Have you ever tried forest bathing? The term (known as shinrin-yoku) originated in Japan during the 1980s. Forest bathing is all about submerging yourself in a forest location, and using your senses to immerse yourself in the different sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors. In fact, it represents a way to build a bridge between ourselves and the natural world. And its advocates believe that reconnecting with the great outdoors in this way can help to improve both physical and mental health. So, like biophilia, forest bathing strives to increase our connectivity with the natural environment.
The best medicine
Forest bathing has been proven to reduce stress, improve feelings of wellbeing, lower heart rate/blood pressure, and increase creativity. In other words, I think it’s one of the best medicines for modern living. The only problem, of course, is that not everyone has easy access to a forest. And even those who do, might not find it quite so welcoming during the long, dark, cold winter months!
Forest bathing gives you the chance to embrace your inner calm and connect with the natural environment
So, I have been thinking about how to interpret the concept of forest bathing in a bathroom. And I must say I think this is a match made in heaven. After all, recreating the look and feel of a forest indoors is the next best way to experience the benefits. With an increased awareness of how our environment affects our wellbeing, we are already more connected to the benefits of turning our bathroom into our personal wellness retreat. After all, this is where we can take time out to relax and recharge. So, I recently spoke to interior designer Justyna Kelly and home stylist Kim Heslip to get their take on this concept. And The Brighton Bathroom Company have kindly shared this stunning project, showcasing the epitome of forest bathing:
Plants are an essential part of any forest bathing bathroom retreat. Use real or faux foliage – and don’t be afraid to mix and match sizes and styles
How to bring the outdoors in
I believe bringing the forest into your bathroom is not as hard as you may think. In fact, it’s all about finding ways to be at one with nature in your own private bathing space. Justyna Kelly, owner of Interiors by Justyna, agrees.
“Forest bathing is a wonderful concept to embrace in a bathroom where, by definition, we make time to take care of ourselves. People’s homes have become their havens – a place where they need to switch off and relax, as well as work and lead a busy family life,” she notes. “So, our interiors have to deliver on this front and I cannot think of a more perfect concept for self-care than forest bathing. It also ties in with the idea of sustainability, respect and humility towards nature, and living in harmony with it.”
Justyna Kelly, owner of Interiors by Justyna: “I associate the notion of forest bathing with a state of tranquillity and complete inner calm…Contact with nature restores us in every way”
Use colour to evoke nature
Bringing the forest into the bathroom includes the obvious: plants, plants and more plants, with plenty of shelving to accommodate them. But, I would also recommend choosing colours and materials that reflect a forest: think luscious greens, earthy browns, autumnal oranges and wooden furniture.
Justyna also advocates recreating the forest spirit through your colour scheme. “Deep greens paired with browns and a pop of inky blue, mustard yellow or dusty pink will work really well,” she explains. “And choose darker, deeper, more muted shades to tone down your senses and calm your eyes. You can also incorporate natural materials, such as wood or bamboo, either through your storage or accessories. Why not use a beautiful, treated log as your side table? And don’t forget the role of art and/or sculpture. Any botanical or animal motifs will work beautifully in a forest bathing-inspired bathroom.”
When creating your forest bathing bathroom, make the most of all natural light. Window films provide privacy, without obstructing the light source – they help to minimise clutter, too
The power of plants
As mentioned, plants are a must for any forest bathing-themed bathroom. And I think making the right selection is key. “If you are lucky enough to have natural light in your bathroom, then choose a selection of houseplants that enjoy a warm and humid environment,” advises Kim Heslip, stylist at Savvy Home Stylist. “Go for different sizes, colours and shapes to add interest and texture. If you have room, look for plant stands of varying heights for the floor space. A wall-mounted shelf above the bath is another great place to display plants, as well as hanging planters from door hooks, curtain rails or the ceiling.”
Kim continues: “Don’t worry if there isn’t a window in your bathroom – there are plenty of realistic faux plants available to create the look. I’d also include artwork or a mural of forest scenes and accessories in natural materials such as bamboo or coconut shell. Scented candles or a diffuser, and beauty products with a floral/herbal aroma, will add to the ambience.”
Savvy Home Stylist Kim Heslip: “I love the idea of bringing the outdoors in and surrounding yourself by nature while bathing…Creating a scheme where it feels like you are out amongst nature in your own bathroom is something that will appeal to many people”
The importance of light and shade
I believe that lighting is a key element of interiors, which should be part of the planning process from the very beginning. Justyna wholeheartedly agrees. “Ambient lighting, with the addition of dimmable switches, can create the most relaxing atmosphere, like resting in the shade of an old forest,” she explains. “But remember to use the correct IP rating – most bathrooms need IP44 or above…Mood lighting is everything, too! You can use rechargeable lamps or candles.”
I find making the most of natural light is important – but so is privacy. “Use a blind made of water-resistant fabric,” Justyna recommends. “Roller blinds work well. You could choose a fabric with botanical/leafy motifs.” She also recommends plantation shutters. “These can be open at the top of the window only and provide great flexibility in terms of both privacy and natural light. They can be made in a natural wood finish, too.”
Not much or even no natural light? No problem! Use mirrors to brighten your forest bathing-themed bathroom, and create the illusion of space. Our Docklands round mirror in black, (80cm diameter, £230) creates a striking focal point in this forest bathing-inspired bathroom
Kim recommends getting creative with mirrors to maximise your bathroom’s natural light. “The ultimate objective for me would be to have a large window next to the bath, which can be opened, with beautiful views of the great outdoors,” she reveals. “But for most of us this isn’t a reality. We don’t all have a bathroom window – let alone amazing views – and most of us have neighbours to consider too!”
Kim continues: “However, you can make the most of any natural light in the room by using mirrors to bounce the light around and give the feeling of a larger space. A window film can provide privacy, without compromising on natural light too much. There are many fabulous designs available that would fit with a forest/nature theme.”
Your forest bathing bathroom should appeal to all of your senses. Introduce floral or herbal aromas, light candles, and play relaxing, nature-themed sounds
Nurture all your senses
The aroma and sounds in your forest bathroom are just as important as the look. The fresh aromas of leaves and earth can be recreated with diffusers/candles scented with fresh pine and eucalyptus. You could even hang a bunch of fresh herbs in the shower, to create a fabulous steam infusion.
“To create a forest bathing retreat, it’s important to consider all our senses for the maximum relaxation effect,” agrees Justyna. “Light scented candles (choose forest or tree scents), use diffusers or luxurious potpourri. Also, play relaxing music – nature-themed sounds would be perfect. You could invest in organic cosmetics and have plenty of sumptuous fresh towels (warmed up if possible) on hand.”
Going green: Different shades of green and grey to set the scene for this forest bathing-inspired environment
However, do be careful to avoid too much clutter. The right storage is essential to keep everything in its proper place. “Less is more,” agrees Justyna. “The Japanese, who created the concept of forest bathing, believe that minimalistic interiors help us maintain the state of calm. Additionally, it’s been proven that less clutter allows our senses to relax more easily.”
Are you keen to add forest bathing elements to your bathroom project? Keep in touch via our Instagram feed here and DM me.