Home owners say natural materials such as wood make them happier

As we move into the post plastic age, health and wellbeing is no longer just a matter of what we eat and drink and how often we exercise. Today, Brits are turning their backs on disposable, desire-based buying and cheap synthetics, in favour of more thoughtful purchases that offer a combination of personal and planetary health and wellbeing benefits.

Seeking the holy grail of ‘Homely-Wellness’ through home design and build, a new ‘Window on the World’ research and trend report by The Wood Window Alliance reveals three key trends that are currently impacting the way we live our lives:

Homely Wellness
Put simply, ‘naturally happy’ is not just a matter of individual psychology and attitude. 49% of home-owners state that having natural materials in their homes makes them feel discernibly happier than when surrounded by artificial materials, with one in three planning to bring more natural materials, and 27% planning to increase the amount of natural fibres into their homes this year in a bid to improve their quality of life.

Nurture through nature –  Bringing the outside in
Only 10% of Britain’s children play in nature compared to 40% in 1985. Increasingly, because of the way we live (urban environments, lack of outdoor space, technology keeping us chained to screens etc.), it is not only children who are becoming disconnected from nature, adults are also increasingly spending most of their time indoors, with a host of academic research revealing debilitating effects on wellbeing and health both for humans and their living environments. When it comes to going green indoors, 46% are planning to increase the amount of plants and flowers in their homes this year in a bid to improve their connection with nature.

Plastic purging and wood for good
It seems that the desire to stem the tide of plastic in our lives (and in our oceans) has spread beyond the bag, with one in four homeowners actively planning to decrease the amount of plastics in their home this year, while 46% state they are conscious of the impact of synthetic materials on the natural environment and one in three conscious of the impact of synthetic materials in general on their wellbeing. When it comes to the most desirable, timber is cited by 67% of homeowners as the material they would like to have more of in their home.

Leading biophilic designer Oliver Heath’s top tips for happy homes:

Maximise natural light
Natural light is fundamental to our levels of energy and our ability to sleep. It may be about making sure you position furniture next to windows, so that you can sit on the furniture and have a higher level of natural light and greater opportunity to look out onto an external space. Make sure you look out onto a space that has greenery. Greenery and nature have been proven to be very good at helping you to restore your mental and physical cognitive energy very quickly.

Understand the importance of sleep
Understanding the importance of sleep to well-being is fundamental. Make sure that you create spaces that are calming and restorative and allow you to go to sleep well. Put down mobile phones and technology that can stimulate the brain. Making sure you can turn the lights down and don’t watch television for an hour before you go to bed. Nice, calm, warm spaces with soft materials. Really valuing how important sleep is.

Introduce natural materials to your home
The introduction of sensory contrasts and natural materials is fundamental to creating more mindful spaces. They keep you there in the moment and can help to calm and relax you in a very sensory way. These materials could be timber (for windows, doors and floor), stone for your walls as well as sheepskin, wool rugs and possibly cork for the floor.