Style & Design Editor Cindy Trimble on Good Design, an Investment for Happy and Healthy Living
In recent years, ASID (The American Society of Interior Designers) along with many other lifestyle and design research organizations have spent endless hours and dollars researching the impact of “good design” in relation to the human condition in interior spaces. Research has focused on both residential and commercial spaces. Research of commercial spaces has revealed that employers have been able to retain employees, reduce sick days and improve employee morale and well being by changing or improving certain design features in their offices. These features include lighting, acoustics, design of private and public spaces and the comfort and ergonomic design of furnishings. In residential spaces, good design relates to specific design features incorporated in homes that support the analysis of the people living in the spaces. These design features may relate to requirements from the homeowner’s age, abilities, hobbies and overall lifestyle.
So many elements need to be considered when designing a space for someone to live in. Today more than ever before, our homes need to be designed with attention to each persons or family’s specific lifestyle and needs. No two individuals or families are the same. Nor should their homes be the same. Each of us require different “creature comforts” to support our needs. Our creature comforts are what help us function better in our homes and lead to a positive or happy experience. Creature comforts can relate to any activity: sleeping, cooking, entertaining, working, doing our hobbies, etc. A happy home is a “well-designed” home that supports all aspects of the homeowner’s life.
What defines “good” design in your home? Good design is not measured by aesthetics. Aesthetics are secondary to function. How do you measure good function? Considering kitchen and bath designs; does your kitchen have a lot of lower cabinets with doors? Those are the ones where you have to get down on your knees to see what is in them and then crawl in to retrieve what you need. Then after you get what you need you are challenged to get up off the floor? For most, this is a bad design because of physical limitations. Kitchens designed for those with physical limitations, specifically the older generation have an abundance of lower cabinet drawers or pull outs and no open cabinets with shelves. Certified Kitchen and bath designers will ask enough questions and design your cabinets to fit your physical and functional needs. Another example relates to lighting: Do you have a hard time finding a good place to read with enough light to see? Again as we get older, we require more light to see. If you have to drag a lamp with a very bright bulb to your reading spot, typically leaving extension cords across the floor, then this is bad design. Having the proper lighting level for specific tasks requires thought, planning and proper placement and selection of lighting fixtures.
Strict building codes in the United States were established to set standards for stair dimensions and handrails to prevent trips and falls and promote general life safety. There are many other areas of home design to be considered to support all sorts of human limitations and needs that are not code related. The CDC has researched injuries in the home and most occur in bathrooms. Make sure your bathroom is designed with safety as a primary focus so accidents are minimized. Working with a certified designer who is trained to help you analyze your lifestyle and your needs then custom design your home is an investment well worth the time and effort to make sure your home supports a happy and healthy experience and environment for you. Good design is worth the investment.