Our urban lifestyle is a vibrant one which more and more of us are choosing to live. And yet it tends to deliver forests of steel, glass and concrete, when what our bodies and minds crave is true forests and nature. We are losing our connection with the natural world and reams of studies conclude that this is detrimental to our emotional and physical wellbeing.
We want to live close to amenities, entertainment options, and our workplaces, all of which apartments deliver easily. Yet connecting with nature activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with contentment. Our urban environment, with its stress, noise and frustrations, and our work environment rife with demands and pressures, stimulates the sympathetic nervous system associated with drive and threat.
But we can help redress this balance by incorporating natural materials and forms in our homes.
Planet Ark, the not-for-profit organisation with a vision of a world where people live in harmony with nature, conducted an extensive study into the health benefits of living with wood.
They concluded that timber in the home has similar benefits on body and brain as spending time outdoors. The warm and comforting character of wood, the report says, helps lower blood pressure and heart rates, reduces stress and anxiety, and increases positive social interactions. Natural timber surfaces also improve indoor air quality by moderating humidity.
Apartment architects are responding to this need for a connection with nature by applying the principles of biophilic architecture which maximise light, sunshine and air and introduce products and patterns found in the natural world. This has resulted in increased use of wood in foyers and interiors.
We respond positively to it, perceiving an interior with wooden features as being warm and welcoming – having character and feeling like home.
Wood also works well as an interior decor element. Wooden floors, for example, are not only the most stylish option around, but they complement everything. Your style can be contemporary, traditional, industrial or eclectic and it will all work beautifully with a wooden floor.
Wooden furniture is a given. It is warm to the touch, responds beautifully to an occasional polish and gives a sense of permanence. Even used for smaller items such as shelving, light fittings, or stools at the island bench, wood can work its magic.
There are some stunning wooden accessories around and the more texture they have the better. Slices of logs with the rough bark still wrapped around the edges are very much on trend. Large pieces make striking coffee or bedside tables and thinner slices are excellent for trays, placemats or just as accents.
Garage sales and second-hand shops are a goldmine for wooden furniture. Aged wood has a particular beauty and adds a distinctive, unique touch to your apartment. A rustic stool, or a wood-framed mirror in the bathroom takes the hard edge off tiled surfaces.
Humans are a part of nature and therefore reliant on it for everyday wellbeing. Bring it into your home in any of the above ways and you’ll appreciate why it’s not just something to visit on the weekend.