Mixing Wellness with Interior Design

Homes that heal? It’s true. Taking a cue from hospital and office trends, the team at Vertical Interior Design, in Elgin, is helping homeowners to create a holistically designed, comforting home environment – something that’s very welcomed these days.

Windows and pops of color in the sunroom, as well as bright, well-organized closet spaces, can have a surprising impact on our emotions, as seen in this example by VID Lifestyle.

Your home is a refuge, an escape from the world and the stresses of daily life. Shouldn’t it be a place of calm and serenity, especially in these chaotic times?

According to research by the Association for Psychological Science, home interiors can have a serious impact on our emotions and our overall well-being. And if you ask Colleen Baader, senior vice president with Vertical Interior Design, in Elgin, she can share plenty of real-world examples where the right design has made all the difference.

For years, Vertical Interior Design and its sister company, Rieke Office Interiors, have been transforming offices and other commercial spaces into inspiring environments that encourage our best emotions. Now, the Vertical Interior Design team is extending those same principles into the home with VID Lifestyle, a division focused entirely on residential settings.

The full-service design firm can handle anything from simple interior makeovers to complex renovations, all tightly focused around each client’s lifestyles and building a place that emphasizes one’s wellness. Services include simple things like furniture, accessories and color selections all the way to more complex renovation projects.

VID Lifestyle’s goal is creating an environment that nourishes your body and mind to allow you to accomplish your life’s goals, says Baader. Designers accomplish this with a holistic design approach.

“It’s not just providing decorations or selecting furnishings,” she adds. “We want our design team to discuss how your home is your sanctuary, and we can provide a design to reflect that.”

What exactly is wellness-centered design? The concept focuses itself around three main aspects: lighting, color and organization.

Lighting changes the mood of a room just as it changes the perceived size of a room. The type of lighting is an important factor in interior design. It must work with the color selections, room size, availability of natural light and furniture selection.

Natural lighting, and lots of it, helps to bring the outdoors in – and the outdoors play a major role in providing a calming environment, says Baader. By contrast, harsh overhead lights and utilitarian fixtures present an emotional drag. Simply updating the right fixture or adjusting the nature of your lighting can have a major impact.

“Lighting is like the jewelry of the house,” says Baader. “It’s a way to reflect the homeowner’s style with unique fixtures.”

Color choices similarly impact the way a room looks and feels. Designers turn to distinct color palettes when preparing a room for calmness, energy, creativity and more.

“Let’s say someone wants a more energized home,” says Baader. “We would not select a neutral color palette for their home. This client needs a palette with colors to energize the space. A great designer designs to provide the emotion the client wants to feel in the space.”

Organization is also an important aspect of designing. It’s not just a messy room that creates a sense of clutter. Even a clean room that has a jumble of styles and colors can overwhelm our emotions, says Baader. Wellness designers look for ways to create unity in a room while also taming messiness.

VID Lifestyle’s sister company, Rieke Office Interiors, has long been known for its work with creatively designed custom office solutions. Not limited just to the office anymore, these creatively inspired systems can also help homeowners gain control over their clutter, whether it’s a garage, closet or other space.

Still, there are sometimes exceptions, because each client’s personality is different.

“We want to go in and interview every client and figure out your goals and dreams,” says Baader. “If someone functions well in disorganization then I’m not going to focus on organizing. I’ll find other ways to help you achieve wellness.”

The concept of wellness design may seem new for homes, but it’s nothing new for Baader and her team. They’ve spent years setting just the right mood in offices, hospitals and other commercial environments. In fact, it was an aversion to the traditional all-white hospital that drove a movement toward wellness design in the 2000s. As designers made hospitals feel more hotel-like, with an emphasis on cozy materials and calming colors, doctors began to notice a positive change in the healing process, says Baader.

“If you go into a hospital lobby now, you’ll see they have these grand staircases and stone walls, all sorts of things to bring this calm to an otherwise anxious building,” Baader adds. “It was all focused around how you can help people to calm down, relax and heal.”

Over the past decade or so, the concept has taken on new forms in commercial spaces and offices, where you’ll now see wide-open rooms, abundant natural light, vibrant colors and warm textures. The idea is to break out of the boring gray cubicle and create an environment where people naturally feel engaged and at ease.

“The term ‘resimercial’ was created in the past couple of years because offices now have more of a residential feeling, with areas for lounge furniture, coffee nooks and warm, inviting finishes,” says Baader. “Now, we’re bringing the same concept into your home.”

Bringing wellness-centered design into the home begins with a simple question: What’s your goal in life?
How you answer this question tells designers a lot about your lifestyle.

“Let’s say you want to travel the world, and you want a place to display the art you’ve collected because art brings you a sense of peace,” says Baader. “Or, if you’re into music, then we can help create a location where your music fits in. So, what brings you peace and wellness we bring into your home and help you attain that through design.”

The process begins with a conversation and a walk-through of the client’s home. Designers use the time to build a relationship with the client while also understanding the home’s current aesthetic. Most designers are keen on keeping a common theme across the home, because it’s generally more pleasing to the mind.

“What I think our designers are great at is listening to their clients,” says Baader. “Once you feel comfortable with your interior designer, you’ll find you’re walking them all over the house and saying, ‘I want to do this, and I want to do this.’ So, our goal is to look at a project and start those critical conversations. Just like you might ask, ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ we like to ask, ‘Where do you see your home in five years?’”

The question is especially relevant in children’s rooms and baby nurseries that can adapt with a growing child. A warm, tan wall paint creates a neutral base for pops of color – pastel purple in the area rug, a matching tone in the wall art and a complementary tone, like green, in the window treatments.

A cozy master bedroom mixes warm gray walls with colorful, yet subdued, pops of color in the bed spread and curtains. A bronze lamp fixture and a wood dresser, complete with bronze hardware, lend a mid-century vibe.
In living rooms, dining rooms, bathrooms, outdoors spaces, closets – even garages – the possibilities are endless.

“My favorite Zen place in my home is my sunroom,” says Baader. “It has many windows that provide a lot of natural light, and it’s a peaceful place to read or have coffee with a friend.”

Bringing nature into homes through windows, lighting, greenery and color have a nourishing effect on the body and mind, she adds.

“What I hear so much lately is that the mental health of our society right now is very fragile, and one way to get through it is to improve your home and the environment you’re in,” says Baader. “Creating an environment of peacefulness can help your mental state, whether it’s creating organization in a closet, creating a man cave-worthy garage, or backyard oasis. Whatever it is, this will really help them get through these crazy COVID times.”