Bringing the Outdoors Inside

Bringing the Outdoors Inside
Plants don't just add to your home decor. They actually can improve your health. Get some insider's secrets on how you can go green for you and your decor design.

Green construction. Eco-friendly building. LEED-certified. Environmentally responsible home. If you haven't heard any of these phrases in the last year, go ahead and crawl out from under your rock and get some sunlight.


While these phrases all speak to the health of the environment and the overall well-being of Mother Earth, you rarely hear about how a sustainable design can benefit your own health and well-being. Well, Via Design Owner Karen Sullivan has some news to share.


Via Design won the 2008 Biomimicry Guild Design Competition, and Sullivan headed to Costa Rica with the guild for a "Biomimicry and Design Workshop." Now, what is biomimicry? In short, it's the imitation of life's processes in design. So in the Costa Rican rain forest, Sullivan and other workshop participants observed nature for inspiration for their various fields, ranging from interior design to aircraft engineering.


Beyond the rain forest, Sullivan has studied what the Biomimicry Guild calls "Life's Principles," and she has applied them to her designs to promote thriving in one's environment rather than just existing in it. Sullivan shares with Cincy Chic some ways you can incorporate these methods into your own interior design to benefit your planet and yourself. 0110Fence_INSTORY.gif


Sustain for the Cure


Society has placed an emphasis on pure water with faucet filters, bottled water and purification pitchers. While clean water is important, where is all the hype for clean air?


Sullivan directed us to a NASA study, which showed that synthetic materials used in construction give off low levels of irritants and potential carcinogens. These air pollutants can cause allergy-like symptoms that make up a "sick building syndrome."


So natural materials like bamboo and cork not only promote an environmentally friendly build because they grow quickly to replace used materials. These natural resources also offer a health-friendly environment for you, as they do not give off irritants.


Pure Life


Just because your home doesn't meet "green" standards doesn't mean you're out of luck, though. Certain plants can remove the chemicals given off by synthetic materials from your air so that you don't have to eat, sleep and breathe carcinogens.


"You could see what you might have in your house and then have plants that would help that. And some of [the plants] are really ordinary plants like gerbera daisies," Sullivan says. Other helpful plants include potted chrysanthemums and ficus, depending on what irritants are polluting your air.


A relevant trend in the design world is the living wall. This vertical garden incorporates air-purifying plants that eliminate irritants as they provide an inside link back to nature.


Natural Connection


That link back to nature affects our health as well. Whether you are bringing in live plants or natural light, bringing the outside in can increase your energy level and positively affect your mood.


While windows and glass doors help to bring in natural sunlight, Sullivan also recommends using light tubes or light shells. These devices "bounce light further into a space," so that you get more use of the sun's rays, Sullivan says.


For more information on how you can improve your health by improving your carbon footprint, schedule a consultation with Sullivan at




Photographer: Linda Palacios

Linda Palacios -

Linda Palacios is the editor of Cincy Chic. Send her an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Read More >>

More articles by this author

Hairapist in TrainingHairapist in Training
Hairapist in Training As your hair is cut, sculpted and shaped,...
Picking Herself up, Aiming HighPicking Herself up, Aiming High
Picking Herself up, Aiming High After 20 years in business, this...