Designer Tips

How to Rethink Your Space With Wellness and Relaxation in Mind

7 AD PRO Directory members share how to optimize your interiors for healthier living
A beachside property that Skornicka Designs  Construction Inc. refreshed incorporates rows of greenery outside natural...
A beachside property that Skornicka Designs & Construction Inc. refreshed incorporates rows of greenery outside, natural stone elements, large windows, and sliding doors “seamlessly connecting the indoors to the natural beauty outside,” says AD Pro Directory member Susan Skornicka.Photo: Adam Potts

A new year is a blank slate for starting fresh with intentions on how to move about the world, and also on how to prioritize within your immediate surroundings. Organizing your life might be at the top of your list right now, but don’t overlook the effects that refreshing and rearranging your interiors can have on your lifestyle too. Optimizing the spaces where you recharge to be more calming, welcoming, and restful can not only boost your mood, but also sow the seeds for improved well-being overall.

Silvana Vergara, cofounder and principal at Studio Tove in New York City, sees wellness in interior design and architecture as more of a necessity than merely a trend. “Simple yet effective strategies, such as maximizing natural light, incorporating plants for air purification, and choosing furniture made from sustainable and non-toxic materials can make a substantial difference,” she emphasizes. “This approach where design harmoniously intertwines with health ensures that every element, from walls to furnishings, fosters a positive and nurturing environment.”

Whether you’re building a dedicated wellness room or seeking tips for how to enhance the flow and energy of an existing space, here are AD PRO Directory designer-approved ideas on how to elevate your home in a way that’s holistically and aesthetically pleasing.

Wood “waste” material makes up the parquet flooring in this Studio Tove project, and the rug is made from a combination of natural fibers—jute and wool.

Photo: Monica Barreneche Olivares

Embrace the Natural World

Tanya Ryno, owner of Iron House Design in New Jersey, specializes in creating luxury home gyms and wellness spaces for clients around the country. Recently, she’s noticed a growing design trend of the “deliberate blurring of boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces to enhance overall well-being.” In cases like these, Ryno suggests “large, or even oversized, sliding glass doors that not only allow for physical movement between the two spaces but also ensure a visual and emotional connection with the outdoors, even when inside.” That strong connection to light, fresh air, and nature not only results in a space that’s aesthetically pleasing, she says, but also one that’s conducive to physical health and mental well-being.

Using natural materials can also foster an affinity to the outdoor world. Laurie Molton, principal designer and founder of Lolo Interiors in California, uses the example of an environment that features slabs of limestone “in a way that is reminiscent of carving the entire space from the earth” or textured materials and objects that come from nature. “Incorporating a touch of patina and organic materials that age over time; or handmade pieces such as pottery, a woven basket, a vintage wood stool, or a vintage rug will layer the space in a meaningful way that makes you feel inspired and grounded,” Molton says.

Source Wisely

Another way to feel better in your home is to prioritize non-toxic materials, which often have the benefit of being better for the environment too. Vergara suggests embracing natural fibers, low-VOC paints, sustainable woods, and natural stone or recycled-glass countertops to enhance a home’s indoor air quality and sustainability. Sarah Solis, founder and principal of California’s Sarah Solis Design Studio, adds that plaster and clay are two materials she prefers for natural wall finishes because of the environmental benefits.

Even something as simple as these custom drawer organizers, seen in a Beauty Is Abundant project, can make a dent on how you feel in your space.

Photo: Marc Mauldin Photography

Uncomplicate Your Space

“Heading into a new year, a huge focus for clients and in my personal home is getting organized and staying that way,” says Leah Alexander, founder and principal of Atlanta, Georgia’s Beauty Is Abundant. One big area of opportunity she sees for an overhaul is the closet. She recommends going custom whenever possible with lots of built-in storage (three to five drawers, if the space permits) so you won’t need an additional dresser in the bedroom. “This allows for ease and expansiveness spatially, but also consolidates all clothing into one area,” Alexander explains.
Another moment for integrating storage solutions is installing drawer organizers like the custom ones pictured here within your cabinets (Alexander suggests this Marie Kondo style for a similar look). “Small, smart storage solutions like organizers in every drawer in a home make a big difference in keeping calm and clutter-free.”

Incorporate Calming Colors

Swathing your interiors in soothing tones will not only affect the vibe of your space, it might also shift your own vibe, as well. Fire-engine or tomato red hues can quicken the pulse and energize a space while a cooler color temperature like blue radiates calm, says Shelly Preziosi, founder and principal of Shelly Preziosi Designs Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida. It’s all about what mood you’re hoping to tap into, Preziosi adds, explaining that “if being with family and socializing is the goal, warm colors will create the energy of that feeling.”

Jasmine Sims, owner and principal designer of Sims + Co. Design in Charlotte, North Carolina, explains that one space in particular where color theory “reigns supreme” is the bedroom, a place that’s critical for rest and recharging. “I tend to opt for neutral tones such as warm tans and cool blues to elicit a sense of calm in the space.”

“My goal is always to create moments throughout a space that allow for rest and reprieve,” Laurie Molton says of this serene bathroom she and her team grounded with a neutral color palette and organic raw materials. “Details like the placement of a bathtub allow for better connection to nature, inviting in beautiful views that create a fully immersive experience.”

Photo: Courtesy of Lolo Interiors

Let the Sun In

Vitamin D and improved sleep quality are just two health perks of getting plenty of sunshine. In your home, sunlight can also make cramped spaces appear more open and lend them a sense of airiness and brightness. The starting point for Molton’s designs for mindful spaces is finding a balance of natural elements such as light and connection to the outdoors. “Being mindful of how sunlight will play in the space, I create opportunities to enhance the natural illumination with thoughtfully placed windows that offer a soft glow and movement as the light travels throughout the day.”

A living plant wall featured in a Skornicka Designs & Construction Inc. project, pictured with a True Guardian sculpture by Robert Adams.

Photo: John Merkl

Go Green

Even if you’re not adept at keeping plants alive, adding more greenery can make any neglected corner of your home feel more welcoming. “Integrating houseplants in home design is a beautiful and easy way to add life to a space,” says Susan Skornicka, founder of Skornicka Designs & Construction Inc. in Marin County, California. The designer notes that they can moonlight as accent pieces for rooms that need a jolt of color while also being therapeutic to take care of—offering a litany of other benefits from mood-boosting to cleaning indoor air.

Beyond consulting AD’s list of designer-approved houseplants, make a statement with your greenery by consolidating them with a living wall that can serve as a conversation piece and living artwork. On a recent beachside project, Skornicka worked with Habitat Horticulture to create this lush installation that’s a verdant combination of vine-like plants and succulents chosen to complement the surroundings.