wood tones.

This dining room features fresh flowers, bright colors, and natural wood tones.

This colorful palette was inspired by flowers.

This colorful palette was inspired by flowers.

Fresh flowers add life and warmth to a contemporary space.

Fresh flowers add life and warmth to a contemporary space.

To battle the stresses of everyday life, you can use mindful interior design practices to create open spaces connected with the environment, plant-life, and the seasons. Barnard reminds, "Our surroundings deeply and immediately impact our mental, physical, and emotional health. A visual connection with the outdoors can improve mood and productivity, and what we bring into a home or space (finishes, furniture, artwork) determines both the quality of the air we breathe and how we function in our daily lives." The flower fields make great inspiration for such a space, with their bright colors, gorgeous views, and fresh air.

There is energy, beauty, and vitality in wildflowers. Spring is the perfect time to find inspiration from flower fields and create a connection to the outdoors. You can do this by beginning a garden, using interior design to personalize your home or office, meaningfully incorporating plants, natural light, and elements inspired by nature. Choose natural materials like wood, cotton, and linen, and take inspiration from this season's super bloom by using bold and bright colors. As more of us make our careers our focus, nature and design are imperative to promote calmness, serenity and healthy living.

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And when in doubt, go hiking!

Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Photos by Steven Dewall, Abby Siniscal, Chas Metivier

Historic West Hollywood Bungalow: Caribbean Blue Bathroom

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This historic West Hollywood bungalow is all about color! The newly remodeled bathroom features a custom tile design by Sarah Barnard. The rich browns and vibrant teal blue's inspire thoughts of the Caribbean Sea. The spacious walk-in shower features a limestone seat providing the perfect complement to the saturated chocolate wall tiles.

Subtle details and accessories counterbalance the bathroom's bold colors. Handmade art tile and a beautiful handmade vessel make this masculine space special. A rustic mirror frame made of recycled barn wood helps to keep the new space fun and funky.

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Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Photos by Chas Metivier

Biophilia + Interior Design = Healthy, Happy Homes!

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Our day to day lives are often spent moving from one artificial environment to another. The familiar routine of home to car, car to work, and back leaves many unsatisfied. Over the course of the last three decades scientists have begun to investigate psychological connections between human beings and the natural world. 

The principle of Biophilia was first introduced in the 1984 book by Edward O. Wilson, which hypothesizes that humans have a deep psychological affinity for other living organisms. While scientists believe this empathy may have developed as a way for nature to protect and preserve itself, others have begun to consider how this principle might benefit people. Designers in particular have been quick to recognize the possibilities for transforming the environments we inhabit in ways that could have genuine and positive psychological effects.

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Biophilic design has become a popular approach to domestic and commercial design. It employs strategies ranging from the modest to elaborate to create spaces that acknowledge and satisfy our deep-seated need for nature in our lives.

One approach to Biophilic design is the incorporation of natural elements within an artificial environment. From architectural design that capitalizes on natural light, to the simple incorporation of plants in an office environment, modest decisions can have a dramatic effect on our spaces. One study done at Washington State University by Virginia I. Lohr and Caroline H. Pearson-mims measured the stress levels in test subjects while performing a task in an office environment. When plants were present in the room, subjects displayed an increase in productivity (12% quicker reactions to their computer task) and were less stressed according to their blood pressure. More research has been conducted on the subject of human-plant interaction and how a natural element can provide real benefits to your daily life.

Other strategies take cues from natural forms to design architectural and interior spaces and furniture. From organic materials or floral patterns to entire rooms that reflect natural themes, there are endless possibilities for Biophilic design. The image above from the Cape Cod Guest Retreat project is a perfect example of incorporating vine patterned fabric and specific color palettes to create a harmonious blend between outdoor and indoor spaces. 

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The Ocean Avenue Penthouse design recalls the bright sands of the shore while the splash of green of potted plants gives a sense of healthy, tranquil living. Outstretched wings offer the viewer a feeling of weightlessness and flight, and the addition of wooden furniture with their airy and open forms completes the natural beach scene. Air quality is an often overlooked but vital element of Biophilic design. The Ocean Avenue Penthouse is an example of how suggestions of air can make a space feel open and clean, while the potted plants help to provide actual clean air. Fostering a peaceful environment is the surest way to foster peace in yourself.
 

Biophilic design has become a popular and effective response to the innate desire of humans to live in natural harmony. When it comes to designing or remodeling your home, consider the many benefits of Biophilic design. More than just a style, it has real effects on your quality of life in your home or office.

Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.