So what does it mean to design for 'wellness' and 'mindfulness' at home?
Although there are many different ways to answer that question, and I won't go into the #WELLBuildingStandard for now (that will be an upcoming post), these are some of the key aspects I've identified in my design practice:
Optimizing the spaces in your home for your health and well-being mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually
The initial phase when a client tells the designer what they need is what we usually call programming. This would be the ideal phase to tell your designer your wellness goals and if you have any specific needs or concerns for each space.
For example: if you struggle with sleeping in your master bedroom the designer might then want to do some detective work in the room for environmental cues that might be contributing to this (such as lighting, loud sounds nearby, temperature, location of AC vents, mattress comfort, etc.) and then propose some design suggestions to help improve these conditions.
Designing spaces that encourage mindfulness and awareness.
This can be done in many ways through environmental psychology so for example activating touch by choosing warm wood floors can help you feel more at ease in a space and gives an opportunity for connecting to your body by walking barefoot.
Another simple idea is to introduce mirrors at key moments in the house so you would have several 'encounters' with yourself as you circulate your home.
Of course all of these interventions require a conscious awareness in you to choose to engage and come back to the present moment. The environment can only provide invitations but it's up to you whether you engage with them or not. The idea is to layer these opportunities in to your home design so they feel natural and you discover them over time.
Creating a design process that is mindful and caring in each encounter with our clients & colleagues.
This includes practicing an empathetic approach, active listening and choosing to work with people that are in alignment with our values and work ethic. I find the project itself and collaborative efforts flow much better when we're each in our zone of genius and are feeling appreciated, respected and heard. It's a constant work in progress and certainly doesn't mean everything will always flow perfectly, but rather that we try relating to each other from a humane point of view, allowing space for honest communication and continuous growth.
Consider the environmental and social impact of the design decisions we are making.
This entails consciously choosing specific vendors or materials over others because they not only meet the project parameters but also make a better impact on people and the environment.
That means prioritizing our client's best interests and the project criteria, but when given a choice between two great products supporting the more responsible one. It also means actively seeking vendors, products, materials and installation methods with sustainable and regenerative aims.
So lastly this also means a personal commitment of our own time to learn about the latest and most responsible design solutions to make more informed decisions for our clients and their homes.
A designer can set you up for success but the rest is up to you .
So the creation of your home for you and your family's wellness, begins with the design but continues way past that with the care and intention you bring into your home, the habits you create and how you choose to live.
There are a series of healthy habits that can contribute to wellness at home that are within your control. Some are as simple as opening the windows and letting in sunlight and fresh air from time to time. We all have heard about the benefits of organization, decluttering and keeping a clean house. Also, biophilia is a REAL thing so just cultivating your own mini indoor forest can do great things for your health.
Ultimately the collaboration between the designer and the homeowner/s is what makes the dream work.