Our last blog, Healthy Home Part 1, we talked about the healthy renovations a City apartment dweller has made to her home. This attention to personal health and well being has also made it to the suburbs, as Part II demonstrates.
Healthy Home – Part II
A young couple who have two children recently approached us to design a new house for their family in Rumson, New Jersey. It is a beautiful estate property that offers views to the Navesink River with a full dock, episodic gardens, and terraced pools. They want to create a place for entertaining friends, family and business clients.
We designed the lower level to be a dedicated entertainment and relaxation space with a comprehensive spa, fitness, and wellness enclave, with walk out “social garden space” with a 10’h green wall and a 20’ long fire place. The design also contains a grand relaxation room, wine tasting room and home theater, complimented with a fitness room and nurturing couples massage room.
We designed a pool that combines several features:
– A lap pool
– A waterfall Jacuzzi for 6 integrated within the pool
– A water aerobics space with aqua-bike and resistance equipment
– A deluge experiential shower that massages and invigorates sore muscles
From the lounge and pool areas, you can visit the outdoor garden area where a dynamic green wall and stairs guide back to the upper level gardens connecting to the rest of the property. The pool, lounge and even the fitness room, focus out to this green wall and light filled outdoor space. This sunken garden brings light down into the lower level spaces and provides a calming view of nature.
We are finding that people are becoming more invested in their sense of personal health and well being. They are taking proactive measures by asking us to design their home and integrating wellness into their lives for them and generations to come.
We are finding that we are getting a lot of response from residential clients who have visited our spas, hotels and resorts and have had such a memorable experience that they’re asking us to design a spa inspired home for them. They are investing in their personal sustainability by integrating wellness into their own daily lives and creating home sanctuaries.
Healthy Home – Part I
We recently completed a home spa on the upper West Side of Manhattan for a client interested in creating a master bedroom suite in a healthy, nurturing environment. Since she has asthma and allergies, we designed a 5’x 5’ experiential shower and steam room with a bench where she could sit and relax while inhaling curative steam. An experiential shower allows her to control multiple water jets from a rainwater shower head at the ceiling, and body sprays along each side.
She also loves taking baths, so we integrated a steeping tub within the plan that allows her to soak up to her shoulders in water infused with restorative minerals and sea salts. She can recline and relax aching muscles within that deeper tub or pep up the water with invigorating eucalyptus or pine infusions. This bathing area opens up to the master bedroom with wrap around views to the city beyond.
As part of her master bedroom, we incorporated a very large library and reading area connecting to an outdoor deck and terrace. We surrounded her with what she loves- books and art that nurture her mind and soul. We have motorized shades and sheers that provide a complete blackout to ensure a good night’s sleep. About one in three New Yorkers have sleep issues so, we carefully orchestrated her bedroom to provide the utmost in sleep hygiene eliminating even small LED “on” lights, even alarm clock lighting was diffused ensuring a higher quality of life.
In our next blog, we will discuss another design project that emphasizes the benefits of integrating health and wellness elements into a home.
Are you incorporating elements in your home to increase your health and wellness?
In our last blog we asked, “Can wellness design improve healing?” The conclusion was yes, indeed it can, and we discussed a few points that promote a more healing environment. Now I’d like to further discuss some of the technical and scientific aspects that support achieving a higher quality of life through wellness design.
Light, in particular natural daylight; noise control or acoustics; and air quality all contribute to a higher quality of patient care, staff satisfaction and the wellness experience.
The average American can spend a year of his life looking for lost items. Clutter creates both a psychological and physiological effect occupying physical space and clogging the mind. Spaces we design are relatively free of spatial clutter and confusing circulation. People generally say that they feel serene, more comfortable, and better able to focus in spaces we have designed.
Organized environments contribute to relaxation which contributes positively to the overall guest experience. Consider how first time guests arrive at a new large hotel where they need a GPS system in order to find their way around its endless corridors or to the hidden elevators. I think we have all experienced that frustration. Spatial organization provides psychological comfort, taking away the anxiety brought about by getting lost and losing your way, and reinforcing a more positive and enjoyable experience.
One can only imagine the time one spends lost in complicated buildings where the design didn’t focus on clear guest circulation. The same holds true for design. An overstimulated environment can create discomfort and stress. Our design approach reinforces the canon from Mies van der Rohe, that “Less is More.” Our work focuses on spatial organization and decluttering design.
We design our projects around a spatial concept, often as a result of some of the inherent qualities of the specific site. For instance, with the Littman residence, our overall goal was to take advantage of the abundant light in the space, and link it to the rooftop garden. To achieve this, we worked with a simple design concept and idea of “entry, path + goal.” From the entry, we created a linear path leading to a sculptural stair that led to the client’s rooftop sculpture garden. This axis also delineated public spaces to the left and private spaces to the right. The plan was one of clarity versus complexity, and this clear sense of circulation and spatial organization not only brought ease to visitors, but became a calm sanctuary for our client.
Another example would be our current project, a 16,000 square foot integrated health facility. Here, the objective was to create a very clear patient path into the building. From the parking lot, patients are welcomed under a canopied entryway, and visually directed to the front desk.
Once at the reception desk, they view the “healing garden” beyond, a central two-story space with clerestory windows creating a relaxed natural environment, which acts as a social condenser. In private cabanas within the healing garden, clients meet for the first time with a life coach, to help determine which areas in their lives they would like to focus on. From there, the client may branch off into any number of options; go to a changing room, a clinical room or a fitness area. These spaces are linked to simplify the patient experience. An uncomplicated circulation path allows patients to feel more comfortable, moving through the medical process and procedures with ease.
Spatial organization and uncluttered design provide for a higher quality of life, allowing one to enjoy a more calm and balanced journey.
In terms of creating spa spaces, the key is differentiating from a client’s current conditions and surroundings. We want to create an environment that is conducive to a more relaxed experience that is reinforced throughout the whole spa treatment. What we do is try to change the whole physiognomy or the context of the space so that an individual can basically check their working or stressed life at the door and then transition to an experience or space that is just much more supportive of a relaxed, regenerative kind of mood. The rooms that we create are very different, incorporating as many of the senses as possible; an integration of serenity and calm.
One of the things that is instantly important is to change the light level. In the hallway to the treatment area or rooms, or within your own home, we will drop the light level dramatically, helping the senses to become less stimulated. We create a focal point, at the end of the hall, that might be a water element or fire element, attracting you, bringing you down the hallway to the treatment space.
We make things simple and reduce clutter so as to calm the mind and body. In the changing room a whole ritual takes place. Clients change into a robe and slippers, again creating this transition from their stressed out working life into a more relaxed condition. In the treatment room we provide a place for someone to sit down; a therapist can offer the client tea. With some of our projects, we offer a warm towel to cleanse their face and hands or a bowl of water where they can soak their feet and receive a foot massage. It’s amazing how people instantly respond to that.
Creating the tranquil space is really creating a psychological shift within the environment from where the client is coming from to where they are going. We mentioned adjusting the light levels, we integrate aromatherapy with calming music and eliminate distractions. Sometimes people prefer diffused light, other times they want a complete blackout and complete silence. It’s about tailoring and creating a room that provides flexibility and allows personalization. It fosters a “cocooning” environment, in which one feels safe, secure and relaxed.