Design for a Healthy Mind: Interior Design and Mental Health

Custom Wall Sconces  designed by sarah barnard

Custom Wall Sconces designed by sarah barnard

It seems that every week, a new article is out asking what is the source of our mental health troubles. Depending who you ask, demanding work schedules or an over-stimulating world could be the culprits. It’s all too often not one thing, but a combination of factors that leave us feeling sensitive, low, or unmotivated. At the center of new conversations emerging on mental health is the effect of our environment on our wellbeing. Taking the care to consider our home spaces is an important step in seeing how our familiar surroundings impact us. From small adjustments to a total overhaul, the home can transform from a source of stress or isolation to a sanctuary for calm and comfort.

An exercise: pay attention to how you feel as you move about your space from room to room. Where do you spend your time? How do you react looking and living through your space? From the height of the ceilings to the presence of plants, subtle but pervasive factors can improve mood, focus, and alleviate anxiety. Humans intuitively respond to environments that promote productivity, intimacy, and efficiency.


This isn’t a recent development: the practice of Feng Shui, for instance, has a history going back thousands of years. At this point, it is likely you’ll need to consult a compassionate interior designer to help guide the daunting task of creating your ideal, holistic home. They can assist from the smallest details to a total transformation of the space and how you live in it. “You’re never alone in the process,” designer Sarah Barnard says. “Having a second pair of seasoned eyes can bring our attention to the affect our homes and their layouts have on us and our visitors.”

The effects our homes have on us are largely defined by how we use and live within them. Architecture theorist Kate Wagner claims that most of our homes are too separated by function; most of our time is not spent in designated hosting spaces, such as a front room, but in the kitchen and the den. “Large, unused spaces designed for social functions foster isolation instead,” she explains. These isolated areas end up becoming pile-ups for unwanted furniture, or inaccessible simply because they’re too formally separated.


Likewise, small, constricting spaces inhibit creativity and discourage freedom of movement. Laying in a darkened room in the comfort of a bed is difficult for anyone to get out of, even when the sun is shining.

Wagner makes an empathic suggestion to “channel [your] earlier self,” outside of the expectations of space and presentation that comes with creating your home in adulthood. In this project by interior designer Sarah Barnard, natural light and free movement is prioritized. Walls do not constrict, but are left open and accommodating.


Much of what compresses a space isn’t tight walls and low ceilings, but its furniture. A clear and open home is a natural reflection of a clear and open mind. Prioritizing objects of beauty, function, and meaning within your house can be reflected in the popular Konmari Method, or “the life changing magic of tidying up”. Its founder, Marie Kondo, takes inspiration from Feng Shui to ensure that organization and tidiness are a permanent life change, not a cycle for us to endure every few months. She believes that every object in our home brings us joy, and that each object has a specific place where it belongs within in our home. The method suggests we ask ourselves simple questions when we encounter an object we can’t bear to part with: “Does this bring me joy?”

Cherished furniture shouldn’t be thrown away for the sake of self-renewal. In fact, they can be essential to giving a room its individuality. Older furniture pieces that you’ve had for years can be given new life when reinterpreted within the space.

During a revision of a Scandifornian style home, Sarah had the opportunity to place older furniture into a bright, updated, and minimalist aesthetic. A treasured antique dining set, found in Thailand, remained in the dining room; its deep rosewood and impeccable design and detailing brings warm elegance in the new space. The dining set has a new life, and the new rooms feel familiar and fully livable.


Maybe you’ve decided to really start from the ground up: new furniture, fixtures, the works. Avoid the stress that can come from heavy-duty furniture pieces that forbid reorganization and movement. They aren’t active in the home, and an imposing weight or size can compress a room while taking away the opportunity for revitalization and customization.

Consider modern, playful furniture that is light and accessible to move, promoting autonomy in your environment to reorganize as you wish. As an experienced interior designer, Sarah has a deep understanding of the principles of Universal Design, which encourages flexibility, simplicity, and low demands of physical labor throughout the home. This is achieved through seven principles: the designed object or space must be equitable, flexible, intuitive and easy to navigate, stimulate as many sense as possible, safe and tolerant of error, physically undemanding, and with adequate space for free use. When a sensitive and informed designer adheres to these principles, their projects have the benefit of being widely applicable to a variety of needs: from every day appliance use to wide ease of access throughout a home. It makes your home more intuitive.


To make the most of your new space, have systems in place that facilitate organization, tidying, and reward. Cleaning can have therapeutic, empowering effects on the psyche. The areas around us reflect the care we have for ourselves. Interior designers carefully choose pieces or can work with skilled artisans to build furniture to suit your needs, from the perfect chair to expansive organizational racks that can transform the use of a room. Also, this can be where your creativity and distinct personal inspirations shine; a pair of homeowners wanted a cabinet that resembled a type of Japanese locker, getabako. The cabinets were numbered in a sequence that was significant to the husband and wife, culminating in a piece that was unique, functional, and intimately designed. In using the locker, the homeowners would feel comfort and satisfaction at its place in the home.

A cluttered environment has been proven to drain energy and negatively impact our overall mood and self-image.  In bringing in new furniture, we want to bring in new systems of living and using it. Wall-based organization is a great way to free up space on the floor. Light, free-standing shelves in this home office provide ample space for books and objects of meaning and beauty. The floor is freed up for movement and active use. All furniture here, fitting for a home office, has a cohesive design and an obvious function, encouraging productivity and serenity.


Echoing the exercise of moving through the home, think of the importance of free and open movement: everything we encounter can be a treasure rather than an obstacle. The importance of possessions is knowing and fully appreciating their use and place in our home. Our home is a space for us to respect, personalize, and flourish with and within.

Just as promoting mental health and clarity through interior design goes back thousands of years, color therapy (also known as chromotherapy or color medicine) is as old as any other medicine, with a history going back centuries. There’s research that points to spectrums of colors even affecting different parts of the body! It’s physical and mental effects are essential.

Does this mean you paint your whole apartment blinding shades of sunshine yellow to spur energy? Not entirely - research points to the contrary. Researchers at Logan Regional Hospital in Logan, Utah discovered that overly vibrant color schemes produce heightened states of unease and anxiety.

Splashes of your favorite color are a given within the home, but we can also look outside for inspiration. In this idyllic guest retreat, Sarah Barnard has used the natural landscape as inspiration for a cohesive palette. Even visitors to the home are invited to a room that is earthy, grounded, and familiar. The prominent presence of green in the bedroom reflects the vibrant trees growing just outside with generous sunlight.


Meanwhile, natural dark wood establishes a sense of warmth and comfort, once again using the surrounding nature as inspiration. The consideration of all senses, particularly touch, creates a holistic and familiar space. Organic textures such as stone, encaustic tile, and wood make us feel - literally - grounded in our environment.

Investing in the space of your home as a part of mental health doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Reach out to an empathic interior designer who understands the importance of the house in your health. With a rich history and vast resources, transforming with a healthy, mindful designer can have incredible effects on your day-to-day life and long-term happiness, letting your home come alive as your mirror.

By Rebecca Hac


Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit


Samina T. Yousuf Azeemi, “A Critical Analysis of Chromotherapy.” US National Library of Medicine. Retrieved at

Doheny, Katherine. “Clutter Control: Is too much ‘stuff’ draining you?” WebMD. Retrieved at

Silvis, Jennifer. “Interior Design Use in Alleviating Depression and Anxiety.” Healthcare Design. Retrieved at

“The 7 Principles of Universal Design.” Retrieved from

Wagner, Kate. “Our Homes Don’t Need Formal Spaces.” Curbed. Retrieved from

“Psychology of Home Environments: A Call for Research on Residential Space.” Association for Psychological Science. Retrieved from

Judgement-Free Interior Design: Let's Get Weird!


Home is a self-portrait of sorts. It’s a collection of who we are, where we’ve been and all the people for which we care. For most of us, our home is a safe space to reveal our style, family history, beliefs, and state of mind and can and should represent who you are in a healthy, useful and enduring way. For many, this is a daunting task. Even creative people find it challenging to craft a beautiful, functional and healthy home that adequately reflects their uniqueness.


The first step is finding a designer who you are comfortable with, who you can feel safe sharing your needs and aesthetic. It can be hard to let someone into your home to sort through the details of how you live, mainly if your style or needs are not like the cookie-cutter examples in home magazines, but ultimately, allowing an interior designer to know who you are will enable them to enhance your life and lifestyle. It also means that you’re free from the burden of planning the minute details of your own space.

When asked how to begin, interior designer Sarah Barnard explained, “The first step in my design process is always learning about the people with whom I’m working. So, start by being honest. Tell your interior designer the truth about your habits, desires, future hopes and dreams.” Barnard, a Los Angeles based interior designer with a passion for fresh and unique design, is no stranger to special requests. She has designed homes for people who have physical limitations or challenges, pet menageries, tree houses, art and antique collections, vegan kitchens, and with children with special needs, not to mention the occasional adaptive re-use projects, which repurposes an old building for a different function, like a church into a home.


Regardless of your comfort level letting a designer take the reins, it is crucial to bring your situation–including all your challenges, whether that means your grandmother’s China with a questionable aesthetic or a mobility issue that requires a re-design. Asked her about finding and building a feeling of trust with your design team, Barnard said, “In my experience, people often have anxiety about how their home, hobbies or lifestyle might be perceived. Our team is made up of diverse individuals, and we pride ourselves on meeting people where they are. An authentic home has the potential to be truly restorative and inspiring.”


When asked for her favorite unusual design challenge, Barnard laughed and said, “Oh, I’ve heard them all by now. My favorite requests are often incredibly personal ones. We’ve had several clients recently who practiced co-sleeping, for example, the co-mingling of parent’s and children’s bedrooms”. One couple’s oldest child did not have his own bedroom and slept on a separate bed in the homeowners’ master bedroom. Integrating this request required the melding of different needs and maintaining an elegant adult aesthetic, as well as adequate kid-friendly spaces.

Another client is expecting her first child and desired ultra-healthy materials and furniture that would be safe for her expected family. “She wanted materials safe enough her child could eat them. My team supplied her family with the healthiest and most pure materials available, even giving attention to the dye ingredients in fabrics and the finishes on wood. Ultimately she had a home that was beautiful and that she felt safe in.”


Worry of being perceived as messy can also hold a person back from contacting a designer. It often comes down to a lack of storage options, but for some, it can be a cathartic process to let go of the excess clutter. A significant step as the design process begins is to take stock of what items are most important: what things are no longer useful to you, and what items bring you joy? Getting rid of excess items and furniture can be an enjoyable process and will make room for you to figure out what is precious and meaningful.

For many, part of embracing their unique identity may mean collecting, restoring or displaying treasured items. That should be no surprise–there’s an entire art-form dedicated to this idea: kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with 24 karat gold. The idea is that instead of throwing away something broken, it can be made whole again, and its scars are proof of its history. It’s past and age are reminders that there’s beauty in experience and what is finite.


Items with some wear and tear show their history, their usefulness, and your love for them as a badge of honor. Allowing them to retain their imperfections is a way of embracing your own. It can be especially meaningful to hold onto the items that you found while traveling or that you were gifted.

Embracing an appreciation for flawed beauty allows you to hone in on the crucial items and create a natural, healthy space. Removing clutter yet holding onto and restoring imperfect, meaningful pieces is a delicate line to walk, but it can bring authenticity and personality to your home.


There are so many unique situations that can be improved by custom, robust design. In some cases that situation may be health or physical limitations, in which case ergonomics may be a reason to ask a designer for help. They can apply universal design principles to ensure your home is comfortable for you and your family. “I’ve had several clients with special requests. One client, aside from being over six feet tall, had multiple knee surgeries that made it difficult to get in and out of chairs. My team researched and commissioned furniture with custom seat heights and dimensions to make it easier for him to get up and down.”

“It’s not all unusual requests. Sometimes the client needs something super personal that they feel unsure how to handle themselves.” Barnard described a pair of clients who were married and in their late 60s, living with one of their mothers, in her late 80s. “They wanted her close by so they could look after her, but then she also wanted her independence. The solution was creating a separate wing in their home; we essentially created a suite inside their home that included a master bedroom, sitting room, and bathroom, but it was all closed off by a door from the rest of the house.”


When asked how involved one needs to be in the design process Barnard said, “Every designer is different, but I let my clients be involved if they choose. Many prefer to live their lives and allow my team to handle things, but sometimes people prefer to have a more active part in the process. There’s no wrong way.” A designer who will listen to your needs and create a custom, personal space that fits your particular point of view is best.

Asked for unique requests, or something fitting the free and uninhibited side of Los Angeles, Barnard recalled, “One client who was a pilot wanted us to design a space resembling the interior of a plane. More than one client has asked us to make their home resemble the set of their favorite shows: The Crown, Game of Thrones, and Mad Men to name a few.”

Barnard added, “newlyweds are always fun to work with. They are just starting together, and they haven’t figured out how to merge their styles and possessions yet.” Couples just starting or moving to a new city can benefit from the direction of an interior designer, particularly if the couple has very different styles or collections to merge.


An enduring aesthetic and lasting materials are an indicator of a good interior designer. Barnard explained, “Lately I’ve encountered clients asking for ‘bulletproof’ furniture and finishes. I think this comes from a few places. There are so many furniture lines available to the general public now who make (basically) disposable furniture, and so often clients expect that furniture isn’t made to last. Furthermore, people don’t want to sacrifice luxury just because they have children or pets. I find it worthwhile to take the time to explain that pieces with quality materials and craftsmanship will last virtually forever with proper care.” Learning proper adequate care is a perk of working with a qualified designer. Even a carefree man cave can integrate coasters with a favorite sports team to protect finishes on furniture.


It’s important to remember that homes featured in books and magazines are chosen for their mass appeal. Your home can be a testament to your unique hobbies, interests, and passions. Your home should enhance your lifestyle and express your uniqueness. “Form truly follows function. My work is centered on health and happiness. If there is anything we can do to help our clients live better, we will do it.”

No matter who you are—collector, vegan, expectant mother, newlywed, artist, a person with special needs, pet owner—your lifestyle can be enhanced by good design. An interior designer can help you choose the essential pieces you own to feature, plan for your growing family, art collection or future health, and design the perfect enduring and custom space for your unique style and situation.

by Kelsey Betancourt


Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit

Photos by Abigail Siniscal, Brad Nicol, Steven Dewall, Chas Metivier

California Minimalism: Scandifornian Style in Santa Monica, CA


When a government executive from the east coast decided to retire, she knew it was time to finally make her home in Santa Monica into the perfect restorative retreat. From a lifetime of travel, she collected an eclectic and beautiful array of art and antique furniture that needed to proper placement in the home she bought in the 1990s with her now late husband. She enlisted the help of Sarah Barnard Design to redesign the home, entrusting her with the task of blending the unique and personal pieces of the collection with a healthy, natural and minimalist style. Inspired by the light, bright and natural aesthetic of Scandinavian design, combined with the casual, collected aesthetic of Santa Monica, California.


Sarah Barnard set out to create a home that was not only beautiful, but that would allow the owner to be comfortable indefinitely.  To achieve form and function in the kitchen, reordering the space to fit the clients’ lifestyle best proved to be the solution. An open-plan design was chosen to allow the owner to quickly cook, as well as to allow for easy entertaining of guests.

Sarah chose pale grey flat panel cabinetry to help the small space feel lighter and brighter. Matte white glass tiles were selected to add a quiet elegance to the minimal space. Once the project was complete, the homeowner gushed, “Entertaining here is much more pleasurable, as is cooking for one in my new kitchen.”


The natural French oak flooring seamlessly connects the kitchen to the dining area, enlarging the sense of space in both rooms. Open shelving just outside the kitchen keeps cookbooks close and adds a sophisticated pop of color while stainless steel appliances were selected to pair with polished chrome cabinet hardware subtly. The simplicity of the color palette, the clean, natural materials, and the streamlined design created simplicity and new ease of use.

Sarah knew that repurposing the owner's treasured pieces would be essential in the home's re-design, so the owner's antique chairs and matching rosewood table from Thailand are placed prominently, bringing warmth and history to the contemporary dining space. The Italian chandelier above it contrasts the classic style and is made of laser cut metal and glass.


In the living room, the original design included a sizeable diagonal bench that connected to the fireplace. The redesign eliminated this and other cumbersome architectural elements to create more floor space and a modern aesthetic. Sarah conceived a more straightforward hearth to feature art and items her client painstakingly collected. A serene white plaster fireplace with a Qortstone marble hearth now anchors the living room in a place where a traditional wood and stone mantle once sat.


“I had not originally contemplated changing the living room fireplace wall, but I am delighted with the sleek new look Sarah achieved,” said the owner, who was also happy to have the perfect place for her paintings finally. “This oil painting, ‘Raspberry,’ previously hung in the stairwell between the second and third floors where its exuberant shapes and brush strokes could not be fully appreciated.” The painting, by Wendy Edwards, now hangs neatly above the fireplace.


A pair of dark stained wood coffee tables, also from the owner’s collection, were carefully chosen to make entertaining easy, while the vintage rug anchors all the white space with vibrant color. The result is sophisticated minimalism throughout the living room.


Upstairs, the owner requested an expansive shower, so the master bathroom became a "wet room." Sarah planned for every eventuality in the owner's future, including her long term health and well-being using universal design principles. The result was a space free of any barriers like steps or glass shower walls.


Sarah designed the space to feel light and boundless by selecting custom cabinetry, also adding storage and architectural interest to this modern master bathroom. Plumbing fixtures by California Faucets were chosen for their pure beauty, while the countertop slabs contain small pieces of natural shell, echoing the nearby ocean. Sarah finds that an element of nature adds a touch of calmness. Above the counter, diffuse split disc wall sconces were chosen to add a soft light to the room.


Both beauty and safety are prominent in Sarah’s Scandifornian design. Beautiful and sleek hand-glazed wall tiles inspired by sterling silver accompany durable and slip-resistant porcelain mosaic tile flooring that create a functioning and timeless atmosphere. Finally, an antique Victorian chair and a giclée print by artist D.J. Hall personalizes the fresh and crisp master bathroom.


While continuing the elegant, sparse aesthetic from the first floor, the master bedroom suite fills the entire second floor of this beautiful minimal townhouse, so special attention was paid to make it simple and calm. As the owner explained, “I travel frequently, and the serenity of the space makes coming home very comforting.”


The homeowner cares about her health and her environment; she practices self-care through activities like yoga and Pilates. It was essential to her that her home be filled with natural materials. Sarah was careful as always to find organic and lasting materials that would contribute to her health and wellness. The master bedroom suite now highlights the beauty of natural objects and materials while planning for maximum comfort and use. The space features a vintage leather headboard by Duxiana, and the artwork is a framed print of a painting by Marc Chagall (c. 1957). Glass orbs were chosen to provide soft bedside light that keeps the nightstands free for books and other objects.


A second fireplace in a corner was made over in sterling silver-toned ceramic tiles, adding visual warmth. The marigold club chair beside it was made more personal with the addition of a handmade honey bee pillow embroidered by the homeowner.

Plants and flowers dot the suite, as Sarah adds plants whenever possible to create a healthy and natural environment. The unique collection mixed with healthy materials in the design of this townhouse allowed a meaningful and sophisticated style to emerge. After the completion of this redesign, the owner explained that what she loves best about her new home is “[the] serenity of the color palette and surfaces, the bold, visually arresting scale of the principal lighting fixtures, and the way the new surroundings accommodate favorite furniture pieces and decorative items.”  The newly finished home is a testament to the idea that less is more, and that health and natural design are the solutions to luxury.

by Kelsey Betancourt


Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit

Photos by Steven Dewall.

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.


Sarah Barnard Design was established in 2003 with a focus on creating spaces that are respectful of history, healthy, art-forward, and deeply connected to nature. Sarah was LEED accredited in 2007 and WELL accredited in 2017. Some of her notable projects include the National Immigration Law Center, Heritage Square Museum, National Geographic Entertainment, and numerous beautiful 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. 

Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit

For more information about WELL 

Contemporary Luxe: Children's Rooms


A pair of contemporary luxe children's rooms fit for a Manhattan Beach family home. A boy's bedroom is transformed into a 'little man's' room with the warmth of traditional design elements and cutting edge details to create a youthful, contemporary space. 

With a focus on personality and creativity, Sarah Barnard incorporated custom artwork based on conversations she had with each child. The boy's bedroom features a mural of a vintage Aston Martin inspired by the classic James Bond film 'Goldfinger.'


A little girl's bedroom is full of warmth and whimsy. The smocked pink drapery and antique painted beds are a traditional foundation while the light fixture, custom polka-dot chairs, and bubble murals create a playful harmony.


Above each girl's bed, a custom mural made from recycled art glass features imagery inspired by their favorite things. The hand-painted lettering adds a unique element of personalization distinguishing each girl's space.


Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit

Photos by Charlie Daniels

Historic West Hollywood Bungalow: Dining Room


A historic 1918 Craftsman Bungalow features a beautifully remodeled dining room with contemporary updates by Sarah Barnard Design. By utilizing and restoring pieces original to the property, Sarah preserves the home's traditional aesthetic while introducing modern elements to create something personalized and unique. The fresh blue wall color modernizes the otherwise traditional dining room complementing the deep redwoods of the vintage furniture. 

An original built-in cabinet, a collection of art objects, a vintage dining table, and a contemporary chandelier sing together in harmony. A ceramic bust by artist Deborah Cansler rests atop an original antique cabinet with plenty of display space for the homeowner's eclectic treasures. An arrangement of wild blue thistles in a ceramic vessel made by artist Nashua Alfaro creates the perfect centerpiece.

Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit

Photos by Chas Metivier

Historic West Hollywood Bungalow: Living Room

A historic 1918 Craftsman Bungalow gets a fresh face! Utilizing the original Arts & Crafts woodwork design, Sarah Barnard adds a pop of contemporary color for an updated take on this traditional style. In keeping with the classic aesthetic, Sarah treats the interior with eclectic and vintage mid-century modern furnishings.

Saturated colors and modern patterns pair perfectly with wood and brass accents. At the heart of the living room is an original brick fireplace restored to its former glory. Items collected on the homeowner’s travels make fast friends on the mantle with abstract paintings by Los Angeles based artist, Lori Dorn.

Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit

Photos by Chas Metivier

Historic West Hollywood Bungalow: Heineken Green Kitchen


This bright West Hollywood bungalow features a custom remodeled kitchen with a collection of handmade elements reflecting the homeowners love of nature and commitment to sustainable materials. Locally made cabinets, countertops made with recycled Heineken bottles, handmade ceramic backsplash tile, and cardboard pendant lamps make for a truly unique space.

This cook's kitchen has a place for everything and everything in its place! Built-in wall shelving provides extra space for storage and creates a cheerful display of dishware and other kitchen utilities.

A hard-working home office tucked away in the corner of the kitchen. Custom designed to fit the compact space perfectly, this corner nook gets plenty of natural light. A countertop made from recycled bowling alley lumber makes the utilitarian space special! Framed artwork by Gwen Samuels adds unique handmade detail atop the desk.


Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit

Photos by Chas Metivier

Harbor-Side Loft: Master Bedroom


This harbor-side loft in Marina Del Rey features a masculine master bedroom with a contemporary nautical design. The master bedroom breathes with calming deep blue walls and dark walnut furniture. The artwork by Sara Pae and rich, dark furniture complement the blue tones of the room. The wall behind the bed is papered in a hand-blocked geometric pattern and paired with drapes made of wool in a warm winter white.

Vintage and brass elements add visual interest to the contemporary maritime theme. Tom Dixon pendants frame the headboard adding a pop of gold over each nightstand. A collection of coral, driftwood, and tillandsia enliven the matching bedside tables. Strategically placed houseplants in the bedroom contribute to clean indoor air and add to the calming seaside atmosphere.

Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit

Photos by Chas Metivier

Park View Pied-à-Terre: Kitchen


A Park View Pied-à-Terre features an elegantly modern kitchen with ample counter space. The counter's tiered design creates additional bar top space for kitchen-side dining. A dramatic chandelier made of recycled rock crystal adds sparkle to the sustainable kitchen design.

Dark wood cabinets compliment the natural stone countertops and glossy backsplash tile. The extra-deep single bowl sink in an under mount, stainless steel design is both high functioning and lovely. The sleek design and minimalist elements of the kitchen work correctly with the home's integrated layout.


Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit

Photos by Chas Metivier

Biophilia + Interior Design = Healthy, Happy Homes!

Our day to day lives are often spent moving from one artificial environment to another. The familiar routine of home to car, car to work, and back leaves many unsatisfied. Over the course of the last three decades scientists have begun to investigate psychological connections between human beings and the natural world. 

The principle of Biophilia was first introduced in the 1984 book by Edward O. Wilson, which hypothesizes that humans have a deep psychological affinity for other living organisms. While scientists believe this empathy may have developed as a way for nature to protect and preserve itself, others have begun to consider how this principle might benefit people. Designers in particular have been quick to recognize the possibilities for transforming the environments we inhabit in ways that could have genuine and positive psychological effects.


Biophilic design has become a popular approach to domestic and commercial design. It employs strategies ranging from the modest to elaborate to create spaces that acknowledge and satisfy our deep-seated need for nature in our lives.

One approach to Biophilic design is the incorporation of natural elements within an artificial environment. From architectural design that capitalizes on natural light, to the simple incorporation of plants in an office environment, modest decisions can have a dramatic effect on our spaces. One study done at Washington State University by Virginia I. Lohr and Caroline H. Pearson-mims measured the stress levels in test subjects while performing a task in an office environment. When plants were present in the room, subjects displayed an increase in productivity (12% quicker reactions to their computer task) and were less stressed according to their blood pressure. More research has been conducted on the subject of human-plant interaction and how a natural element can provide real benefits to your daily life.

Other strategies take cues from natural forms to design architectural and interior spaces and furniture. From organic materials or floral patterns to entire rooms that reflect natural themes, there are endless possibilities for Biophilic design. The image above from the Cape Cod Guest Retreat project is a perfect example of incorporating vine patterned fabric and specific color palettes to create a harmonious blend between outdoor and indoor spaces. 


The Ocean Avenue Penthouse design recalls the bright sands of the shore while the splash of green of potted plants gives a sense of healthy, tranquil living. Outstretched wings offer the viewer a feeling of weightlessness and flight, and the addition of wooden furniture with their airy and open forms completes the natural beach scene. Air quality is an often overlooked but vital element of Biophilic design. The Ocean Avenue Penthouse is an example of how suggestions of air can make a space feel open and clean, while the potted plants help to provide actual clean air. Fostering a peaceful environment is the surest way to foster peace in yourself.

Biophilic design has become a popular and effective response to the innate desire of humans to live in natural harmony. When it comes to designing or remodeling your home, consider the many benefits of Biophilic design. More than just a style, it has real effects on your quality of life in your home or office.

Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit