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Biophilic Kitchen Designs

Try These Beautiful and Easy Ways to Give Your Kitchen a Biophilic Design Boost

If you’ve picked up a design magazine in the past couple of years, you’ve probably seen the phrase biophilic design. Based on the Greek words for “life-loving,” biophilia refers to the theory that humans desire and need a connection to nature to thrive and be happy.

wood and dark kitchen
Photo credit: Adam Kane Macchia

There is a range of benefits to adding biophilic elements to your home or office. Studies have shown that working in a room with an outdoor view or green plant wall, spending time in nature, touching wood, or being exposed to bright sunlight in the morning can help people recover from stress more quickly, lower cortisol levels, and improve insomnia, calm brain activity, and lessen chronic back pain.

One of the easiest ways to bring nature inside is with plants. That’s why living walls, balconies draped with plants, and atriums filled with plants are so popular at tech companies like Google, LinkedIn, and Apple. But there’s much more to biophilia. Bill Browning and his team at Terrapin Bright Green, an environmental design consultancy, have identified 14 different ways to create a space that’s in harmony with nature. They fall into three different categories: nature in the space, natural analogues, and nature of the space.

Nature in the Space

Just like it sounds, this refers to bringing organic elements directly into your home. Make it tactile with elements like wood, natural stone, and cotton, or work to maximize views and light. Here are some traditional and modern kitchens showing different ways to emphasize nature in the space.

modern kitchen with rug runner

Water Views

This kitchen always had the potential for stunning views of the Hudson River, but the previous design covered the view up with cabinetry and the kitchen sink. Designer Sarah Robertson of Studio Dearborn transformed the Modern on the Hudson kitchen by moving the sink to an island and placing the range against the wall. Water views or a flowing water element is a profound way to add a calming natural element to any space.

black and white modern kitchen with dog

Fresh Air

With the exception of the range hood or air conditioning, air flow often gets overlooked. But making sure your kitchen has a good source of fresh air is an important consideration in biophilic design. This bank of windows that lines the wall of this kitchen makes sure it stays breezy and it’s easy to cool it down after cooking. Plus having ample windows means the room gets varying natural light throughout the day.

Natural Analogues

An Analogue is a fancy way of saying two things that are similar. In biophilic design, natural analogues copy the patterns, materials, and forms commonly found in nature.

eclectic tudor kitchen with wood and white cabinets

Organic Materials

Just choosing organic materials for your kitchen like marble, quartzite, slate, clay tile and natural wood finishes grounds the space with a material connection to nature. The surfaces need to look like they do in nature to deliver biophilic benefits like a feeling of warmth. In this project, the Tudor home had beautiful original woodwork, and designer Robertson wanted to carry that throughout the kitchen. She chose a curved door in warm walnut for the pantry, and the island, and added a wood band on the range hood to tie it in. 

breakfast bar with backsplash
Photo credit: Adam Kane Macchia

Biomorphic Patterns

The classic textile pattern herringbone is named for the precise repeating v pattern of this fish’s skeleton. But you also see it in palm fronds, ferns, and even feathers if you look really closely. Like leaves, waves, and stars seen in Islamic design, herringbone is a biomorphic pattern. Especially now, herringbone is a popular choice for wood flooring, and it adds a natural rhythm to this tile backsplash at Home on a Nashville Hill.

Nature of the Space

This category of biophilic design concerns how a home is situated in a particular landscape. Some are baked into a particular space, others can be added and created with simple design features.

black and white transitional kitchen


Prospect is the sensation of being in an elevated place and looking down on the landscape in the distance. If you’re lucky, the scene that unfolds below is one of beauty. Prospect views also give your eyes the chance to relax by focusing on things in the distance. Designers achieve this effect in the kitchen by placing a kitchen on a second story or so it looks out over the backyard. And having ample windows over the range and kitchen sink allows you to get the most pleasure from that view.

eat in banquette with wallpaper


You know how cozy it is to sit in a chair with a high back, or with your back leaning against a tree looking down on a beautiful landscape. A refuge is a sense of having your back and head protected, and it creates a sense of security like little else. In this project, Robertson of Studio Dearborn filled an elevated window with a curving banquette. It’s a calm retreat from the action in the main part of the kitchen, and the wallpaper mimics a weeping willow tree, bumping up the biophilic aspects of the room.