Double-height rooms, curved windows, dark nooks and botanical prints plastered from wall-to-wall; the living spaces in which we reside have a profound impact on our wellbeing. From relaxation to productivity, energy levels to quality of sleep; the sounds, shapes and textures which graze our touch and feast in our ears can have lasting effects.

Neuroarchitecture, a word relatively new to the design world, is filtering into the infrastructures all around us. Hospitals whose spaces can better aid healing, circular childcare settings that emit the feeling of safety and workplaces where distraction is minimized while collaboration encouraged. When it comes to homes, neuroscience also plays its part. Whether designed to harness nature’s soothing qualities or create dark corners which invite privacy, our habitats tell both stories of what has been and what is yet to come.

It was Steven Holl, FAIA (Fellow of the American Institute of Architects) who said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” And so here we explore eight properties which stir the soul with purposeful design.


Clad in larch from the surrounding estate, both inside and out, the masterminds behind this wildly grown-up self-catering treehouse have designed it so that guests feel like a bird at roost. An open-plan living area with wraparound windows looking into the trees brings guests together, while the bedrooms serve as cosy retreats into dreams. Light-filled and at one with the seasons, this unique Devon home is as peaceful as it is inspiring.


Celestial, Romanesque, playful and surprising; Cadence stands as an unexpected journey through the owner and architect’s life. Its red bricks and stepped exterior contrasts with the green and pleasant West Sussex countryside; inside, its silky concrete hides secret staircases and reading nooks, family spaces giving way to large, Venetian hallways. Blurring fantasy and reality, this RIBA award-winning home in the South Downs National Park is not to be missed.

Gaia Farmhouse

Green for the surrounding fells, grey for the Lake District’s weathered stones and burnt amber for the autumnal bracken which covers the National Park in a fiery blanket from September until the first snow; Gaia Farmhouse’s interiors reflect the illustrious landscape in which it sits with such grace, it’s as much a part of it as the ground itself.


Enveloped in big Scottish skies and at one with the eagles which soar above, Solas’ enormous windows look out across the Isle of Harris’ paradisiacal Luskentyre Beach. Inside this modern retreat, cool minimalism and a monochrome colour scheme give a sense of true wellness, which is only enhanced by the separate spa building (including sauna, hot tub and yoga deck) accessed via an external bridge, best enjoyed when the Northern Lights are dancing overhead.


Reigniting the artist within, Rhapsody’s wonky timber beams, daring interiors and garden bursting with sculptures swoops guests out of the real world and into the closest thing to Wonderland that can be found. Here, reality seems a lifetime away; what more could one want than true, unabashed escapism just an hour from London?

Gulliver's Hall

Classic but with a dash of English eccentricity thrown in, Gulliver’s Hall wraps guests in sumptuous comfort. A truly nourishing Cotswold home that invites all who walk through its doors to truly relax. Ancestral stories weave themselves through the farmhouse’s foundations while bright colours, bold prints and a spa ensure entertainment and relaxation perfectly intertwine. This is a home that will inspire joy in each and every visitor who steps through the door.

The Glasshouse

Built from materials sourced from the surrounding land, The Glasshouse offers families a wholesome escape into the Welsh wilderness, perched right on the banks of the River Teifi, not far from Cardigan. Rushing clouds and the meandering estuary collide outside the house’s huge apex windows; inside it’s all light and organic to reflect the ever-changing scenery outside.

The Lost Music Hall

Created by a London dandy as both a party house and a place to retreat from the world, The Lost Music Hall’s high ceilings, wood panelling and sprawling gardens invoke lofty feelings of inspiration and calm in equal measure. A house designed with good times in mind, there is plenty of space for gathering with family and friends beside the pool or for relaxed suppers in the grand old music room.