Being closer to nature can provide numerous health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and improving mental health. So how about introducing some of these relatively small changes into your home?
1 | House Plants
Placing a few plants around your home is one of the most simple ways to make you feel more linked to the outside world.
Beginners can choose easy-care varieties such as Peace Lilies, Yuccas, Spider Plants and Christmas Cacti, or the more green fingered could try creating their own terrarium display. Television presenter and Kew Gardens trained Botanist James Wong, has a great Instagram page (@botanygeek) which showcases many of his amazing experimental creations.
2 | Natural Materials
Replacing any synthetic materials with natural ones creates a much more tactile environment and can massively reduce the amount of clutter that you have lying around by forcing you to have a big clear out, which can do wonders for lowering your stress levels. Try just getting rid of single-use plastic as a start and then gradually purge the rest of the house.
Plastic bottles in the bathroom can be swapped for solid shampoo and conditioner, and it is even possible to purchase packaging free make up and deodorant. Cleaning products can be made easily and cheaply at home, and stashes of plastic bags can be recycled and replaced with cotton ones.
Donate the bulk of your wardrobe to charity (or try selling more expensive pieces on Ebay or Facebook Marketplace etc) and create a much simpler capsule wardrobe.
3 | Bifold Doors
Bifold doors can enable the creation of a totally transformable space which can be brilliant during the warmer seasons. A cleverly planned garden area directly adjacent to where these doors open out to can make you ‘borrow’ an extra room from the space you have outside.
Incorporating a bifold door into your existing property normally doesn’t require planning permission, falling within Permitted Development rights, though it is advisable to check with your local authority first for certainty. In order to comply with Building Regulations, you may also have to submit a Building Notice – speak to a Building Control Body (via your Local Authority or a private company) about this process, as creating a larger opening in load bearing walls will require additional structural support.
There is now a wide array of styles available on the market, and varying costs depending on what size, materials and supplier you opt for.
4 | Level Thresholds
Intelligent detailing can reduce the need for a step between the internal and external, which can enable further engagement with the outside environment. Level thresholds don’t just improve accessibility, they result in a more minimal appearance and allow a continued flow between spaces.
Minimal gradients ensure that any rainwater not captured by a channel by the threshold drains away without pooling or entering the property.
5 | Balconies
Balconies can be brilliant in enabling a little bit of outdoor space in limited areas, or they can be great for maximising and enjoying fantastic views for those lucky enough to have them. In most cases they will require planning permission (as the fact that you may be able to overlook neighbouring properties can be an issue), though Juliet balconies are often exempt.
6 | Outdoor Furniture
There is now a vast array of different garden furniture available to suit your needs, including even outdoor rugs and beautiful solar lighting options to help you enjoy your outdoor space for as long as possible.
7 | Making the most of Views
Do you have any great views from your home, and does your home make the most of these? Many older houses for example, were built to be practical with relatively small south facing windows and thick walls to keep the cold out. But modern construction technologies mean that buildings can now make the most of views, and celebrate them.
Subject to planning approval, new openings can be created in external walls that allow to fully enjoy the surrounding landscape.
If you don’t have visually appealing surroundings can you incorporate some clever landscaping to disguise them? Screens, mirrors, tall shrubbery or trees can hide unwanted elements in your outside space and make your garden seem larger, or draw focus away from certain areas to other particular points.
8 | Large Glazing Panels
It is now possible to have completely unobstructed glazing panels with the use of structural glass. The cost of these is variable and is dependent on such factors as size, shape, thickness, wind loading and the weight of any supporting loads. The loss of any transoms and mullions from the window components really do go a long way to reducing the divide between the internal and external.
9 | Garden Rooms
Single storey garden rooms tend to have a mainly solid roof and glazed (or predominantly glazed) walls that function better in our cool temperate climate than the traditional conservatory, because the insulated room keeps the room warmer during cooler periods, and keeps the heat out on particularly hot days. They offer an additional communal space with loads of natural light, and which can offer a good intermediate zone between the inside of your home and the outside.
10 | Vaulted Ceilings and Rooflights
Removing the ceilings from the first storey of your home can make it feel both lighter and brighter and can make small spaces seem much larger. In addition to this, the incorporation of rooflights can really transform spaces by greatly improving natural light.
The complexity of doing this to an existing property can vary massively and will depend on the construction of the original roof.