Cabins can be located anywhere—on a peaceful lake, off a dirt road in the woods, or hidden in the middle of nowhere. Regardless, the typical purpose of a cabin is to escape daily routine and connect with friends, family, and the environment. Biophilic design is all about appreciating nature and stimulating those connections and, according to Sheree Vincent of Fusion Designed, “cabins eke biophilia” simply due to their natural environments.
Vincent, founder of the interior design company, describes biophilic design as a love of life and the living world. She sees it is an expression of our response to nature and brings the outside into our homes to create a cohesive space. Biophilic design is one way to improve mental health and encourage healing, according to Vincent. Being surrounded by organic life makes us feel happier and lighter.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when we were “stuck in our homes for the length of time that we were, we realized how little our homes support us,” says Vincent, who is based in Forest Lake, Minnesota.
Transforming a living or getaway space into one that is full of biophilia is a great way to create that support one can need. “Nature never does anything wrong,” says Vincent. “If we pay attention to nature and what she does, there is no wrong way.”
To determine the direction of your own design, she suggests listening to the nature around your cabin. Notice what stands out and what you connect to.
One major tip Vincent offers is this: Don’t force anything that you don’t feel connected to. If growing plants isn’t your thing, then don’t fill your house with plants because “dead energy is not happy energy.” Instead, focus on another design aspect that feels more like you.
Here are five more design features that will help create a cabin that emulates the surrounding nature. You can take one or two of these that resonate with you and incorporate them into your space.
Large windows eradicate the feeling of isolation by letting you see all sorts of life. Not only do large windows allow you to have a direct view of the outside world, but they also let in plenty of natural sunlight. When you are indoors and taking some time for yourself before heading back out into nature, it is still nice to absorb some necessary Vitamin D. If you are designing your cabin from the ground up, try to position the cabin in a way that captures the most sunlight possible. From the light of the early morning sunrise and the blood-orange sunset to the view of wild ferns and massive trees, having large windows will bring nature of all forms into your cabin.
Bring on the Texture
Biophilic design is more than just seeing the nature around you; it’s about incorporating it into furnishings. Using fabrics from natural fibers is a great way to include these natural textures, which could include linen, cotton, or even hemp. The latter is a healthy natural fiber that gives an organic feeling to upholstered furniture, rugs, or anything that is textural. You want to be able to feel the natural world when you walk across a room or sit down with friends.
I Spy With My Little Eye
The next time you walk out the front door of your cabin, notice what colors you see first. Is it the soft blue of the expansive sky? Or is it the bright yellow of the wildflowers growing on the edge of a forest? Whatever color pops out to you, replicate it within your cabin. “My favorite way is to pay attention to the environment the space is sitting in,” Vincent says. According to her, color can create uniformity between the outside and inside, and seeing those specific colors in the home is a great way to lend the interior a sense of nature.
“In nature, there is no such thing as a straight line,” says Vincent. Pick shapes that are organic to the natural world. When selecting furniture for your cabin, consider some unusual shapes that remind you of the earth. This could be a rug that has an environmental pattern or a side table that’s shaped like the rings of a tree trunk. Take the opportunity to have the outside world reflected by your furniture and decorations.
Don’t Forget About the Exterior
When you visit your cabin to escape into nature, you want both the interior and exterior to mirror the surrounding environment. Vincent recommends walkways with soft, winding curves amid scattered accessories that make you pause and reflect, like a Japanese garden.
Small and intentional items can be used for exterior biophilic design, like bird feeders and flower boxes. You could also make use of landscaping that blends with the natural environment. (But make sure you don’t introduce a new species into the environment as it can become invasive and potentially harm native species.)