More and more families and businesses are recognizing the value of designing for health, and working with architects like LEAP to create happier homes and more productive businesses. You probably spend a significant amount of time in your home, but is that affecting your health for better or worse? Check out 5 ways we design to ensure a healthy home, which also makes you feel great!
5 Benefits of a Happy, Healthy Home
Feel better, save money, and add more of that je ne sais que to your day. Sound good? We think so. LEAP’s design process was developed to truly understand and enhance your family’s goals, dynamics, and needs. We gather information and then custom design your space, while working to save you money in the construction phase, and long-term on utilities.
How do we do that?
We consider all of the following aspects in LEAP’s Residential Designs.
- Enhance Family Life
- Enhance Sleeping, Eating, Bathing and Living Lifestyles
- Increase Daylight
- Promote Healthy Indoor Air
- Increase Energy Efficiency
For today, let’s look at some of the specific ways design can enhance your life with respect to enhanced family life, and living lifestyles.
Enhanced Family Life
Architecture, whether or not we realize it, can shape our relationships with each other and our environment, through space, form, and materials. How? By creating interactive settings—places to congregate, or just making it difficult to avoid each other. For example, designing so the stairs to the upper floor bedrooms cannot be accessed from the front hallway. This directs everyone to pass through the main living space, creating more opportunity for family interaction, as opposed to a straight bee-line upstairs. More open floor plans, or the use of L-shaped interlocking rooms can also creative a sense of connectedness, even when family member are technically in a different “room”. Increased human interactions improve our sense of well-being, enrich our lives, make them healthier and more pleasurable.
“The shaft of sunlight in a recessed window seat that creates a moment of warmth and calm, combined with a glimpse of nature, soft and acoustically absorbent seat materials, and the tactile delight of the smooth grip to adjust a wooden shutter.
Our well-being is intimately linked with such moments of delight. To an extent, such stimuli happen all the time, often without being recognized or designed, but when they are orchestrated throughout a building the effect is cumulative.” –Koen Steemers, D&A Magazine issue 23 by VELUX
Enhanced Sleeping, Eating, Bathing and Living Lifestyles
The design of the bedroom can make or break a good night’s sleep. Naturally, light plays an important role for sleep cycles. A good dose of morning light will stimulate the circadian rhythm and help you feel more awake. Conversely, at night, bedrooms should have effective blackout options to support total darkness. This can be achieved using thermal shutters (for cold periods) and/or with adjustable louvers (for secure night time ventilation in warm conditions).
The bedroom shown at the right was designed as part of a master suite addition. It has an open floor plan between the bedroom and the bathroom, with a partial wall that creates a sense of boundary. The openness of the space allows sunlight to permeate far into the bedroom space, which gently illuminates the space in the morning. By afternoon, the space is so bright, no additional illumination is required. The white walls, ceiling and floor tile provide a sense of calm, spaciousness, and airiness. The wood bed and headboard/partition ground the space for a restful sleep.
And for tonight’s kitchen performance… A good strategy for healthy, community eating is to create a sense of theater related to cooking. This can be achieved through designing in accessible counter-tops and seating, allowing for both spectating and participating (like the breakfast bar with stools shown to the right). To further support communal eating, (and the social interactions that result) the dining area should be adjacent to the kitchen, making an easy transition from preparation to eating enjoyment. (Read how LEAP used Ikea cabinets to get this look)
Conversely, the TV area should further from the kitchen, limiting the temptation to mentally check-out and simply down your food, while watching reruns of Seinfeld.
Hopefully we do not need to go over the merits of good personal hygiene here, well, unless you have a teen that refuses to shower. Bathing and the family or master bath have so many functions. When washing, the surroundings should not only enable you to get clean, but to also mentally wash away the day. You should be able to both literally and figuratively cleanse yourself. Bathrooms should generally feel serene, have clean lines, streamline fixtures, which should be easy to keep clean, along with the proper amount of storage. The master bath shown to the left creates an ultra calming atmosphere, with its white and soft gray pallet, along with contemplative views of nature. (BTW, this addition won a design award).
A thermal design strategy encompasses not only room temperature, but also radiant conditions, air movement, and thermal conduction of materials. We’re talking about things like sunlight, natural ventilation, and the feel of materials. Materials such as wood feel warm to the touch, while stone is cooling.
These various characteristics can be mixed and matched to create the mood for different rooms. A reading nook could comfortably warm, with ample sunlight and plenty of wood and fabric surfaces to create a cozy retreat. You may want your office to feel more stimulating—cooler both temperature and material-wise, minimal clean lines, with a good view outdoors for inspiration.
Sound is another important consideration. As with thermal design, different materials have different acoustic properties, which can be tailors to fit the space. Within the home there are places where acoustic privacy is welcome, and spaces where room-to-room conversation is desired.
The great room shown on the right was designed with a mixture of materials (wood floors and beams, stone fireplace, metal staircase and rails) to be a stimulating, yet balanced space. The high ceiling creates an air of magnificence, while the natural materials (wood and stone) provide a grounding effect.
Are you considering an addition or building a new home? Leverage LEAP’s design expertise to make the most of your new happy and healthy home.