Designing with Intention: Creating a healthier home and planet

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Designing with Intention: Creating a healthier home and planet

For most, our homes are where we feel the most at peace. It’s where we feel good, where we feel happy, and where we can choose to surround ourselves with things that bring out the best in us every day. In addition to our wellness, many homeowners are concerned about the health of our environment. Luckily, creating a space that is as beautiful as it is beneficial to our planet and your vitality is easier than you might think.

Your home’s interior design can align with your goals of creating a space that encourages health, wellbeing, and eco-friendly practices. Matthew Tenzin, a skilled designer at Joe McGuire Design, based in Boulder and Aspen, believes that good design should be intentional, long-lasting, and sustainable.

Planet-Focused Furnishings

Sustainable and fashionable homes are not reserved for those living in ultra-luxury homes. Ethically sourced furniture is more common than one might think. Some of your favorite home décor and furniture stores may be sustainably sourcing their materials and you don’t even know it. Some popular brands such as Crate and Barrel, West Elm, Design Within Reach, and IKEA, have already implemented different sustainability practices to lessen their impact on the planet. These practices may not yet apply to all of their products, but sales reps are usually able to point out their products that have sustainable features. Other brands like Polywood, use “lumber” made from durable recycled plastic to reduce the amount of plastic in our oceans and landfills. Even incorporating vintage furniture or upgrading furniture you already own with a new paint finish, a slipcover, or new hardware can change the look and feel of your space without needing to purchase brand new pieces. There are plenty of options at all price points for those who want to design their home with fashionable and sustainable furnishings.

Create Your Vision Without the Chemicals

Some might be surprised to learn that the way they decorate their home not only affects the Earth but their health too. Specific materials used in making furniture, treating rugs, and in paints can make those with sensitivities ill – often without even knowing that their décor is the culprit. “Non-toxic materials are not necessarily a top priority for everyone, but over-exposure to various chemicals can lead to chronic illnesses and sensitivities, so it helps to lean towards natural, untreated fabrics and finishes wherever possible,” noted Tenzin. To mitigate the risk of these side effects, Tenzin suggests working with a design firm that is aware of these harmful additives and can find healthier alternatives. Luckily, some of today’s most popular styles incorporate natural materials such as wood, stone, clay, and textiles made of alpaca, wool, hemp, and organic cotton. Tenzin commented, “Aesthetically, people are drawn to a more natural vibe right now. The look is more organic, relaxed, and earthy. This look can be incorporated into all types of homes, from modern to traditional. I think this speaks to our craving for nature.” Even natural mattresses can give your house a healthy upgrade. Also, opt for low VOC or no VOC paint, which will emit fewer harmful fumes and keep your air cleaner.

Illuminating New Concepts in Lighting

By nature, humans tend to rise when the sun is up and wind down for the day once it sets. This circadian rhythm impacts our daily routines so much that it is even taken into consideration when choosing the lighting for a space. The use of harsh lights at night can disrupt our bodies’ internal clock and leave us feeling too awake in the evening and groggy in the morning. To mitigate these effects, Tenzin mentioned that designers now use human-centric circadian lighting – a new lighting concept that sends light signals to the brain to help reinforce the natural light/dark signals we would receive from the sun if we spent more of our time outdoors. Using this innovation, the home’s lights will shift in hue throughout the day, from a cooler or bluer white during daylight hours and a warmer more yellow light in the evening. This new approach is used to promote an enhanced mood, better sleep, and an overall improved sense of well-being.

Buying Back Your Carbon Impact

Did you know that you can purchase carbon offsets to reduce the impact your home makes on the environment? Using online calculators, such as buildcarbonneutral.org, can help you see how much carbon your construction or remodel project is producing and balance that number by funding resources like renewable energy or reforesting projects to offset your environmental impact. Tenzin provided the example, “there are many variables, but the construction of a 5,000 square foot home in Denver would emit an estimated 157 tons of CO2. With offsets purchased at $18.70 per ton, it would cost just under $3,000 to offset the carbon impact of the building, a small cost in relation to the overall cost of the home. It’s not a substitute for making other sustainable and energy-efficient choices throughout the process, but it is a great way to help ensure that the home is not contributing to climate change while funding the planting of protected forests and bringing peace of mind.” This innovative way to help the planet will soon be a standard part of Tenzin’s design process at Joe McGuire Design.

There are so many ways to make your house look and feel amazing without compromising your own health or the health of the planet. To learn more about incorporating sustainability and wellness into your next interior design project, visit joemcguiredesign.com.

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