Why a Custom Weighted Blanket may be the Secret to Your Best Sleep Ever

Photo: Steven Dewall

Photo: Steven Dewall

Weighted blankets were the must-have holiday gift of 2018. You couldn't scroll through Instagram without being bombarded with ads for these sensory aids. But weighted blankets aren't exactly new, in fact, interior designer Sarah Barnard has been creating custom versions for years.

As a child, she came across a roll of peacock blue mohair fabric in her family's garage that she used to complete a patchwork quilt she was sewing. Little did she know that her father intended to use the luxurious fabric as the upholstery for a 1949 Chevrolet he was restoring.

Although her father was furious, she was ultimately allowed to keep the blanket, which weighed close to 20 pounds. “I found the tremendous weight and enveloping warmth encouraged my body to sleep more peacefully and longer,” explains Barnard.

Photos: Scott Van Dyke

Photos: Scott Van Dyke

These days, she's still creating custom bedding for her clients using designer textiles and stitching techniques taught to her by her father. This expertise allows Barnard to deliver better-designed weighted blankets with endless customization options in terms of fullness and weight.

A custom design allows the client to choose the fabric, thread color, stitching style and interlining material. Barnard's team of trusted artisans, hand crafts each blanket locally and sustainably. Recently, Barnard designed a biophilic master bedroom suite for a couple who prefer blankets in different weights. Her solution? One large duvet cover with two blanket inserts tucked inside, providing a seamless look that caters to individual needs.

Photo: Chas Metivier

Photo: Chas Metivier

One of Barnard's clients explained that she had been having trouble sleeping for some time and tried sleep aids, teas, and melatonin. She never felt fully rested using these remedies, but when used together with a customized weighted blanket, she experienced notable improvement.

Photo: Charlie Daniels

Photo: Charlie Daniels

Children especially may benefit from the use of a weighted blanket. A study from 2011 published in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry found that children with ADHD fell asleep faster and awoke fewer times during the night when covered with a weighted blanket. Barnard enjoys designing colorful, custom blankets for the children of her clients. "Involving the child in the selection of the textiles allows them to personalize their environment and surround themselves with things that comfort them the most," she notes.

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Barnard's weighted blanket, which she made herself, is fabricated of two heavyweight Schumacher fabrics sewn together sans lining. Even without a traditional interlining, it weighs in at 13 pounds. When the blanket is not in use, it adds contrast and texture to the room — quite unlike the characterless models one can purchase online.


The textiles Barnard used were prewashed and preshrunk to remove any allergens or dust. She chooses to wash her weighted blanket regularly in the washing machine despite the fabric's dry clean only warning. "I accept a rough and tumbled appearance in trade for the ease of maintaining my everyday life," she says. Barnard points out that this is a common request among her clients. "Families want to be able to launder their weighted blankets, so we test each sample to see how it survives the washing machine," she adds.

As mass-produced weighted blankets have risen in popularity, their quality has suffered immensely. Most ready-made options are filled with plastic poly pellets or glass beads. Custom made blankets are most often filled with organic cotton interlining or organic cotton batting in varying lofts to reach the desired weight. Organic wool and organic hemp interlinings are also available. For homeowners who desire organic textiles and a natural lifestyle, being able to identify where the materials come from, and how they are made help us to sleep easier at night.

A wellness-minded interior designer can help create a custom weighted blanket that suits your health needs and personal style to ensure an even better night’s sleep.


Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art. With a contemporary approach that employs traditional vocabulary, Barnard’s range of style is innovative yet time-honored. The ideas most essential to her practice and design process are wellness, historic preservation, and the infinite ways in which design can enhance life.

The Power of Wellness Design

Interior Design: Sarah Barnard, Artwork: Renae Barnard + Ruben Vincent, Photo: Steven Dewall

Interior Design: Sarah Barnard, Artwork: Renae Barnard + Ruben Vincent, Photo: Steven Dewall

Wellness is not a buzzy topic, but is sure seems like it this year. Forbes declared 2019 the year of the wellness revolution, Vogue called it the new luxury status symbol, and Fast Company highlighted the industry’s $4.2 trillion valuation.

Earlier this summer, Sarah Barnard Design attended a panel discussion on Design x Wellness at the Helms Bakery District. The event was held in conjunction with the LA Design Festival and was moderated by California Interiors Editor-in-Chief Kelly Phillips Badal.

Three panelists, all from various design backgrounds, contributed to the lively back-and-forth, which centered around “achieving a healthy and organized life.” There were a number of takeaways to be gleaned from the discussion, including how organizational systems can combat stress and how proper lighting can improve sleep quality.

The panelists had only 45 minutes to discuss the topic, but a lot more could be said about the wellness movement as it relates to interior design. A holistic approach to wellness design goes much deeper than organizing and lighting. There are a multitude of things to consider — the paint on the walls, the upholstery of a chair, the artwork on display. “It’s the interconnectivity between all the different elements that makes the space healthy and well,” offers Principal Designer, Sarah Barnard.

Interior Design: Sarah Barnard, Artwork: Karrie Ross, Brian Johnson, Renae Barnard, Photo: Chas Metivier

Interior Design: Sarah Barnard, Artwork: Karrie Ross, Brian Johnson, Renae Barnard, Photo: Chas Metivier

Skilled interior designers leverage their knowledge of sustainable, non-toxic materials and finishes to craft healthy, personalized spaces for their clients. “For chemically sensitive clients and clients who value organic interiors, most often furnishings and artworks are handmade for them,” says Barnard.

A recent project for a highly-educated, well-traveled client featured the use of bespoke antique reproductions. “It gives us control over the materials, natural finishes, the scale, and it allows us to support the local economy,” says Barnard. Every detail was carefully considered, from the organic linen draperies to the custom designed floor sofa and the handmade, FSC-certified walnut dining table. “These are things a client would never find on their own because they are not sold in stores, and they just can’t be had otherwise.”

Interior Design: Sarah Barnard, Artwork: Milly Ristvedt, Renae Barnard, Abby Sin, Photos: Steven Dewall

Interior Design: Sarah Barnard, Artwork: Milly Ristvedt, Renae Barnard, Abby Sin, Photos: Steven Dewall

For the owners of an oceanfront penthouse, Barnard customized not only the furnishings, but all of the materials and finishes. “In this home, everything is healthy, natural and unadulterated,” notes Barnard. “We used natural waxes instead of stains and sealers, natural latex foams, organic cotton batting, and organic wool batting that was spun from sheep that are only shorn in summer.”

The clients selected the colors of the natural fibers artist Renae Barnard used to create a hand-woven sculpture for their home office. Crafted from wire, sash cord, cotton clothesline, wool, yarn, fleece and linen, it’s a truly one-of-a-kind piece that doesn’t compromise the chemical-free integrity of the home. “It’s very much of them, for them,” says Barnard.

Art, in particular, contributes to our overall sense of well-being. “It stimulates your mind in the same way as the natural world,” adds Barnard. One study from the University of London found that viewing art produces the same effect in the brain as falling in love, causing a rush of dopamine, a.k.a. the “feel-good hormone.” Another from Drexel University revealed that making and viewing art can lower cortisol levels, the hormone linked to the body's stress response. “When we can provide views of nature, that’s the first choice. But in any instance where we have a blank wall and not a window, then the next best thing to have is art. It makes us happier,” explains Barnard.

Wellness is often touted as a trend by lifestyle magazines and social media influencers, but for Barnard, it’s the ethos of her interior design practice. “Our clients know better and they choose healthy,” she says. Organic textiles, sustainable materials, non-toxic finishes, inspiring artwork, bespoke furniture made by local craftspeople — all of these elements support our mental and physical well-being. And designers with robust knowledge of healthy home design have the power to change lives for the better.

Sarah Barnard, WELL AP + LEED AP designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art. The ideas most essential to her practice and design process are wellness, historic preservation, and the infinite ways in which design can enhance life.

Barnard has been featured in publications internationally and was named a “Ones to Watch Scholar” by the American Society of Interior Designers. In 2018 Locale Magazine named Barnard “Los Angeles’ Favorite Interior Designer”. Barnard holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Claremont Graduate University as well as undergraduate degrees in Art and Interior Architectural Design.

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


Meet the Bedroom that Feels Like a Hug

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Award-winning Interior Designer and American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Ones to Watch Scholar Sarah Barnard has unveiled a happiness-inducing residential design project in Beverly Hills, California — the bedroom that feels like a hug.

“We need a safe, restorative space to help our bodies rest and recharge,” says Barnard. A hug has many of the same characteristics, it makes us feel secure and comforted, and when we let go of the embrace, there’s a rush of oxytocin that leaves us with a sense of lightness.

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Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that acts on the brain’s emotional center, promoting feelings of contentment, reducing anxiety and stress. When you hug often, your level of oxytocin increases, which strengthens social bonds. Hugging also stimulates dopamine and serotonin production in the body. Dopamine is a pleasure hormone that’s part of the brain’s reward mechanism, while serotonin is responsible for maintaining mood balance.

The jumping-off point for the bedroom was the curvilinear bed frame, an award-winning design by Autoban, carved from American black walnut. Its silhouette mimics the action of hugging, and the interior is lined with purple velvet, blending the natural texture with dark, feminine styling. To further the feeling of intimacy, Barnard chose a non-toxic, king-size organic coconut mattress topped with a reversible duvet in a custom, color-blocking scheme.

The word ‘phantasmagoria’ is scrawled across the wall behind the bed — a neon homage to the images that flicker by in our dreams. The client, a self-proclaimed bookworm, chose the word herself after much deliberation. High-pile black carpeting delivers a softness underfoot, and layered window treatments allow the client to sleep undisturbed in total darkness. “Window coverings serve many purposes,” says Barnard. “Not only do they block out sunlight and create privacy, but they add a decorative element to the room that unifies the composition.”

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The two-tone wall color, a marriage of plum and lavender, envelops the space. These hues were intentionally chosen to saturate the formerly bright bedroom, establishing a cozy, cocoon-like atmosphere. “The ceiling color extends to the walls, linking the two colors together in a way that the sharp ceiling line never could,” explains Barnard.

Hanging above the bespoke American Walnut nightstands are a pair of cloud-like pendant lights that emit a soft glow. A wall of concealed storage eliminates visual clutter, which can heighten our anxiety levels and impact sleep quality. Upholstered benches at the foot of the bed and by the entryway provide a comfortable spot to rest or dress in the morning.

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It was the client who initially requested the space “feel like a hug,” which Barnard describes as a “brilliant explanation of what good bedroom design should do.” The revamped master bedroom, a physical embodiment of a hug, provides all the comfort, safety, and well-being her client needs to settle into a restful slumber and wake up feeling warm and fuzzy.

See the rest of this home here Featured in LA Dreams Magazine

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 www.SarahBarnard.com.

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 www.SarahBarnard.com.

Photos by Chas Metivier

Park View Pied-à-Terre: Living Room & Dining Area


Perched high above Virginia Avenue Park in Santa Monica, a contemporary townhouse waited patiently for the right buyer to come along and commission a design overhaul. When Renimah Al-Mattar purchased the property as a secondary residence, she hired interior designer and LEED AP, Sarah Barnard to help her plan a comprehensive remodel that would salvage much of the existing architecture and materials while reworking the space with natural, handmade and local materials. 

Salvaged barn wood, vintage light fixtures, and area rugs, antiques and locally made reproductions exist among contemporary artwork and a custom sofa with organic materials in this living room.


While merging traditional and contemporary aesthetics, the renovated spaces honor Renimah's environmental concerns, while balancing French Country stylings with both rustic and minimalist tendencies- a design approach that represents the complexities of Renimah's tastes and interests.

Both comfortable and contemporary, this living room is perfect for entertaining and features pieces from Renimah's collection of art. A solid bronze sculpture is perched on a coffee table specially selected to support its massive weight.  With plenty of seating for guests, the vintage-inspired sofa was made locally of natural and sustainable materials. A pair of vintage French lamps (c.1970) flank the abstract painting by artist Emily Van Horn.


The apartment’s open floor plan allows for a pleasant flow between the kitchen, dining and living areas. This dining set was custom designed to fit perfectly within this area. Custom walnut chairs are made by hand and outfitted with white leather for a fresh and timeless aesthetic. A solid walnut dining table was custom made from a single fallen tree. The contemporary recycled rock crystal chandelier adds functional beauty to the dining area.

After the completion of the project, Renimah said, “I have always believed that your home must be your zen temple and my home gives me a feeling of peace. I love coming home to this creation and am very grateful.”


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

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Photos by Chas Metivier

Park View Pied-à-Terre: Attic Guest Bedroom


This Park View Pied-à-terre is perfect for entertaining guests in the city. Formerly an unused space within the home, the tiny attic was converted into a cozy and comfortable guest suite. This eco-friendly space utilizes the existing architecture and was designed by salvaging and restoring much of the home's original materials, such as the natural wood flooring. A built in walnut platform bed and bespoke floor sofa are low profile and maximize the space. An antique iron doorstop rests on the carved mango wood coffee table. Artwork by Karrie Ross and an adjustable swing arm wall sconce frame the sleeping nook.

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

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Photos by Chas Metivier

Ocean Avenue Penthouse: Contemporary Kitchen Style

Maple cabinets and natural granite pair with stainless steel hardware in this Ocean Avenue penthouse kitchen. The light maple cabinetry maintains a spacious, airy feeling in the petite modern kitchen. Matching barstools turn a kitchen cut-out into the perfect breakfast nook. The adjacent custom built-in desk provides a tidy corner for paying bills or reading recipes on the web.

Natural wood, rattan and stone accessories make this modern kitchen lively and fun. Cable system track lighting illuminates the natural stone counters and floors. The architectural cut-out around the stove beautifully integrates the kitchen with the rest of the space allowing for more natural light.

The kitchen seamlessly flows into the adjacent dining area where a custom table of chrome and maple sets against a wall of mirrors. Tillandsia plants make a perfect centerpiece for beachfront dining. This modern kitchen design fully utilizes the compact space while preserving an open and integrated feeling with the rest of the penthouse.

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

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Photos by Brad Nicol

Ocean Avenue Penthouse: Contemporary Master Bedroom


The calming blue views of the ocean and sky were the inspiration for this Ocean Avenue master bedroom retreat. By outfitting with eco-friendly finishes in leather, rattan, maple, and wool, the biophilic impact of every detail was considered to optimize health and well-being.

Matching low-profile bedside tables in dark walnut topped with orchids and the homeowner's favorite books flank the master bed. The accompanying wall mounted swing arm lamps are perfect for reading. The custom commissioned artwork is reminiscent of an underwater world and adds peaceful minimalism and balance as a design element.


A custom wall-hung console tucks away electronics and compliments the deep wood bed frame. Antique stone pottery and a dollop of moss are the perfect home to this indoor bromeliad; touches of nature are everywhere throughout this environmentally conscious design. Pottery and other artisan elements were handmade by local craftspeople and paired with indigenous plant life.

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

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Photos by Brad Nicol

Ocean Avenue Penthouse: Contemporary Living Room


An Ocean Avenue penthouse with a bird's eye view of Santa Monica's coastline is outfitted with eco-friendly furnishings, natural textiles and organic rugs to create a perfect Zen retreat. White fabric poufs provide extra seating for guests and are low enough to preserve the ocean view. A natural driftwood sculpture compliments a collection of organic objects as the centerpiece to this biophilic design.

Fine art can become a unique design element within a room. This one of a kind artwork fashioned from hand-thrown clay disks explicitly created for the living room captures the calming energy of the ocean air. The installation's delicate minimalism and organic formations add dimension and complement the room's natural textures.


Sustainably sourced organic textiles and fabrics adorn this custom sectional with natural latex cushions, a perfect companion to the organic wool rug and toss blanket. A modern white metal side table with a fun organic shape adds interest.

This modern design preserves the expansive coastline view while utilizing a wall of mirrors to extend the entertaining area visually. The integrated dining area features a custom table of chrome and maple perfectly sized for this compact space.


A collection of eco-friendly materials, organic textiles, and vintage accoutrements make this Ocean Avenue penthouse the ultimate beach retreat. The delicate chandelier made up of tiny light bulbs, and wire reminds us of stars strung together in the sky. Tillandsia plants make a perfect centerpiece for beachfront dining. 

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

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Photos by Brad Nicol



Above: White fabric poufs provide extra seating for guests and are low enough to preserve the ocean view (Photo by Brad Nicol); Below: LA based interior designer Sarah Barnard (Photo by Erik Hyler)


The Queen of Space


Incredible space requires the knowledge and capabilities of an incredible interior designer. But in the creative and innovative hub that is Los Angeles, there is no shortage of gifted specialists.

Starting in December, we set out on a mission: Uncover an interior design professional that is on the forefront of the industry, yet capable of producing the elements of superiority, class, and professionalism required by our readers.

Enter eco-chic interior designer Sarah Barnard. Recognized by the International Institute for Bau-Biologie & Ecology as a Building Biology Practitioner and by the United States Green Building Council as a LEED Accredited Professional, to name a few, Sarah brings a great degree of eco-friendly cognizance to each of her projects.


Above: Cotton velvet draperies in a saturated burgundy tone connect with the tiny berries in the woodland wall upholstery; Below: Better Times Peonies brighten a display of the homeowner's favorite things (Photos by Steven Dewall)


Q: How would you describe your design style?

SB: Each of my design projects is as unique as each of my clients. The foundation of a successful project is getting to know my clients well, including their personal interests and lifestyle choices as well as what colors and styles most appeal to them.

I take a contemporary approach to create a timeless look, keeping it fresh and sophisticated. I prefer details that have a personal meaning for the client: a motif that reflects a favorite place; an antique with family history; a special collection; or a child’s artwork.

One area I specialize in is healthy, sustainable design. I have exceptional resources that offer appealing natural furnishings and fabrics, energy-efficient fixtures, and organic and non-toxic materials to support a healthy lifestyle. 

Another area I specialize in is historic preservation.

I enjoy giving classic styles a fresh face while preserving their vintage charm.

Overall, designing a home for a client is deeply personal. It requires establishing an essential level of trust, which I ensure through ongoing and open communications.

Q: Your mantra is: “Where smart design, sustainable choices and healthy living converge.” What do you mean by “smart design”?

SB: Smart design is design that’s healthy, beautiful, functional and enduring. I design homes to my client’s desires, lifestyle, and special needs.

Q: What are some options that homeowners have when considering sustainable choices?

SB: Stunning tiles, counter tops and even beautiful textiles are being designed out of creatively re-purposed materials. There are more energy-efficient light fixtures and avenues that bring more natural light into a home than ever before. Using local artisans to manufacture custom-made cabinetry and furniture is a responsible choice that homeowners can trust to deliver unique items of exceptional quality.


Q: Is there a favorite room you have designed or project you have completed?

SB: I am always up for a challenge and love it when clients bring me unusual requests; whether it’s designing a display room for a special mineral collection or crafting a custom kitchen into the perfect functional space. I also love designing for children and pets!

A passion of mine is designing both historic properties and modern architectural spaces. I always strive to bring harmony, balance and a connection to nature to the space.

Q: What design trends are you most excited about in 2017?

SB: There are three major themes and trends that I am excited about: Handmade furnishing items from natural materials, made by artists, not factories. Collecting! There has never been a better time to support the arts and start or expand a collection of paintings, sculptures and/or pottery. Customizable textiles printed by local artisans - personalization has never been easier!

Q: What do you recommend as first steps to those who may be unfamiliar with smart design and sustainable choices?

SB: Start small. Sometimes just a few simple changes can have an enormous impact on the health of your home or work environment. If you aren’t ready to redesign your entire home, I often recommend starting with the master bedroom since this is where we spend a good portion of our time. This room above all others needs to feel restorative and calming.

Also, consult only with experienced designers. Professionals like myself can recommend smart, sustainable choices and create a wonderful experience you will never forget! ◆


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

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Houzz Pro Spotlight: How to Design a Healthy, Happy Home

Who: Sarah Barnard

Where: Santa Monica, California

In her own words: “The more informed we are and the better choices we make, the cleaner and healthier our homes can be.”

When furnishing your space, it is essential to consider how your choices will affect your family. “We need to create high-functioning, natural and nontoxic environments that endure over time,” interior designer Sarah Barnard says. The principal at Sarah Barnard Design in Santa Monica, she believes in “optimizing the health and happiness of the people within a home.”


Passion for the arts. Barnard studied interior architecture and fine art before starting her own company. “I’ve always been interested in history, architecture and the environment,” she says. “They all inform my practice.” She also enjoys the fashion aspect: “We are always influenced by trends like new colors, patterns, and fibers. Design is a balance of old and new.”


A green philosophy. Barnard, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited professional, believes sustainable design is no longer a specialty area. “I wouldn’t be taking good care of my clients if I designed spaces any other way,” she says. In addition to her usual clients, Barnard does pro bono design work for nonprofits so they too can enjoy healthy, natural spaces.

Read Barnard’s tips below to create a home that benefits the mind, body, and soul.


1. Utilize Universal Design

Barnard recommends designing a home that will endure all of your family’s life stages. “Strategize early in the design phase,” she says. “When you get older, or someone faces a disability, the last thing you want to do is tear apart your home.”

One way to incorporate universal design is to use a wall-hung cabinet in your bathroom, such as the one Barnard installed in this Pacific Palisades home. It provides not only a clean aesthetic but also ample toe space for maneuvering in a wheelchair. She also added plentiful overhead, undercabinet and wall-sconce lighting. “People can adjust the lighting to suit their needs,” she says.

See more of this project


2. Choose Eco-Friendly Materials

Natural and organic textiles can improve indoor air quality. “Most home products have been tested, but not in conjunction with other items,” Barnard says. “Combining products that each release a small amount of toxic vapor creates a polluted environment.” Alternatively, she recommends using pieces that are at least 20 years old, as they’ve long since finished off-gassing.

Barnard sourced eco-friendly materials, such as natural latex cushions and an organic wool rug, to create this healthy oasis for Santa Monica clients. “The coffee table was solid lumber finished with natural linseed oil; no toxic adhesives were used,” she says.

See more of this project


3. Reinvent What You Have

You don’t necessarily have to expand your home to achieve your desired layout. “You can modernize and increase comfort without adding on by rearranging what you have,” Barnard says.

West Hollywood clients wanted more space but didn’t want to modify the structure of their 1918 Craftsman bungalow. “We moved interior walls to increase functionality,” Barnard says. She stole a bit of space from one bathroom to make another one more substantial and used space from the coat closet to make room for a shower in the shrunken bathroom.

See more of this project

More: For more information on Sarah Barnard and examples of her work, visit Sarah Barnard Design’s Houzz profile.

This story was written by the Houzz Sponsored Content team.

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

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

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 www.SarahBarnard.com.