The year 2020 changed things forever. We had to find ways to work productively at home. We had to learn how to manage additional stress. We realized just how dysfunctional our home spaces were for evolving needs. Mental health challenges skyrocketed.
The responses to this new reality seemed to sprout up just as fast as the world shut down—many of them permanent. For instance, home renovations became a priority because of the need for better home office spaces and the need for spaces that lifted the spirit.
Minimalist, gray-heavy palettes melted away in favor for warmer more personal designs. Wellness design and features were in demand in a way they never had been before and interior designers, architects, and builders shifted their focus to deliver.
Interior design for wellbeing involves creating spaces that promote physical, mental, and emotional health, fostering a sense of balance, comfort, and harmony within a given environment. Fireplaces have been cherished for centuries not just for their warmth but also for the sense of comfort, relaxation, and wellbeing they bring to a space.
No one has ever questioned this. Everyone agrees that fireplaces are comforting and pleasant—but no one really knows why.
Fireplace giant, Napoleon, decided to ask this question of several university researchers to find out if there was any science behind the love of fire and fireplaces to create wellbeing. The results were instant and undeniable.
The Impact on Wellbeing
Napoleon VP of Marketing, Garry Scott., said, “we learned through science that a fireplace is far more than a design feature. A fireplace is something that [when] you put it in the home, and you’re in your own space enjoying it in front of a fire, a lot of the stress melts away.”
Dr. Christopher Lynn of the University of Alabama found that just 15 minutes watching a fireplace can reduce heart rate and blood pressure by up to 6 points on average. Lower blood pressure helps combat stress-related illnesses like heart disease. Fireplaces have an undeniably relaxing effect.
Dr. Shannon Mejia of the University of Illinois conducted research surrounding the impact of fireplaces in an environment and discovered that participants had better cognitive function when the fireplace was on. Overall she found that cognitive performance increased by 12% making the fireplace a potential health technology.
Here’s some more fireplace wellbeing facts:
Physical Warmth: Fireplaces provide direct heat, creating a cozy atmosphere that helps maintain optimal body temperature, especially during colder seasons. This physical warmth can promote comfort and relaxation.
Emotional Comfort: The soft, flickering glow of a fireplace can have a calming effect, reducing stress and promoting a sense of security and comfort. It can evoke feelings of nostalgia and intimacy, fostering emotional wellbeing.
Gathering Space: Fireplaces often serve as focal points in living areas, encouraging social interaction and creating a gathering spot for family and friends. Gathering around a fireplace can facilitate bonding and strengthen relationships, contributing to emotional wellness.
Ambiance and Relaxation: The ambiance created by a fireplace, with its gentle crackling sounds and hypnotic flames, can induce relaxation and reduce anxiety. It's often associated with mindfulness and stress reduction.
Connection to Nature: Fireplaces offer a connection to primal elements, reminding us of our relationship with nature. This connection can evoke a sense of grounding and tranquility, promoting a feeling of wellbeing.
Aesthetic Appeal: Beyond their functional purpose, fireplaces can be visually appealing and add character to a room. The aesthetics contribute to creating an inviting and comforting environment that positively impacts mood.
Reduced Dependency on Technology: Gathering around a fireplace encourages people to disconnect from electronic devices and engage in meaningful, face-to-face interactions. This break from technology can enhance mental wellbeing by reducing screen time and promoting social connections.
Ritual and Tradition: Fireplaces often carry cultural or familial significance, representing traditions or rituals that evoke feelings of belonging and comfort, contributing to a sense of wellbeing and identity.
Seasonal Influence: During colder months or in regions with colder climates, fireplaces offer a respite from the harsh weather, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere that can positively affect mental and emotional health.
The Impact on Design
Sabrina Soto, interior designer said, “understanding the correlation between your wellbeing and the space you create is so powerful.” That sentiment is at the heart of wellness design and what fuels the shift in the industry.
Color, shape, pattern, and style trends have all been significantly influenced by wellness. Warmer colors, more personal touches, and comforting organic looks are what dictate the majority of the designer's work these days. Fireplaces are one of the go-tos that help create the look and feel homeowners want.
Wayne Visbeen, architect, says that fire is one of the most important parts of architecture, “it’s built into who we are.” He continues, “a fireplace belongs in every room.” Thus you’ll see more products built for every circumstance. Fireplaces for the bathroom, outdoors, kitchen, and bedroom are now available in addition to more traditional spaces like the living room.
If you can dream it, there’s a fireplace for it.
The Fireplace Effect
The fireplace extends beyond mere warmth. Whether it's an electric or traditional one, sitting by it has profound effects: reducing blood pressure and heart rate, fostering relaxation, and mitigating the risk of stress-related conditions. Additionally, it plays a crucial role in supporting mental wellbeing.
The phenomenon has been called “the fireplace effect” by researchers. Though research is new and in the early stages, the results are incontrovertible, and more research is bound to follow.
Ready to add more wellbeing to your spaces?