Top Tips for Healthy Home Design

Lay the foundation for a healthy home that nourishes your body and soul

A cylinder pod room houses the kitchen in this modern home
Use architecture to create spaces out of the ordinary. Photo by Astro-O / Caiaimage / Getty Images

You know when you have entered a healthy home. Regardless of the period and style, there is a sense of harmony and purity that nourishes both body and soul. Over time, you may also notice that you breathe more easily, feel more content, and begin each day with heightened energy and enthusiasm.

One of the great ironies of the twentieth century is that the very technologies intended to enhance our well-being have often undermined our health:

  • Modern heating and cooling systems entice us with promises of temperature-perfect rooms, yet colds and allergies plague us
  • Chemical additives permit more durable paints, fabrics, wood, and construction materials, yet they fill the air with toxic fumes
  • Mass-produced synthetics and composite construction materials appear to save money, yet their ingredients trouble us with ailments ranging from mild headaches to severe depression.

Ultimately, there's something unsatisfying about wrinkle-proof fabrics and laboratory-created walls and floors. Lacking the warmth and patina of materials drawn from nature, they sap our spirits in ways that are subtle yet profound.

What Is A Healthy Home?

The healthy home nurtures those who dwell inside and also protects the world beyond its walls. Designed with sensitivity for the environment, it is energy-efficient, economical, sustainable, and non-polluting.

A healthy home may resemble the eco-friendly houses that evolved as part of the popular green architecture movement of the 1980s and 1990s.

Drawing from ancient building techniques, these homes are constructed of earth, clay, straw or insulated concrete forms (ICFs). Steel-reinforced concrete forms one-piece monolithic domes. Naturally cooled and solar-powered, a Net-Zero Energy Building (NZEB)  provides modern comforts without draining resources.

However, you don't need to set up housekeeping in a monolithic dome or an earth-sheltered dwelling to live in harmony with nature. Even the most traditional homes, which may have been built long before the rise in environmental consciousness, can be adapted to incorporate the key principles of healthy design.

Design Checklist for a Healthy Home:

In addition to our Top Tips for Relaxing Home Design, here's a checklist for healthy home design:

Healthy for the Body

  • Free your home from toxins
  • Arrange furnishings and storage for comfort and ease
  • Get rid of bulky, dust-collecting cushions
  • Vent moisture from damp rooms
  • Create special places for exercise and relaxation

Healthy for the Psyche

  • Clear away clutter
  • Let in the sun
  • Choose mood-enhancing colors
  • Grow fragrant herbs
  • Fill rooms with soothing, natural sounds
  • Isolate electronics to one room
  • Change behaviors—take off your shoes before entering living spaces

Healthy for the Soul

  • Provide quiet places for reflection
  • Replace throwaways with keepsakes
  • Strive for simplicity and moderation
  • Bring nature indoors
  • Honor the environment

What Others Say:

To design a healthy home, it's so important to choose healthy, environmentally-friendly paints, furnishings, and construction materials.

Where do you begin? Here are more suggestions for making a home a healthier place.

Healthy paint: I use a non-toxic no-voc paint when painting my home.—Guest debrah

Rest, Comfort with Color + Natural Air: I live in a home which I participated in designing and constructing, but it belongs to my godly mentor. It is vital that I share the principles I adopted for my room's design to make it support my rest and comfort. I have mentioned "rest" because during the day I get completely engaged in one activity or another and I need a space which can induce relaxation. I went for cool colors, all of emulsion-based paint. The under decking is painted pink (a conscious attempt to break out of the traditional monochromatic tendency of using white) with the cornice in white while the walls are painted with pale mint (a texture gotten from toning leaf green plus off-white).

I placed the windows in opposite directions to take advantage of the direction air flows into the compound. Therefore, my room at different hours of the day produces a cool feel for me and my visitors. Apart from the above essence, it gives the room a fascinating appearance, which most people admire. Reduce your body pains with this idea.—Guest Ejeng Ukabi

Source: Ideas from this article are adapted from The Healthy Home, a home design book by Jackie Craven, Rockport Publishers.