Luxury and livability might not be the first aspects of a home that you’d equate with sustainability, but they are a key part of the WELL Designed™ Home. Now, it’s probably fair to say that luxury and livability are already connected in your mind to interior design in general, so let’s start there and take a closer look at what luxury and livability can mean.
Luxury in the context of the WELL Designed™ Home can mean adding convenience; for example, home automation systems such as lighting controls. You are probably already aware that it’s possible to set lighting scenes for particular activities at the touch of a button, as well as program in high use and low use periods and the lighting appropriate for those times, conserving resources and promoting safety in that way. But consider circadian rhythm lighting controls. These enhance your health and well-being by adjusting your light throughout the day. Lighting starts out warm and subtle, gets brighter, and then gets dimmer and warmer again. Our bodies have evolved to respond to that pattern and this lighting can bathe your home to promote optimal energy levels and wellness.
Then there are the materials we use. A variety of textures and finishes throughout the home not only enhance the sense of luxury and livability, but also connect to the use of natural materials, often locally sourced and renewable. That just makes sense in terms of environmental sustainability. These materials reflect the surroundings and, like the circadian lighting, help you stay in sync with nature.
Of course, having a variety of textures is one of the hallmarks of luxury. Silk, mohair, and cashmere are natural fibers and are sustainable. They feel wonderful to the touch, look amazing and make you feel good.
Another aspect of eco-conscious design and livability is choosing furnishings that fit your life. Rather than buy cheap throwaway furniture (thinking, I’ll buy better later, after the kids grow up) choose furnishings that will last for years and years. Of course, if you have kids, choose durable fabrics that are kid-friendly, and the same goes for the finishes. This is more sustainable because you aren’t tossing these items into the landfill after a couple of years. Rather, one of the greenest things you can do is to re-use or use for longer anything you have in your home. It gives you peace of mind when you have furniture that you are confident will hold up in these ways.
This brings me to an aspect of livability that you can attain by circumventing something we see in our society all too often, what I call the “disposable mentality.” Instead of contributing to the aforementioned landfill, we encourage our clients to take the approach, “I’m in this for the long haul.” This philosophy then drives your decisions, so they are not only easier to make because of the clarity you feel, but done with intention.
This tends to mean choosing pieces that are more timeless, not trendy. The same is true with finishes. They last longer, you tend not to get tired of them, and they don’t end up feeling dated after a year or two. This circles back to eco-consciousness.
When you’re not following trends, you are choosing pieces you love and that feel good to you and most likely will continue to do so. These choices are supporting your lifestyle; for example, achieving excellent quality spaces for yoga, your office, or hobbies using the highest quality and more enduring of the finishes and furnishings.
This brings us to the realization that livability is also about designing your space and home for how you live and making it customized, rather than you adapting to the builder’s convenience. You will have spaces that accommodate what you like to do.
You can have a kitchen designed specifically for the way that you cook, for example. A serious cook will want to make sure the items used most frequently are within easy reach (pans, spices, specialty storage cabinets -- everything at your fingertips.) We can design a kitchen ergonomically; we can put your double ovens side by side, so both are at that perfect level. If you like to bake, you may want to have a countertop that’s at a lower level for when you make pie crust or cookies. If you aren’t of average height, you may want cabinets an inch or two higher or lower than standard. That’s livability.
All of these luxury and livability features of your WELL Designed™ Home enhance your overall perception of well-being when you come into the house, knowing that it’s so perfect for you. And it is -- both in terms of what you see and touch and in how your home affects your health at a physical level because you made the right choices for you.