Biophilic Bathroom Design with Biophilic Expert Jackie Tyrrell

Categories: Bathrooms, Guest Blog

Biophilic Design with Biophilic Expert Jackie Tyrrell


Step into the world of biophilic bathroom design with Jackie Tyrrell, a seasoned Biophilic Design Expert with over three decades of experience in interior design. As one of the Top Bathroom Trends for 2024, SONAS Bathrooms had the pleasure of sitting down with Jackie to delve deep into the wonders of biophilic bathroom design.

Jackie is here to share her expert insights and practical tips for homeowners looking to infuse their bathrooms with the restorative power of nature.

What does Biophilic Design mean in the context of Bathroom Design?

Biophilic design is the term used to describe the elements and principles adopted to reconnect people with nature to support improved health and wellbeing.

In the context of Biophilic Bathroom Design, this includes space planning, function, acoustics, thermal and airflow variability, and material connection to nature through texture, pattern, and colour.

Given its compact size and essential function, excellent design is crucial for maximising functionality in the bathroom.

Bathroom design has evolved considerably in the last 15 years to become a more luxurious space that offers not only functionality but also a place for relaxation and self-care.


Besides adding plants, what are some easy ways for homeowners to introduce biophilic elements into their bathroom design?

Adding plants is a quick way to enhance your biophilic bathroom experience. Homeowners can deepen this design by selecting colors and textures reminiscent of nature.

Nature offers diverse and nuanced colors. The sky, for instance, isn't just one shade of blue; it shifts from pale blues of winter mornings to burnt orange of summer evenings.

Biophilic designers draw inspiration from this diverse palette, reflecting nature's balanced and proportional presentation of colors.

To create a visually cosy bathroom, aim for balanced and layered colours. Use neutrals in tiles with pops of colour in bathroom furniture, or consider a feature wall with a coloured pattern.

Be mindful not to overwhelm the space with excessive colors, textures, or patterns, as this can detract from the biophilic atmosphere.

To incorporate texture and pattern, consider sanitaryware with subtle textures or patterns, particularly if you're hesitant about wall decorations.

An effective technique employed by Biophilic Designers is the principle of 'Mystery' in Biophilic Design. For example, using shower doors with texture or fluting can evoke a sense of secrecy and anticipation, satisfying our innate desire to understand and explore.

Natural light is vital in any living space, especially the bathroom, where we start our day.

If natural light isn’t feasible, smart bulbs mimicking daylight are an effective alternative to support the circadian rhythm. Natural daylight's various colors aid serotonin and melatonin production, enhancing sleep and mood stability.

Mirrors with adjustable lighting from cool to warm tones can further assist.

Proper lighting, following Biophilic Design principles, has been proven to boost morale, well-being, comfort, and productivity.


How can one maintain a healthy plant environment in a potentially humid bathroom setting?

As a designer, I would always make sure a bathroom is well-ventilated. At times, especially when the shower is in use, a bathroom can fill up with steam. Certain plant species enjoy this level of humidity and are a great choice to include in your Biophilic Bathroom Design.

In my bathroom I have a very happy fern. It thrives in bright, but indirect, light.

With good levels of humidity you could also place a spider plant which is one of the easiest plants to grow and can also handle high levels of humidity, or the very sturdy snake plant which can handle low levels of natural light if you have a small bathroom window.

Studies have shown the snake plant can help to remove harmful toxins from the air and it releases oxygen during the night instead of carbon dioxide, unlike many other plants. This encourages a healthy bathroom by improving the air quality and introducing a direct visual connection to nature helping you achieve the biophilic bathroom of your dreams.


What are the main benefits of incorporating biophilic design elements in bathrooms?


Introducing biophilic design into a bathroom offers primary benefits such as rest, relaxation, and visual stimulation.

These aspects aid in the reduction of cortisol, the stress hormone.

Moreover, integrating visual and non-visual connections to nature through light, color, pattern, scent, and sound can effectively reestablish users' connection with nature.

This promotes enhanced health and well-being.

The upside of Biophilic Bathroom Design is its ease of implementation. Using the 14 patterns as a template and applying practical patterns to both your lifestyle and space sets you on the right path for creating a beautifully designed biophilic bathroom.


What are the most important things to be aware of for someone that is interested in creating a biophilic bathroom design?


Biophilic design can be organised into three core categories with 14 patterns, or principles, within these. These 14 principles should be considered when designing a biophilic space.

Biophilic design has its roots in neuroscience, endocrinology, microbiology, and psychology, backed by extensive scientific research supporting its 14 principles.

These principles encompass light, air, sound, color, texture, pattern, natural materials, biomorphic forms, mystery, risk, and peril.

As a biophilic specialist, I utilise these 14 principles as a checklist when tackling a project, striving to incorporate each principle where feasible, ensuring a holistic approach to Biophilic Design.

If you’re interested in learning more about these 14 principles and how to incorporate them into your own space, then check out my detailed breakdown of Biophilic Design in Anthology Magazine.

How can you experience the effect of biophilic design in a bathroom?

A well-designed Biophilic space should engage all the senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. While visual aesthetics are typically the focus for interior designers, biophilic designers must consider all five senses.

In bathrooms, prioritise tactile experiences by selecting products that feel pleasing to the touch.

Incorporate curved and rounded shapes in sanitaryware, textured tiles, wooden drawer units, and slate shower trays. This not only adds aesthetic appeal but also provides a tactile sensation reminiscent of nature.

Consider the acoustics in bathroom design since hard surfaces can create echoes. Introducing texture can absorb sound waves.

Plants are a great option as they not only dampen noise but also facilitate oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange, enriching the overall sensory experience of the space.

Using moisture-tolerant wallpaper can also dampen echoed sounds while bringing in patterns and colour to amplify your Biophilic goals.

Incorporating natural oils into your bath or shower routine can greatly benefit your health and well-being. Lavender, known for its relaxation and balancing properties, promotes stress relief and supports restful sleep.

Lemon oil, with its detoxifying properties, contributes to immune system function.

Eucalyptus, while refreshing and energizing, can be potent, so moderation is key.

Consulting with an aromatherapist is advisable to determine the best oils for your needs and preferences. This ensures you derive maximum relaxation and benefits from your bathroom space.



Humans are naturally drawn to thermal changes, known as Alliesthesia. Rapid shifts from hot to cold can evoke pleasant or unpleasant sensations depending on our internal state.

Cold water therapy, backed by research, can enhance the immune system and mood. Consider finishing your morning shower with a cold blast or adding ice cubes to your bath for an invigorating experience.

Ultimately, your bathroom should suit your lifestyle. Whether you're dipping your toes or diving headfirst into Biophilic Bathroom Design, numerous resources can guide you in selecting the right principles to incorporate into your space.



Want to learn more about Jackie Tyrrell?


With over 30 years in interior design, Jackie Tyrrell prioritizes client needs, specializing in space planning and practical solutions.

Her expertise spans residential and commercial projects, offering consultation at any stage of building or renovation. Clients value her original and life-enhancing designs.

Jackie Tyrrell boasts an impressive educational background, having lectured at the Dublin Institute of Design for 8 years.

She holds an Honours degree in Interior and Furniture Design, as well as a Masters in Professional Practice from Technological University Dublin.

Renowned for her specialization in Biophilic Design, Jackie has authored numerous articles and facilitates Biophilic Design courses through DPP Skillnet.

Jackie's Master's thesis researched the health and economic benefits of adopting Biophilic Design principles into the built environment. She is a proud member of the Interiors Association (Full Member) and the Institute of Designers in Ireland.

Ready to transform your bathroom with Biophilic Design? You can find out more about Jackie Tyrrell and Biophilic Design on or on instagram @jackietyrrelldesign