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Soothing colour, uplifting fragrances and plastic-free products: the rise of wellness chic in interiors

A soothing interior filled with natural materials and calming colours
A soothing interior filled with natural materials and calming colours Credit: Zara Home

If there’s one lifestyle trend that has dominated this past year, it’s wellness. Having featured in more than 30 million Instagram posts (and counting), “wellbeing” and “self-care” have influenced our choice of food, travel, fitness and beauty… and now, increasingly, our home decor, too.

At last week’s London Design Festival – which showcased the new trends and products that will be heading for our homes over the coming seasons – wellbeing was a recurring preoccupation. Shapes were inviting and comforting, colours were either bright and cheerful or soft and soothing, and materials were chosen according to their health-promoting properties.

It’s a theme that’s already making waves on the high street, too: research by John Lewis earlier this year showed that an increasing number of us are using our living rooms to practise yoga and meditation, and the brand is launching wellbeing homeware, such as weighted blankets (as an aid to relaxation and mindfulness). Biophilic design – the use of natural materials and colours to bring a sense of connection with nature – is trending in everything from paint colours to furniture; and homeware brands are focusing on designs that will aid our overall happiness.

Here, then, are three key ways to give your home a hug. 

Health-giving materials

Sage sofa and coffee table by Benchmark

In a dovetailing of the concurrent trends for wellbeing and sustainability, natural materials are definitively in, and plastic (unless it’s recycled ocean waste) is out. At the 100% Design trade fair last week, British furniture company Benchmark debuted its new collection, Sage, by American architect David Rockwell, designed for both the home and the workspace and created with human health and wellbeing in mind. The tables, seating and sit-stand desks are made from wood and textured-wool upholstery, with non-toxic finishes and materials such as coir and recycled cotton used as padding, in place of plastic foam. Their rounded forms make them ergonomic and supportive, and also comforting, both to use and to look at.

Also at 100% Design, an installation entitled “A Sense of Finland” highlighted the design traditions of the country voted the happiest in the world, and explored how a typical Finnish interior – in the form of a log cabin furnished with simple wooden furniture, with a soundtrack of calming forest noises playing in the background – could promote wellbeing.

Rattan chair, £229.99, Zara Home (zara.com) 

Pared-back forms and natural, sustainable materials have been a feature of the autumn/winter high-street collections, too: stripped wooden tables and chairs (some with black accents to give them a modern twist) are dominating the dining scene, and lounge chairs in rattan and cane have become the new statement pieces.

Mood-boosting colour

The calming, Scandi look isn’t the only route to happiness, though: another way to lift your mood is through colour, and there were plenty of new products being showcased last week that employed bursts of cheerful maximalist pattern.

Giovanni rug, £3,250, John Booth for Floor Story (floorstory.co.uk) 

The illustrator and ceramicist John Booth says he gets a lot of joy from the colours and materials in his work, and It would be hard not to smile when greeted with the vibrant rugs he designed for Floor Story, debuted at the London Design Fair last week, where Sebastian Cox also showed wooden furniture stained in bright, primary hues.

Wallpaper, especially of the patterned variety, remains on trend, and is an easy way to introduce some uplifting pattern to the home, particularly when used in the hallway – a splash of colour when you open the front door is a surefire way to improve your mood. New launches include playful elephants and vintage-style shell motifs from Barneby Gates, and Cole & Son’ s Pearwood collection, including traditionally inspired patterns populated by peacocks, parrots and lions.

On the high street, Habitat is about to launch a new collection in collaboration with the artist and designer Luke Edward Hall (available from Tuesday), featuring furniture, bedlinen, cushions, lamps and prints with playful line drawings and bold, circus-style stripes. Hall’s use of contrasting colours – blue with green, or pink with red – has an undeniably joyful effect. Another way to reproduce it is to borrow from fashion’s colour-blocking trend, by painting two-tone walls in different shades, or piling up different coloured velvet cushions on a jewel-toned sofa.

Circus Stripe cushion by Luke Edward Hall, £60, Habitat (habitat.co.uk)

Something in the air

The way the interior products we choose can affect the very air we breathe within our own homes has come to the fore this year. Air-cleansing house plants remain hugely popular, eco paints are on the rise, and plastic-free is the new watchword in homeware: The French Bedroom Company has just launched what it says is the UK’s first plastic-free mattress, made from flax, cotton and wool (as opposed to the average mattress, which is apparently 60 per cent plastic-based materials).

For those keen to stage a home detox, there are several chemical-free household and cleaning-product ranges to choose from, such as Ashley & Co’s surface cleaner, made from citrus, clove and cinnamon essential oils (from amara.com).

Pot pourri crystals with essential oil, £55, Anatome (anatome.co) 

Fragrance in general is a key element of the wellbeing-at-home movement. Wellness brand Anatome has infused Himalayan-salt crystals with essential oils to create pot pourri crystals, designed not only to smell good but also, it claims, to support emotional health, with different blends to promote sleep, strength, concentration or even confidence. Fragrance in the form of crystals makes it portable – as are Jo Malone’s new scented sachets, which are small enough to keep in your handbag (or gym bag). So although wellness might start at home, you can take it with you, too.