The expansion of urban environments, lack of outdoor space and technological advances have led to us spending more and more time indoors. As a result, we are becoming increasingly disconnected from nature.
Wooden surfaces help to ‘bring nature indoors’, making a room feel warmer and cosier and they also have a calming effect. In these properties, wood beats all other normal surface materials. The naturalness and natural origin of wood is also why wood is considered a warm and cosy material in construction.
When we consider that individuals spend most of their lives in closed, interior spaces, the creation of an inside environment that promotes well-being is important for our physical and mental health.
The calming effect that wood evokes is comparable to the feeling of walking in the forest; the weight is lifted from our shoulders and we feel revived, renewed and refreshed, nature has a positive effect on us that is second to none. Consequently, the incorporation of wood into indoor spaces, eg. furniture, furnishings and as a building material, does more than look good, it has a profoundly positive effect on us.
According to observations made in research, touching a wooden surface gives people a feeling of safety and being close to nature. “It is especially interesting that the feel of wood is softer than other materials, not only experientially but also physiologically.
Based on studies carried out in Norway, Japan, Canada and Austria, wood seems to have positive effects on the emotional state of people. Environments with wooden structures cause a drop in blood pressure and pulse and have a calming effect.
The use of wood in the interior environment not only lowers inhabitants’ blood pressure but also reduces negative pattern thinking, anxiety and rumination associated with depression. This effect is significant when compared to human-made materials such as concrete and plastic which have been shown to exert the opposite effect to wood- causing an individual’s blood pressure to rise, resulting in anxiety and stress.
When it comes to home design, you should actively seek to redress this balance and restore your connection with nature by bringing the outdoors in. An easy way to do this is to increase the number of plants and flowers and bring natural materials like wood into your home.
When we improve our sense of nature, directly or indirectly, we will benefit from the psychological and physical wellbeing effects that a more calming, restful, restorative and energising space creates.