Wellness Living & Wellness Design at Home, Now Forever Trends
Moving fast, inundated with technology, connected by social media. These have grown to be the human way over the past few decades. So, naturally, knowing the importance of healthy living, we looked to wellness for balance. Those looking for a healthier lifestyle began paying attention to the ingredients in their foods, prioritizing exercise, mediation, and so on. We also saw the impact of our actions on our planet. We began to recycle, to pay attention to material composition, to desire sustainability.
Then hit 2020, a global pandemic that created a moment of pause. A moment of reflection. Our homes became our havens more than ever. Sleep, eat, work, learn, exercise, everything at home.
So while wellness living trends were on the up well before 2020, we have now hit a threshold. Wellness living and wellness design at home (and in public too, but that’s for another article!) are “trends” that are here to stay.
Read on to find out what top designers in the wellness design space have to say about living in a home that supports the physical, mental, and emotional health of its inhabitants. And explore some stunning private residences and planned residential communities dedicated to wellness. From home gyms, saunas, and yoga studios, to air filtration systems and sustainable, healthy building materials, wellness design has some key components and may just help you live a fuller life.
Can the ‘right home’ really help you live a longer, fuller life?
Paul Raff, an artist, architect, and founder of the Toronto-based Paul Raff Studio, thinks yes, we agree!
“I don’t know if there’s been a scientific study on this, but I absolutely do believe the right home can help you live longer. A home affects your mood and your sense of self; it affects your wellbeing and happiness. There are studies that support the positive effect of daylight on human health, and the effect of having visual connections to the outdoors, to trees and birds, but it’s also a matter of recognizing that the pleasure of the everyday moment and the comfort and satisfaction that comes from the right home contributes so much to your quality of life.”
What does the ‘healthy home’ of the future look like?
“The healthy home of the future looks smarter,” says Paul, “but frankly, I think it looks a little smaller too. We need to put more resources and emphasis on quality over quantity, on non-toxic materials, on air quality and comfort of the indoor air environment. The healthy home of the future needs to be flexible and adaptable so that it can evolve as individuals’ needs change and as the needs of future generations change, and it looks very, very, energy-efficient.”
Sarah Barnard, a WELL and LEED accredited designer with a focus on creating environments that support wellbeing, also sees a well-balanced, adaptable, smart home in the future.
“The healthy home of the future will exist at the intersection of technology and nature. Technology will enhance our home’s ability to respond to our physical and mental state in real-time. We already see lighting systems that automatically sync to our Circadian rhythms. At the same time, these high-tech features will be balanced by a new-found appreciation for “no tech” living. By that, I mean that as we gain more knowledge about our primal human responses to environment, the home of the future will gradually replace clutter with opportunity for connection: to oneself, to others, and to nature.”
Maybe your healthy home is in Paradise?
With virtual employment in many of our futures, who says your healthy home shouldn’t be in paradise?
For example…located high on a hillside in the Peloponnese, designed by award-winning architect Edward Tuttle, is Amanzoe Villa, your personal wellness retreat! A private swimming pool, spectacular sweeping ocean views, Aman hotel service, and access to a unique Individual Wellness Immersion program make Amanzoe Villa’s a wellness living paradise.
Hello long full life!
Maybe your healthy home is in the Country?
Ok so maybe moving to the Peloponnese is not in your future. How about a new residential development in West Dallas, Texas that is pioneering the trend towards creating more functional but beautifully healthy spaces?
Haciendas is a new residential development from award-winning architects Lake Flato. In creative partnership with Oaxaca Interests, these homes are built with a focus on fully functional rooms (no more unused, unnecessary areas), wellness (ultra-violet-light air purifying systems, fresh air exchange, and elimination of potentially toxic materials), and seamless indoor/outdoor living (each home has a private outdoor courtyard and plenty of green space so residents aren’t on top of neighbors). With three different smart footprints from which to choose and transportive, nature-led landscaping and courtyards by landscape design firm Hocker, Haciendas are modern homes intentionally designed with wellness and functionality in mind!
Not a fan of community living? How about a private residence with everything you need?
Or, perhaps you prefer the City?
With many high-rise residences focusing on wellness design and amenities, if city living is for you then get ready to take your pick. From rock-climbing walls, full-size indoor basketball courts, delightful children’s playrooms to onsite spas, pools, private parks, membership-worthy gyms, and a plethora of other wellness services high-rise residential buildings are a great way to live the wellness life.
Located inside Waterline Square—the starchitect-designed, three-building luxury residential development located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side by Rafael Viñoly, KPF, Richard Meier & Partners, and Hill West Architects—the sprawling Waterline Club is the most extraordinary and comprehensive private amenities club in New York City. Designed by Rockwell Group, the massive Waterline Club connects all three towers below the development’s public park. In addition, it boasts nearly 30 different types of best-in-class sports, fitness, creative and leisure spaces for all ages. Spaces include a squash court, 30-foot rock climbing wall, full-court basketball court, indoor soccer field, 25-meter pool, art studio, music and recording studio, indoor gardening studio, 4,600-square-foot children’s indoor playroom designed by award-winning children’s museum designer Roto Group, and much more.
What are the key components of wellness design at home?
Now that we are all imagining our dream healthy home! Here are the 5 key things Sarah Barnard says we should consider when bringing wellness into our homes.
Connection to Nature
We all benefit from design that nourishes our desire to be close to nature. Although many of us live in cities, there are many ways to connect our homes to the natural environment. This could be living with pets or plants, as well as positioning furniture that draws our gaze to a window that looks out to a tree or the sky. But connecting to nature in your home can also be more abstract. Incorporating art inspired by the outdoors or using natural materials in your home décor are great ways to connect. Study after study not only confirms that connection with the natural world reduces anxiety and increases feel-good hormones, tending to plants can actually cultivate happiness at the same rate as many common forms of exercise.
We spend the majority of our time indoors. And now with so many of us working from home, indoor air quality is more important than ever. Natural, non-toxic materials are of the highest importance. When we’re creating spaces for growing children, even more so. Using non-toxic elements in the home isn’t a simple proposition. Our small firm does huge amounts of research when sourcing everything from window treatments to throw pillows. Even when materials are non-toxic, they can be installed with adhesives and other products that negatively affect air quality.
There is a lot of recent debate about whether plants can in fact, purify indoor air. Still, we use a combination of non-toxic materials, air filtration systems, and indoor greenery to ensure the highest possible indoor air quality for all of our projects.
I help my clients live happy, productive lives by being empathetic and kind. And by creating physical space for them to feel comfortable and mentally / emotionally nurtured. What that looks like differs from project to project. But in many cases, it results in an open floor plan to create a feeling of serenity. We also often work to ensure smooth floor transitions. And utilize hands-free faucets to increase efficiency in any home and ensure that the design stands the test of time.
The entire concept of home as sanctuary — a place with the power to restore and replenish, as well as facilitate a connection to ourselves and others — is at the core of our work. This can mean that we opt for solid textiles, instead of pattern to keep from overloading the eyes. This is especially important in the bedroom, where energetic color and pattern can hinder sleep and relaxation.
Art isn’t a finishing touch or an afterthought. It’s at the core of our work. A study out of University College London found that viewing artwork lights up the brain’s pleasure centers, eliciting a neurological response that’s akin to falling in love. Functional and fine art activate interior spaces, encouraging us to pause, gaze deeply, and be transported to another world momentarily. These islands of time can have an enormous impact on our overall wellbeing.
What about the materials?
Sarah recently launched Kale Tree, a shop that designs exclusive, small batch runs of wall coverings, home decor, furniture, and furnishings made from natural and organic materials. So we asked Sarah about the importance of materials in wellness design.
“Ensuring materials are sourced responsibly is key to creating a healthy home and protecting the environment. Irresponsible farming of wood and mining of stone poses a serious ecological threat to the world. When these elements become part of the fabric of our lives, we believe that the ripple effect of environmental destruction enters our homes. We hand-make most of our goods, focusing on using natural, reclaimed and honest materials. Aside from being beautiful and healthy, pieces made this way tend to be more treasured and are more likely to be kept by a family for longer. Whether you live in the city, desert, ocean, prairie, jungle or elsewhere, a home that is physically and spiritually intertwined with its environment provides enormous physical, mental and emotional health benefits for everyone within it.”
Wrapping up wellness design at home
As we move to the future and wellness living becomes more relevant and necessary, Paul sums up the shift. “I also think the kind of amenities and features that people have prioritized will change. In other words instead of speaking about “how big” or “how many bedrooms”. Or about sales talking-points like “granite countertops” and “stainless steel appliances”. Hopefully, the conversation will instead shift to ask “How does this space make me feel?” or “How connected do I feel to my natural surroundings?” Those questions apply at the scale of the house or the multi-unit planned community. We can do better, and we are doing better. We are designing non-toxic, energy-efficient, environmentally responsible, healthy, and durable buildings, ones without un-sustainable materials like vinyl, buildings made with paints that don’t off-gas.”
By Anna Beck Bimba
Feature Image: Design by Paul Raff. Photo by Steve Tsai.