Designing a Safe Space for an Autistic Child

by Jacqueline Salgado, edited by Kelsey Betancourt

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Designing a calm environment for children with autism can seem like a daunting task. While every child is different and may react differently to certain environments, there are five key design points to consider in order to successfully achieve a calm and structured space. 

Layout

Consider the scale of the space. What do you want to integrate in the room? One way to successfully choose what you want to include in the room is knowing your child’s needs, and paying close attention to how your child responds to an environment. How do you want your child to navigate through the space? Start the layout by placing the furniture on the sides of the room and leaving the middle open to navigate. This layout is not only simple, but easy for the child to move around the room. When placing the furniture on the sides, the child is able to easily access things he/she needs within the room, fostering independence.

Often children with autism are more comfortable in rooms with clear divisions. Consider subdividing rooms and allowing for reconfiguration. Plan easy storage for items so they can be cleared away easily when not in use.

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Noise
Noise is another aspect of designing a room that is often forgotten about but is essential when designing a space for a person with autism. Children with autism are sensitive to loud noises, and sometimes cannot filter them out. This may cause anxiety, affecting the way the child behaves on a daily basis. There are simple ways to prevent background noise from filtering in. Start by pinpointing what background noises you can easily hear from the room that may cause discomfort to your child.

Keep the background noise out by integrating small fixes. Try applying acoustic panels to your walls. This not only brings down the noise, but it can be used as a discrete and functional decorative element. 

If the first option is not something that would be convenient, another way to bring the noise down would be to replace any hardwood flooring with carpet. Not only is carpet recommended for children with autism because it reduces the chance of your child getting hurt and prevents lighting glare, but also because carpet keeps noise from echoing throughout the room. 

If damping the noise is not possible, try adding pink noise. Similar to white noise, pink noise may improve memory and be better at gently drowning out disturbances. 

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Lighting
Lighting can have a strong effect on someone’s mood. Just as we can be affected by specific lighting, children with autism are often hyper sensitive, therefore specific lighting should be considered when integrating fixtures. One thing to stay away from is fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting is known to flicker and depending on the wattage and lamp type, can be extremely bright. The flickering is not only distracting, but it is known to cause eye strain, headaches, and migraines. Opt for a fixture with diffused lighting or a fixture with adjustable settings in a neutral, unsaturated color. Being able to dim the light can make a difference for someone’s mood. 

Color
Choosing the right color for the room is an essential step. Choose light, neutral colors. Just as bright lights can affect the mood of the child in a negative way, certain colors can have similar effects. Colors to stay away from are anything bold or dark. Although primary colors tend to be the norm when choosing room colors for children, it is not the case when choosing a room color for a child with autism. Bold colors are allowed in small accents, such as their toys. 

In addition, wallpapers with busy patterns or stripes can be distracting for your child. Be especially careful to choose a paint that is non-toxic and does not off-gas, to keep your child safe. Try pale blues, soft greens, light purples, and pale pinks for room color options. 

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Privacy
Research has shown the benefits of a sensory room (or space) for kids with autism. These spaces allow children to feel safe. There are certain things that can be integrated into a sensory room in order for the child to feel better. As stated previously, layouts are important. If it is not possible to dedicate an entire room, a corner of a room can be reserved specifically to be the “sensory room", which can be done by separating the space with a dark curtain. The idea is to make a place the child can feel comfortable and stress free. Items such as a bean bag, or a sensory pea pod sold online can help a child feel comfortable and safe.

With these simple ideas in mind, your home can be a safe place for both you and your autistic loved one. 

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Photos by Chas Metivier, Steven Dewall

Undertaking a broad range of projects, all of which are grounded in smart design and mindful of healthy living, Sarah Barnard’s diverse body of work includes upscale private residences, chic restaurants, luxurious spas and impressive corporate headquarters. Her projects have been featured in local and national publications, and have placed prominently in several noted design competitions. Sarah holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Claremont Graduate University as well as undergraduate degrees in Art and Interior Architectural Design. Her interior design practice is the culmination of education and interests in art, architecture, textiles and the environment and she has written several articles for important publications including the USGBC, United States Green Building Council.

Sarah is intrigued by clients who have unusual requests and lives for a challenge. She hasn’t met one yet that she didn’t like. Sarah loves designing for anyone with pets! She adores people who are avid collectors of anything they love. Sarah is often retained by clients who have never worked with an interior designer because they thought designers weren’t for them (until now). She is known for delivering, on time, all the time. Sarah is incredibly down to earth and people love her for her frankness. Sarah and her staff will do just about anything for a client, build a custom sunroom for the kitties, organize and alphabetize boxes in the garage, take the kids out shopping for their own bathroom tiles…

Barnard is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), is certified by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), and is recognized by the International WELL Building Institute as a WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP), the International Institute for Bau-Biologie & Ecology as a Building Biology Practitioner (BBP) and by the United States Green Building Council as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP). She has served on the Santa Monica Conservancy's board of directors and specializes in sustainable interior design, health and wellness and historic preservation. 

Award Winning Los Angeles Interior Designer Achieves WELL Accreditation

Interior designer and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP), Sarah Barnard of Sarah Barnard Design has recently achieved recognition from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) as a WELL® Accredited Professional. The WELL Building Standard® is the premier standard for buildings, interior spaces and communities seeking to implement, validate and measure features that support and advance human health and wellness.

WELL was developed by integrating scientific and medical research on environmental health, behavioral factors, health outcomes and demographic risk factors that affect health with leading practices in building design and management. WELL Certification and the WELL AP credentialing program are third-party administered through IWBI’s collaboration with Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), which also administers LEED certification, the global green building program, and the LEED professional credentialing program. This relationship assures that WELL works seamlessly with LEED.

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Established in 2003, and LEED accredited since 2007, Sarah Barnard Design is well known for creating healthy, artful spaces that are respectful of history and deeply connected to nature.  Notable projects include; National Geographic Entertainment, National Immigration Law Center, Heritage Square Museum, backstage retreats at the Academy of Country Music Awards and Teen Choice Awards as well as countless private residences.

Barnard was recently recognized as an American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) National Ones to Watch Scholar, was featured in the July 2017 Issue of Metropolis Magazine and is scheduled to guest lecture at the 2018 ASID National Student Summit, SCALE in Los Angeles, CA. 

For more information about Sarah Barnard please visit www.sarahbarnard.com 

For more information about WELL https://www.wellcertified.com/en 

Remodeling Your Kitchen to Last Forever

BY MELINDA CARDENAS

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As many people move towards preparing their own meals, and as open-plan homes are being embraced as natural and healthy, the modern kitchen is more important than ever. A kitchen must provide high quality performance and functionality in order to cater to your specific needs and to add to the value of your home. Many homeowners know a kitchen remodel would benefit their lifestyle, but do not want to commit to the expense and disruption of a remodel. The best way to approach a kitchen-remodeling project is to create a plan that focuses on your family’s specific needs in order to balance form and function, and make your kitchen the ideal space for cooking and entertaining, while being comfortable for everyone.

It is best to start by establishing what areas in the kitchen are used the most. Take into consideration how many people might use it at once, and if there are children involved, make sure your kitchen accommodates their safety. Typically it is best to have the main functions of the kitchen–your stove, sink, and fridge–no more than six feet apart from each other. This will help create a working triangle that benefits you by allowing easy maneuvering throughout the space. Identify areas that need extra storage for food, snacks, or dishes for display. Some particular functions require more space than others.

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It is also important to make your kitchen a space that you cannot only use, but enjoy. Make a list of what is important to you, and consult a designer if you can. She or he will help you decide what is realistic, possible and practical for your home, and determine what areas are the areas as focal points in the room. If you love to have people around while you are cooking, add seating at the counter. If there are many people who use the kitchen together, consider implementing various food preparation areas. By considering using universal design methods, such as lower countertops, two-tiered kitchen islands, and under counter storage for food and appliances, homeowners and guests are able to access all areas of the kitchen with ease. 

Often overlooked, lighting is hugely important to a kitchen. Determine what lighting options are best suitable for different kitchen zones. Interior designers can be especially useful in this area, and will help define what lighting would be best for tasks and overall aesthetic value for the different spaces in your kitchen. Under cabinet lighting is a great technique to use for displaying a favorite kitchen item or to easily find kitchen products. Recessed lighting and pendant lights can help create an even ambient light throughout the space.  

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Finally, when redesigning a kitchen, there should be a focus on making it a beautiful and pleasing place to be, as well as providing functionality. If the kitchen is connected to the dining room or living areas, consider how it can relate visually to people entering the space. There should be a visual connection from the kitchen between its connecting rooms. If the kitchen has barriers from other rooms, consider opening up those areas so that rooms can connect visually and practically. Finally, consider storing appliances to look like they belong in the kitchen without standing out. This can be accomplished through using panel-ready appliances or incorporating under counter microwaves or oven drawers to create extra counter space in a kitchen island. 

A kitchen remodel should work with the needs of the homeowners in a way that creates a space that can be used by everyone. In addition, a kitchen should support the needs of your entire family’s lifestyle and still be a place of beauty and comfort. By implementing smart technology and planning ahead, a kitchen can save time and energy. By focusing on functionality and durability, your kitchen can be a space that can be enjoyed by everyone for years to come.   

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Sarah Barnard is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), is certified by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), and is recognized by the International WELL Building Institute as a WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP), the International Institute for Bau-Biologie & Ecology as a Building Biology Practitioner (BBP) and by the United States Green Building Council as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP). She has served on the Santa Monica Conservancy's board of directors and specializes in sustainable interior design, health and wellness and historic preservation.

Undertaking a broad range of projects, all of which are grounded in smart design and mindful of healthy living, Sarah’s diverse body of work includes upscale private residences, chic restaurants, luxurious spas and impressive corporate headquarters. Her projects have been featured in local and national publications, and have placed prominently in several noted design competitions. Sarah holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Claremont Graduate University as well as undergraduate degrees in Art and Interior Architectural Design. Her interior design practice is the culmination of education and interests in art, architecture, textiles and the environment and she has written several articles for important publications including the USGBC, United States Green Building Council.

Barnard is currently working on interior design projects in the Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Brentwood, Los Feliz, Hancock Park & Palos Verdes Estates. Other recent projects include the corporate offices of National Geographic Entertainment in Beverly Hills, the headquarters of Life Rolls On, a subsidiary of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation in Culver City, a Backstage Celebrity Eco-Lounge for both the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Teen Choice Awards and a Sustainable Penthouse on Ocean Avenue for an out of town couple with super meditative space requirements. Think total relaxation and harmony with the universe.

Photos by Chas Metivier, Scott Van Dyke, Brad Nichol

3 Simple Steps to Create a Bathroom That Will Stand the Test of Time

By Melinda Cardenas

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Although bathrooms can be small spaces, they are substantial investments in your home. Bathrooms should provide not only functionality, but beauty and comfort for both homeowners and guests. An ideal bathroom design incorporates functionality, comfort, and beauty, regardless of age or mobility.  

1. Planing Ahead

  • Prioritize the space: When remodeling a bathroom, remember to establish what areas are best suitable for specific tasks. Plumbing, outlets, and ventilation are all key elements to a high-functioning bathroom. Consider adding outlets for hairstyling products, or adding ventilation close to the shower. However large or small your bathroom may be, it is still important to address which areas are most used, how, and by whom.
  • Smart storage: Bathroom designers should consider the specific needs and storage requirements of you and your guests to ensure the bathroom to feel spacious and organized. For example, the area next to where you apply makeup or shave may need hidden drawers or a built in cabinet. Children’s bathrooms may require space for bath toys or step stools.
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2. Safety and Comfort for Everyone 

  • Use easily accessible strategies: Barrier free showers, slip-resistant flooring, and lever-style door handles are safe and simple. Planning ahead to make bathrooms comfortable and accessible may also help save money in the long-run. You can have comfort by knowing that these implementations will last, and there is no need to remodel again. 
  • Consult an expert: Interior design professionals can help implement universal design methods into any bathroom space. They can plan for accessibility, the environmentally conscious, and help you implement a classic style that will not need to be replaced again in a few years.
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3. Luxurious Experience and Materials  

  • Use a variety of lighting: Lighting is a crucial component of good bathroom design, and can help improve the human experience. Task lighting should be in places used for applying make-up or in other preparation areas. Ambient lighting can create a soft look and pleasant feel to the space. 
  • Choose the right materials: When choosing colors and materials for the bathroom, select options that are durable and easy to clean to save yourself time and headache later on. Also consider timeless materials and avoiding fads so that the bathroom’s beauty can endure. 

It may seem like a daunting task, but your bathroom can be a serene and healthy space with careful planing, consideration for safety and accessibility, and the right materials. Start with a clear vision and be mindful of health, sustainability, and timeless style to make the most out of your bathroom. 

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Sarah Barnard is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), is certified by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), and is recognized by the International WELL Building Institute as a WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP), the International Institute for Bau-Biologie & Ecology as a Building Biology Practitioner (BBP) and by the United States Green Building Council as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP). She has served on the Santa Monica Conservancy's board of directors and specializes in sustainable interior design, health and wellness and historic preservation.

Undertaking a broad range of projects, all of which are grounded in smart design and mindful of healthy living, Sarah’s diverse body of work includes upscale private residences, chic restaurants, luxurious spas and impressive corporate headquarters. Her projects have been featured in local and national publications, and have placed prominently in several noted design competitions. Sarah holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Claremont Graduate University as well as undergraduate degrees in Art and Interior Architectural Design. Her interior design practice is the culmination of education and interests in art, architecture, textiles and the environment and she has written several articles for important publications including the USGBC, United States Green Building Council.

Barnard is currently working on interior design projects in the Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Brentwood, Los Feliz, Hancock Park & Palos Verdes Estates. Other recent projects include the corporate offices of National Geographic Entertainment in Beverly Hills, the headquarters of Life Rolls On, a subsidiary of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation in Culver City, a Backstage Celebrity Eco-Lounge for both the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Teen Choice Awards and a Sustainable Penthouse on Ocean Avenue for an out of town couple with super meditative space requirements. Think total relaxation and harmony with the universe.

Photos by Chas Metivier

Designer Crush: Sarah Barnard

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Designer Crush: Sarah Barnard

By Michelle Konstantinovsky on 12/26/17 at 12:07 am

Upscale private residences, chic restaurants, luxurious spas, and corporate headquarters: all are fair game to Los Angeles designer Sarah Barnard. With specialties in sustainable interior design, health and wellness, and historic preservation, Barnard brings a passion and dedication to her projects uniquely grounded in innovation. Barnard is currently working on interior design projects in the Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Brentwood, Los Feliz, Hancock Park & Palos Verdes Estates. Learn more about the designer in our Q&A below. 

1. How did you get your start in the design industry?

As a native Angeleno, I spent much of my childhood living in historic homes, which sparked an affection for all things aged and beautiful. Later I studied art, interior architecture and sustainable design in undergraduate school, expanding my work with materials, form and space in graduate school, creating sculpture and environmental installations. It made sense that I found a niche in sustainable, healthy design, especially in California. One of my earliest projects was in a penthouse on Ocean Ave, which focused on preserving the beautiful ocean view and using reclaimed materials and natural textiles.

2. Your designs are “mindful of healthy living” - what does that mean to you?

Our mental, physical, and emotional health are deeply and immediately impacted by our surroundings. A visual connection with the outdoors can improve mood and productivity, and what we bring into a home or space (finishes, furniture, artwork) determines both the quality of the air we breathe and how we function in our daily lives. With that in mind, I give careful consideration to my clients' unique personalities, lifestyle needs, and long term goals in order to craft customized spaces that contribute to their overall health and happiness.

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3. What’s your process for getting to know a client?

No matter my clients future plans, I love to see where and how they’re living now. Observing their current possessions, collections and lifestyle—then having the opportunity to chat about what they love, what they don’t, and why is an excellent first step in getting to know each other.

4. How do you define “California style”?

California style is natural, luxurious, and comfortable. It is approachable, enduring, and connected to the landscape: mountains, valleys, sea, desert and the shore. Like the people here, it is often kind to animals, nurturing of artists, the earth and each other.

5. Where do you draw inspiration from?

My garden! I spend a lot of my free time there. The colors and textures that come with each season are delightful and inspiring. I grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, (carrots, radishes, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers of all kinds, cantaloupe, lemons limes, avocado, lettuces & herbs) as well as cactus, succulents and flowering/ornamental plants. Some of my favorites are Abutilon, Brugmansia and Camellia.

6. What’s your favorite travel destination and why?

Most of my traveling involves art, architecture and eating. Milan for the Salone del Mobile and saffron risotto. Paris for Maison et Objet and sampling potatoes at Chez Dumonet or my most recent trip to Victoria, Canada for the American Society of Interior Designers Platform retreat exploring sustainability, wellness, technology and lots of delicious local, farm-to-table cuisine.

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7. Favorite musical album or artist of all time and why?

I am a forever fan of female singer songwriters. My favorites right now are Stevie Nicks, Ingrid Michaelson, Sarah Harmer, Corinne Bailey Rae, because they simultaneously independent, strong and feminine.

8. If you could design the set of any movie, which would it be and why?

The Other Boleyn Girl—they used gorgeous locations across the UK, and had brilliant sets with lush textiles and fine details everywhere. The set and costuming contribute so much to the feeling of period films like that, so color and material is important. Not to mention that I would’ve loved to meet a cast with two smart and talented female leads, Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. I would love to work on a project with either of them. They were both so enchanting in that movie!

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Lightning round!

9. Chuck Taylors or Christian Louboutins?

Christian Louboutins.

10. Oreos or Chips Ahoy?

Oreos, although I occasionally eat the Newman's Organic variety and pretend they’re not that bad...

11. Sand or snow?

Sand, every time.

12. Karaoke queen or dance machine?

Dance machine!