DE­SIGN FOR A NEW DECADE Well­be­ing trends

‘Well­ness’- it’s 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

House Beautiful (UK) - - CONTENTS -

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…



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.


• 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-touse web­site (patch­, 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 (plant­, 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 here) in­spired by the morn­ing sky (du­ 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. (See our Colour Your Home Happy sup­ple­ment for ideas.)

The light lev­els in a space can have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the way we feel



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).


• 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 (hab­er­dash­



Given that we spend 90 per cent of our lives in­doors, air qual­ity is a hot topic, with 91 per cent of us liv­ing in ar­eas where pol­lu­tion ex­ceeds World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion guide­lines. The web­site ad­dresspol­lu­ 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.


• 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 on the hori­zon 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. Although not launched yet, it’s en­cour­ag­ing to see new, easy-toim­ple­ment so­lu­tions pop­ping up, with the scope to be ap­plied to other tex­tiles in the fu­ture.



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.


• 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 (friend­sofwil­ pro­vide sound-ab­sorb­ing acous­tic wall pan­els, room di­viders and hang­ing screens that can be eas­ily in­cor­po­rated into the home.



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.


• 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 per cent re­new­able en­ergy. These sup­pli­ers of­fer­ing sus­tain­able en­ergy al­ter­na­tives – Bulb (, Oc­to­pus (oc­to­pus.en­ergy), Ecotric­ity (ecotric­ and Good En­ergy (good­en­ – are just a few worth in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

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