As an expert in the field of sustainable architectural and interior design, Oliver Heath has welcomed us into his rustic yet calming home. With a passion for biophilic design, we were given a fascinating insight as to how nature and natural light can play an integral part when designing our own homes.
The images speak for themselves – Oliver uses the environment to inform his stunning, light-filled space. In Oliver’s own words “biophilic design is much more than just bringing the outside in – it’s about recognising our development connection with nature and the importance that natural materials, textures, colours and patterns have in the home. We’re creating places that are more relaxing and recuperative or even energising.”
Often recognized for his work with ITV, Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel, Oliver has appeared on TV for the BBC’s D.I.Y. SOS – in which he was nominated for a BAFTA. Having studied architecture at degree and post graduate levels, Oliver often acts as media spokesmen for the UK’s department for energy and climate change (DECC), the energy saving trust and the waste resources action programme (WRAP).
We’d thoroughly recommend Oliver’s latest book ‘Urban Eco Chic’, along with other written pieces he has published in The Guardian, The Sunday Times and most recently he has partnered with Homebase on their Life Improvement Campaign, offering useful advice on how to create health and wellbeing in the home.
What does home mean to you?
Homes are the most important places in our life. We spend 90% of our lives indoors and two thirds of that is in our home. So it’s a really special place and too important to think that it’s sole purpose is to impress other people.
To me, it’s more about how our homes make us feel. Considering our health and wellbeing has become a really important factor in my home, and that is something that my design work really reflects.
How would you describe your style when it comes to design?
My trademark style I would say is biophilic. Biophilic design concerns human attraction to nature, and natural processes. It explains why we are drawn to the countryside and why we feel that large open bodies of water, such as lakes, are calming. Why we are drawn to the flickering warmth of an open fire. Why we enjoy watching seasons roll by.
It was a term that was developed in the 1980s when a physiologist called Edward Wilson recognized societies departure away from rural dwelling into cities and the many problems that would bring.
So biophilic design, as a result, is a design that looks to strengthen the human connection with nature and natural processes. It’s much more than just bringing the outside in. It’s about recognising our development connection with nature – like plants, water and natural light and the seasons. It’s also about recognising the importance that natural materials, textures, colours and patterns have in the home. We’re creating places that are more relaxing and recuperative or even energising.
What would be your top interior design tip/guidance for our readers?
My style suggests that taking inspiration from nature is a good way to create a more calming, restorative and energising space to live in. So I would say after taking that into consideration, how natural light falls into your home – that’s really important.
Natural light can reset circadian rhythms and it often means we have views outside, so if you can use those views out to be views onto plants, nature and greenery then that’s fantastic. Simply looking at plants and nature will be calming and restorative for you. If you don’t have views onto plants then try to incorporate plants and nature into your home. Real plants are good for improving air quality, but they can also make you more calm and relaxed.
Where is your happy place in the home?
I try and create different moods and atmospheres in different rooms depending on what I want that room to do. So the key social space in our house is my living room, which feeds off the kitchen and there is also the lounge that feeds off of that. Our living room really is the key social space.
There was a study that came out from Harvard University recently called the Grant Study – it was carried out for over 75 years, and one of the key findings from that study suggests that the key to human happiness is the formation of strong bonds with family and friends. So being sociable and creating space which allows sociability to occur is integral to our home. Making sure we have a nice dining table, which has become the center of our home, really is fundamental to happiness in my home. From that come the cooking space, the lounge space where the kids play and watch TV and there is a little seating area with a view out to the garden. We have a wood burning stove and there’s lots of natural light and natural material so, for me, my living space is the key to my happiness at home because it leads off in all other directions.
A perfect Sunday is….
The thing I love most is to go out and go to the beach as I live in Brighton. Having a picnic or a BBQ with friends and going surfing or paddle boarding. Getting my girls ,who are seven and nine, to paddle board and getting them in the sea in the summer. So, for me, that’s my happy place.