[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley

You’ve hopefully seen the space I designed for the Bisley showroom in Clerkenwell back in May, now it’s time to see the brand’s new Fern collection styled in my own home. With four different set ups – for the living room, home office, hallway and bedroom – I want to show how easy it is to design for wellbeing in the home and create a space that really works for you.

Designed specifically for the home, Bisley’s Fern collection has something for everyone. Made in Britain using sustainable steel, the freestanding metal cabinets offer versatile functionality and timeless simplicity, whether used as a bedside table, an office cabinet or a stylish sideboard. As well as a palette of 16 considered colours to choose from, there’s five Fern styles in the range – from the Mini and Cabby to the Middle, Maxi and Locker. The idea is that you can use these interchangeable storage solutions to express your personality and make your house a home.

For me, design for wellbeing means adding the soul to a space. Otherwise it becomes just about aesthetics and then it might as well be a showroom or a set, rather than a real living and breathing home. When you design with your wellbeing in mind, you create a home with purpose and meaning; somewhere that can really connect with you and make you feel good. This might be different for each person – some might look to their home to bring calm and quiet, others might require their interior to be uplifting and energising. What matters is that it’s designed for you.

[Ad – This is a paid partnership with Bisley]

[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley

Here I’m sharing how I design for wellbeing in the home, from the little tricks to the big gestures that will really make a difference. This post really expands on the discussion I had with Elizabeth Choppin, Editor-in-Chief of Design Anthology magazine, at the Bisley showroom during Clerkenwell Design Week. It was wonderful to see a few of you there, in such a lovely intimate setting where we talked about wellbeing, colour and personal style. If you missed the event, this is the perfect opportunity to get the lowdown on everything we discussed.

For me, wellbeing is about being intentional in creating a space that tells your story. I hope it will help inspire you to make a home that better connects with you.

[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley

Find your colour palette

Colour is so personal. I personally need soft, neutral colours to calm my cluttered introvert brain. For me, a lighter, more pared-back colour palette helps me relax and switch off. If my home was filled with bright colours and bold patterns, I think it would just stress me out – it would feel like too much visual noise, all fighting for attention. I want my home to be a soothing sanctuary where I can escape from the colour and noise of the world outside.

But that might not be the case for everyone. I think it’s important to find a colour palette that works for the mood that you want to create in a space. Think about how colour makes you feel. Red, for example, is traditionally related to anger and danger, green is associated with nature and renewal, and yellow with positivity and optimism. Pink has been used in prisons because it was thought to be able to calm aggression. I think it’s no coincidence that warm beiges and earthy colours are popular at the moment as they bring to mind comfort and familiarity. Apparently you also shouldn’t paint a baby’s room yellow as it might make them more alert and less inclined to sleep!

There’s plenty you can learn about colour but we will all interpret hues differently. The colour green makes me feel uplifted, but as someone commented about my bathroom, it would make them feel quite depressed! If in doubt, use your walls as a neutral backdrop and allow your furniture, accessories and art to add the colour. That way you can easily change things up if you decide you don’t like it.

It can also help to remember the 70:20:10 rule – 70% of your scheme should be your base colour (for example your walls), 30% should be your first accent colour, and 10% should be a contrasting pop of colour (for me, that’s green!).

Express yourself and hone in on your personal style

As mentioned, for me, wellbeing is all about making space for you. I think you will only truly feel at home somewhere if it is a true reflection of everything that makes you you. There’s so much inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest but it helps to take a step back and really reflect on what it is about those spaces that really connects with you. You might get hooked into a trend but then find that in reality it doesn’t quite work for you or your home. Or you might be overwhelmed with so many different trends you don’t know where to begin.

If you’re trying to work out your interior style (see this post too!), I think it can be helpful to create a Pinterest board, or even better a physical mood board. Start by grabbing any image that speaks to you then refine it down to about five or so images. Then I like to pick out 3 words that really summarise those images or the feeling you want to create in the space. For example, ‘calm, simple, natural’ or ‘warm, rich, honest’. This helps give you a framework to work with, so that further down the line, if you’re in a shop or get distracted by another interior style, you can go back to your three words and check everything aligns.

In order to gain a bit of consistency across rooms, you also want to think about your ‘red thread’. This is the common theme that ties everything together. My red thread is the colour green – it comes up in my cushions, the pop of a plant, or something as subtle as a candle. It helps create a sense of cohesion.

Look to nature for inspiration[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley

Look to nature for inspiration

For me, the idea of wellbeing is inextricably linked to nature. Wellbeing can be defined as a state of comfort, health and happiness. And more often than not, we feel the best when we are surrounded by nature – after a restorative walk perhaps, or an afternoon of gardening. Even a fresh vase of flowers can help you feel good. Studies have even shown that hospital patients recover quicker with a green view compared to a view of a brick wall or building.

Biophilic design is the idea of creating spaces that purposefully connect people with nature. It’s a bit like going back to basics, proposing that we have an evolutionary predisposition to recognise and relate to the natural environment. Spaces designed with Biophilic principles are supposed to be able to relieve stress, boost the mood and appeal to the senses on a deeper level. If you want to take this approach, it’s not just about adding plants to your space. Taking it not quite so literally, you can also bring other elements of nature inside, for example with natural textures, natural materials and patterns inspired by natural forms.

When I’m choosing textiles for my home, I always choose those with a loose weave or slightly irregular pattern. I also love to add handwoven baskets to soften the contrast with smoother surfaces.

Add plants to purify the air and boost your mood

Of course, it can also help to add plants! Not only do plants help improve indoor air quality by capturing pollutants, they have also been shown to reduce stress levels and improve productivity in work spaces. I find they just add life to a space. Some of the best varieties for air purifying include ferns, the peace lily, and Areca or bamboo palm.

Maximise daylight

Since moving back into our extension space, I’ve noticed the power of natural light and how it can impact your mood. With huge glazed sliding doors and a large rooflight, our extension space always feels light and uplifting, even on a grey day. It really helps get the day off to the right start. And there’s some science behind it. Natural light helps guide our circadian rhythm – the natural 24 hour cycle that helps us feel energised in the morning and ready for bed in the evenings. You want to expose yourself to lots of natural light in the morning to help you stay more alert. You then want to dim the lights and avoid harsh blue light (from screens etc) two hours before bedtime to help you sleep better.

Consider light when placing your furniture. You might want to position your desk near to a window to help you stay focused throughout the day. In our extension we have a little window seat next to a large picture window – it gets the sunshine first thing in the morning and it’s my favourite place to have my morning coffee.

Design for the senses

I think when you design for wellbeing you need to consider all the senses, not just sight. Touch is hugely important to help bring a sense of comfort – think about how materials feel when combined together and consider how you can make a space more inviting with texture. I love our cork flooring because it feels soft and tactile. You can also think about scent and sound. Scent can be very powerful in evoking memories and creating a certain ambience in a space. Softening sounds (for example with our cork flooring or a generous rug) can help make a space feel soothing and less echo-y. It’s about creating a complete sensorial experience that makes you feel good.

[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with BisleyLook to nature for inspiration

A place for everything and everything in its place

Functional, good quality storage is key to a calm, organised home. I like to have a place for everything and everything in its place. It means that you can free surfaces and spaces of clutter and only have the things out that really bring meaning and life to a space.

I’m a minimalist at heart, but I have a lot of stuff, not to mention a messy husband and a whirlwind of a toddler. Storage helps keep me sane and allows my home to give the illusion of calm and tidiness (even if behind the doors, the cupboards are packed full of stuff!).

I don’t think you can ever have too much storage. Just make sure it works for you – I tried having a Montessori style open shelf in our extension space for my daughter’s toys but in the end decided it felt too cluttered (for me). I much prefer the Fern Cabby unit in this spot so that I can close the doors at the end of the day and not see everything out on display when I want to relax.

The freedom to change

When you design for wellbeing I think it’s important to create spaces that have built-in flexibility, so you can adapt your home to suit your mood. Most people would have placed their kitchen in a new extension, but I wanted to keep the kitchen at the heart of the home and create an open space that could change as we needed it to. I often use the space as a photography studio, then we might move the sofa and use a projector on the long blank wall to watch movies, or we might gather everyone round the dining table when we want to entertain.

If you don’t have the space for the same level of flexibility, it can help to choose furniture and designs that have multiple uses. For example, when designing my daughter’s room, I didn’t want to choose too many child-specific pieces that wouldn’t last or stand the test of time. Similarly, I might occasionally choose to move things around to give spaces a fresh look without having to buy anything new. See it as shopping from your own home!

A conversation between old and new

You want a space to have multiple layers and nuances, rather than being simply one dimensional. It helps to combine the old with the new so that you get a mix of characters, patinas and materials. For example, I love the pairing of the very sleek Chalk white Fern Cabby unit with the warm wood of our mid-century sofa. If everything was from the same era or used the same material, it wouldn’t have so much interest and intrigue. Mixing old and new helps create a story in a space.

[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley

I hope you’ve found those tips for design for wellbeing in the home helpful. It can take time to create a space that really connects with you. My number one tip would be to slow down and take your time. Our parents had decades to make their house a home, today we look at Instagram and think homes are made in a day. It can help to live in a space before committing, so you can work out how the light falls throughout the day and where you like to spend your time. Most of all, switch off your autopilot and take the time to be a bit more mindful in your choices. I promise it will pay off in the long term.

[Ad] How to design for wellbeing in the home, with Bisley

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