How to Design Your Home for Conscious Living

by Grace Carter

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Living consciously means embracing what you love. It’s living in alignment with personal values and making choices accordingly. As philanthropist and former first lady, Michelle Obama said, “I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values – and follow my own moral compass – then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.” However you express it individually, it’s what you appreciate and brings you joy. Being aware of what nourishes you, be it animal kindness and/or human welfare, awareness can offer you a clear path toward designing your home more consciously.

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Our values are as unique as each of us. It’s obvious in our daily lives that our taste in food, color, and careers vary, but more subtly, our ethics are just as diverse. Whether you prioritize being healthy, sustaining our planet, and/or equality for all, living consciously is well within reach.

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Wherever you are on this journey, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. If you’re just beginning, consider making future purchases aware ones. If you’re buying a pillow or rug, find one from a cruelty-free source or a craftsperson who is conscious of their impact on the planet. If you’re ready to embark on a deeper level of commitment, assess an entire room or your whole house. If that seems daunting, hire a designer who aligns with your values to make substantial changes to transform your home into a sanctuary. An experienced designer will work to express what lights your imagination on fire. A designer takes the stress off your plate so you can focus on the beauty and big picture while they take care of the minutia. They can help push your bravery into the lime light, so your house can be what you envisioned.

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Conscious living requires little to no sacrifice. For example, being vegan does not mean trading in personal luxury. You can bring quality and opulence into your home while honoring the welfare of the person fabricating your sofa. By making informed decisions, we can improve conditions of workers of Vietnam, and help a single mother supply artisan hand-crafted goods to anyone in the world, while supporting her children financially and emotionally. However, with such freedom and availability, we also have information overload. In design, it takes knowledge and experience to create a harmonious space that matches your preferences. Look for designers and craftsmen who specialize in handcrafted goods, or sustainable products. Since there are so many options, it helps to have a skillful designer evaluate the myriad of choices and to verify legitimate sources.

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As you design your life intentionally, you convey to those around you what you love, which then draws more of what you want into your life. Being intentional in your choices will be reflected in all areas of your life. “You are your choices,” according to German philosopher Sartre. Generously expressing personal truth brings abundance to your life. A home that resonates with positivity brings more vitality to the physical body, and uplifts family and friends. When a home is designed deliberately, it works symbiotically to achieve goals and allows energy to flow into projects with passion. For those who are clear about what brings them joy, their spaces radiate it.

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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.