Health and wellness drive interior design decisions for homes
Designer Thom Filicia, seen here in his own home, said clients now see their home in a different way and need it to function as office space, a place to do yoga, meditate and hang out with their family. All of this contributes to well-being, he said.
Before interior designer Cheryl Luckett started her career in furniture, she was a dietician and remembers when the concept of “wellness” first came into being many years ago. She has also seen this concept evolve from a focus on diet and exercise to a more holistic understanding of overall wellness.
The quest for optimal health and well-being, a dynamic that began several years ago and accelerated during the pandemic, is now centered on and in the home.
“[It’s about] the way we live and the importance we place on our home to support our way of life,” said Luckett, a self-described homebody. “Eyes have been opened, and I hope that won’t change.”
According to The NPD Group, a market research firm, nearly two years after the pandemic hit the United States, retail sales of products in the health and wellness categories continue to hit highs. optimal growth rates. This includes products such as filters for air purifiers, massagers, free weight equipment and sound machines. Revenue in each of those categories more than doubled in 2021, compared to 2019, according to NPD. Many categories related to cleaning, fitness, food preparation, storage and preservation continued to grow by double digits last year, as did books on home, gardening, crafts , hobbies, self-help and cooking.
“This growth suggests that health and wellness is a lingering pandemic trend, which could provide opportunities for continued consumer spending,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry adviser for NPD.
Designer Libby Langdon of Libby Langdon Interiors said she sees more and more customers wanting to bring home objects that nurture them in nourishing and satisfying ways. “I think the quest for a healthy home these days can be as much a mental approach as it is a biological ecological approach,” she said. “People want to be gentle with their time at home so they feel recharged and invigorated when they return to their office or out into the world.”
Luckett, whose North Carolina business is called Dwell by Cheryl, said she’s seen this happen in her clients’ requests for a room in their home to play games, meditate, relax and recharge, and entertain friends and neighbors. “I can’t tell you how many lounges we’ve created,” she said, referring to adult hangouts with amenities ranging from bar cabinets to pool tables to comfy seating for four. or five friends.
Luckett also created many game rooms with tables particularly suited to puzzles and board games. Meditation spaces are another popular request. Luckett described them as “Zen spaces” where people can read, listen to podcasts or meditate. “Right now I’m converting a wine cellar into a meditation space,” she said. Other people want their home office to double as a yoga space.
Designer Shayla Copas of Shayla Copas Interiors agreed. “Guests are asking for workout rooms, yoga studios, meditation spaces and water features to reduce stress,” she said.
This need for multi-functional spaces calls for flexible, truly multi-functional furniture and accents. “Details really matter now,” Luckett said. This can mean simple and practical product features, like lids on storage baskets to hide yoga mats inside, or tables and chairs on casters so they can be pushed to one side when a different activity takes place in a room. Products that were once deemed appropriate for small living spaces are now suitable for homes of all sizes, Luckett said.
She’ll also be keeping an eye out for these types of products at High Point Market this month. She acknowledged how difficult it is for manufacturers to get products into the pipeline with all the supply chain hurdles they face, but said she wanted to see more intentionality in the way whose products are developed for multifunctional rooms.
Luckett will be on the lookout for a desk that moves up and down “that doesn’t look like it’s from Office Depot,” and great upholstered office chairs, which are easier to find, she said. .
Designer Monika Nessbach, owner of Charlotte, NC’s designbar, will also be on the lookout for multifunctional products, like adjustable side tables that can accommodate a laptop. She is particularly interested in everyday furniture, like dining tables, with built-in tech features that also look great. “People want their house to feel like a home, not an office,” she pointed out.
Color is also an essential element to create an atmosphere. It can transform how you feel when you walk into the room, Langdon noted. “Color has the ability to make us feel emotion in our homes – orange and red equal energy, green and brown connect us to nature, blue and yellow bring a coastal vibe and pale aqua and icy blue provide a relaxing, spa-like feeling,” she said. “I always recommend that people decide on the look and function of a room for their lifestyle and then choose their scheme Color is truly a transformative design tool.
Luckett said she always starts a design project by asking her clients how they want the space to feel: Warm and cozy? Clean and invigorating? “These things are about color,” she said. “It’s more important than ever to get it right.”
The biophilia trend, the love for plants that encompasses everything from green walls to an abundance of indoor plants to an organic vegetable patch in the garden, is also fueling the health and wellness trend, Nessbach said.
Morgan Bills, owner of Southern Chic Interiors, agreed. “I currently use a lot more greenery in the homes, which helps purify the air,” she said.
Designer Victoria Sanchez has spent most of her 40-year design career on the East Coast (in the Washington, DC, northern Virginia area), but recently moved to Santa Fe, NM, where she owns Victoria at Home, a design firm and showroom. In the southwest, she says, there’s no humidity, no mosquitoes or flies, and the focus is on outdoor activities like hiking in the mountains. Wealthy, health-conscious retirees flock to the area for the clean air and outdoor living.
“That’s what brings them here,” Sanchez said. “Their homes reflect that.”
“Wool and sisal are the only two rugs I sell,” she said. If it offers a stain-resistant product, customers ask what kind, and if it contains a chemical element, they say no, Sanchez said. “They ask about poly fills and want to go low.
“People want handmade naturalness. I like this. In the process, I learn.
Her awareness of health and wellness and sustainable products has grown since moving to Santa Fe. “I want to get on the train,” she said. She was planning to attend Design Works International Creative Director Nancy Fire’s Sustainability Evening – a presentation of sustainable furnishings during the High Point Market – and will be looking for members of the Sustainable Furnishings Council while at High Point.
Bills will also be looking for more unique organic wood pieces that bring the outdoors inside, while Copas said she’s looking forward to seeing HempWood in the market. “Their very low VOC content [volatile organic compound] wood made from hemp intrigues me,” she said.
“Certainly the new focus on a healthy home has shaped what I look for when I’m at the market,” Langdon said. “It seems like a simple thing, but I’ll be opening the doors and drawers of crate products when I visit the showrooms in High Point. I’ll be looking for parts that might smell bad – that’s for me l One of the biggest complaints from customers looking to create healthy spaces for their families, they want to make sure there isn’t a strong, unpleasant odor when new pieces are introduced to their homes.
Designer Thom Filicia, who is co-master of ceremonies with Langdon for the Sustainable Furnishings Council’s 15th anniversary celebration at the High Point Market this month, said he has seen consumer awareness of sustainable furnishings increase in recent years, in the same way that people are paying more attention to food ingredient labels. It’s more part of everyday thought and conversation, he said.
“I think it’s had a big effect on the furniture market – in a good way,” he said. He cited the use of more home products, such as rugs, made from recycled plastic, the use of vegetable dyes, 100% wool products or natural fiber blends, wall paint and dyestuffs. low-VOC carpet adhesives, and more interest in locally sourced products and practices that “lean” toward the green, whether that means more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, the use of energy-efficient lighting or other practices. “It’s not just the product, it’s the big picture,” he said.
Allowing clients to spend 20 minutes a day in meditation or enjoying other wellness-related activities that are important to them is a self-imposed luxury, Filicia said. “Mix that with low VOC paints, 100% wool rugs with natural dyes, and all of a sudden there’s a conversation,” he said.
Over the past two years, we’ve all had time to stop, listen, and decide what’s important to us, Filicia added. “For a while we all ran without hearing,” he said. “Hopefully we can learn from COVID…and do things better.” —Lauren Roses contributed to this story