Designing a Healthy Home

With Kitchen Designer Sylvie Meehan

Eating healthy, exercising more and focusing on self-care are three of the most popular goals that people struggle with. And there are hundreds of guides and books on tailoring your habits, managing your time and eating well. But did you know that your house itself can influence your habits and well-being? In fact, your home – its layout, its energy, its sensory elements – can create real hurdles between you and your ambitions.

The good news is that there are simple ways to modify your home so that it’s a boon to your ambitions rather than a hurdle. We spoke with designer Sylvie Meehan to get her expert insights into healthy home design and what it means for the average homeowner.

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Photo courtesy of Sylvie Meehan

A Sauna-style Bathroom

The bathroom is where you set yourself up for a successful day, and it’s where you wind down for a restful evening. But how can you improve this space to improve your life?

Filter your water: You’ll really notice the effects of a whole-house water filter in the shower or tub. It will remove chemicals that would otherwise strip your hair and skin of necessary natural oils.

Photo courtesy of Sylvie Meehan

Improve your ventilation: Bathrooms can breed bacteria if they aren’t properly ventilated, which can affect your lungs and stimulate allergies. “Good ventilation prevents mold,” Meehan says. “Leave the toxic air outside and remove the toxic air from inside.”

Install a steam shower: “A steam shower with aromatherapy will help to relax the mind and body after a hard day at work,” Meehan says. Steam showers help with congestion, reduce stress, clear your pores and relieve muscles after exercise.

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Photo courtesy of Sylvie Meehan

A Stress-less Kitchen

It’s no surprise that roadblocks in your kitchen can influence your lifestyle. So, what changes could make it conducive to good habits and cooking at home?

Start with the refrigerator: “More refrigerator space with different compartments allows for different temperatures and humidity levels to keep ingredients longer,” Meehan says. If you can keep your groceries fresh, you’ll be able to count on them for the meals you’ve planned. If the storage in your fridge doesn’t cut it, you can upgrade to an appliance that is more efficient.

Straighten up cabinets and drawers: Clutter makes for an inaccessible and frustrating kitchen. “A well-organized kitchen will save you time,” Meehan says. “And you’ll want to cook and eat there more often.” Get organized with partitions and shelves, or install specialized drawers that facilitate order. If you’re overwhelmed, consider hiring an organizer.

Photo courtesy of Sylvie Meehan

Trade up to a steam oven: Meehan is a big proponent of steam ovens in place of microwaves and regular ovens. “Replacing the microwave with a steam oven is a healthier form of cooking,” she says.

Perfect your lighting: Poor lighting is detrimental to cooking and gathering in the kitchen. “Good lighting will make it easier to prepare food, be easier on the eyes and make for easier cleanup,” Meehan says.

Small, Mighty Updates:

  • Indoor herb garden
  • Recycling and composting station
  • Good ventilation

“The kitchen should encourage activities that reunite family and friends to create nice memories.” – Sylvie Meehan

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A Holistic House

There are lots of ways to inspire the lifestyle you want in other rooms and spaces. Once you make these changes, you’ll wonder how you ever lived otherwise.

Keep bedrooms tech-free: “Bedrooms should be a space to sleep,” Meehan advises. “No electronics. No phone, television, tablet or laptop.” She also suggests keeping the room as dark and quiet as possible. “It will help you sleep better and let your body heal itself.”

Capitalize on natural light: Outside of the bedroom, make the most of natural light and minimize artificial light. “Lots of windows will bring natural light in,” Meehan says. And they‘ll connect you with nature from indoors.

Meehan's designated space for yoga and meditation. Photo courtesy of Sylvie Meehan.

Add or designate recreational space: Once you create an area where you can relax, exercise or unwind with a book, you’ll feel the benefits right away. Meehan finds this space in her backyard. “I have a pond in the back of my house where I can relax, meditate and do yoga,” she says. You can either transform an existing space into your ideal area or consider building an addition.

Do you recognize any of these hurdles around your house? Make the changes that will mean the most to you and craft a home that will facilitate the lifestyle you’ve been aspiring for. For a little help, consider hiring a health-minded designer like Meehan. “Design and healthy living are two of my passions,” she says. “I love making my client happy and helping them to get a healthy, functional and fabulous home.”

Meet the Designer

Sylvie Meehan of Sylvie Meehan Designs

Sylvie Meehan is a master of kitchen and bathroom design, new home design and remodeling. She started her business, Sylvie Meehan Designs of Fort Worth, Texas, more than 15 years ago. And she sees the need for healthier design on a regular basis.

“People are so stressed physically, emotionally and intellectually,” Meehan has observed. “A healthy home should provide a person with more energy, make them happier and reduce the amount of stress. It should encourage a healthier lifestyle for our bodies, our minds and our planet.”

She helps her clients remove the barriers in their designs and make simple adjustments for happier, more active and less stressful lives at home.

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