Healthy Homes: How to Have One... Part 2 – Material Selection

The materials that your house is made of and is furnished with can have a big impact on the spaces that you live in.

 

You may be surprised to know that some materials that your house is constructed with are toxic. Products can often release harmful chemicals which become airborne, often found in paints, plastics, vinyl, protective coatings, engineered wood products and insulation. Keep this in mind when you are building and where possible choose materials with low emissions or zero-VOC (volatile organic compound) products. To reduce these effects in an already built house – make sure that you have good ventilation through your house, and where possible clean with damp cloths and mops to minimise dust agitation.

 

In addition to the physical effects of poor material choice, your selection of materials that you furnish your house with can have a significant impact on your psychological health and enjoyment of your home.

 

While sleek, sophisticated materials are quite popular there runs the risk that they make a space feel too clinical. Make sure that you choose a mix of materials that have an interesting texture, warmth and softness. Not every surface or piece of furniture needs to have all three but elements of these within your space will minimise any feelings of discomfort. These are especially suitable for areas of your house where you want to feel more relaxed and cosy, such as the bedroom and the lounge room. If you choose a ‘scheme’ or ‘theme’ when buying these items it will help keep your space coherent and avoid clash and clutter which can be quite stressful to the eye and mind.

 

Some quick and easy examples to make a space more inviting are:

Warm coloured wood, whether it is floor boards or a wooden coffee table.

Warm toned splashback behind your cooktop. You don’t need to choose bright red or yellow but something with warm undertones, or warm colours pulling through can work wonders.

Textured lamp shades.

Wooden blinds or louvres

Thick luxurious curtains

Warm, thick, textured throws and cushions can make an elegant couch much more inviting.

Breakfast bench stools that are padded, have great patterns on them or made of interesting materials.

A warm toned or thick rug on your lounge room floor.

 

If you like to keep your walls and furniture quite monochrome, it is through accessories that you can put some pops of colour and textures and transform a space into something much more inviting. Then if you want to change things up in the future, it is relatively easy and low cost to replace accessories rather than expensive pieces of furniture.

 

What do you think of the kitchen of one of our projects above with warm timber floors and brick accents versus the white kitchen on the right?

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Healthy Homes: How to Have One… Part 1 - Natural Light

This is probably the most obvious feature needed to have a healthy home. Rooms that have lots of natural light feel comfortable and enjoyable to be in, while rooms that are poorly lit feel cramped and depressive. Natural light provides many benefits, psychologically, physically and financially, and is an essential feature in a healthy home.

Exposure to natural light actually encourages the production of serotonin in the brain and releases endorphins, both of which contribute to a happy state of mind. Additionally, natural light provides Vitamin D to your body which is an important vitamin that improves the immune system and helps reduce a long list of various ailments. You will also experience higher energy levels, a more regulated and better quality sleep, and healthier eyes.

With increased natural sunlight in your home comes a reduced requirement for artificial lighting and heating. This reduces the expenses of running your home and also the energy impact on the environment. The only caveat here is that while increasing sunlight into your home you need to consider the high temperatures that we experience in Perth summers and design to ensure that there is not excessive heat gain.

When designing a new home or renovation, natural light will be a significant consideration, in the orientation and layout of the home and the fenestration. Some practical tips for in the meantime:

  • Adding a mirror will reflect light into a space
  • Lighter colours reflect light more; consider painting a dark wall or ceiling, add a light coloured rug on a dark floor, paint your window frames a lighter colour, replace any large dark pieces of furniture with lighter coloured furniture.
  • Add a skylight
  • Replace heavy curtains or blinds with semi-sheer curtains or frosted glass to increase light but maintain privacy.
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Healthy Homes: How to Have One…An Overview

Do you ever walk into someone’s home and it just feels so… inviting? And on the other end of the spectrum, some buildings you enter make you feel just plain terrible. What is it exactly that makes a space feel enjoyable and comfortable and what is it about some spaces that make you want to leave as soon as you enter? It can be hard to pinpoint it on one thing but there are a few factors that contribute to an enjoyable and healthy home such as consideration of the natural lighting, the choice of materials throughout, the orientation and configuration of space, and the relationship between your house and the natural environment. If you carefully consider these you will have a home that is a healthier environment for you, both physically and mentally, and one which you will enjoy much more. Stay tuned over the next four weeks as we explore these individual elements in depth, including recommendations for your house.

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