Healing Spaces: How Designers Can Cultivate Wellness in the Built Environment

Empathy can uncover the deep needs of humans in private and public spaces. Leading practitioners in LA's a+d community gathered Friday, October 11th 2019 at the Helms Design Center for a conversation about the role of empathy in creating extraordinary experiences.

Hosted by OM and PLP SoCal, this inaugural session of OM Chats gathers leading voices in architecture, interior, and product design for a morning discussion about the ideas shaping design and wellness. Speakers include Sarah Barnard, WELL AP + LEED AP, principal of Sarah Barnard Design, Julie Smith-Clementi, AIA, IDSA, architect and product designer, and Adaeze Cadet, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C, vice president at HKS.

The discussion centered around how to design spaces and products that reflect a broader — more empathetic — understanding of the human experience in the workplace, health care spaces, educational facilities, and wherever people gather and live.

Photo by: Steven DeWall

Photo by: Steven DeWall

Transcript of Sarah Barnard’s presentation:

In my practice, as a WELL and LEED accredited interior architectural designer, I specialize in creating environments that support the occupant's mental and physical wellbeing. An empathetic approach is the foundation of my process.

As a neurodivergent person, with sensory processing differences, I know all too well that we live in a world designed for neurotypical people. Normative built environments can be extremely uncomfortable, even traumatic, for many people. For example, individuals with PTSD and folks on the Autistic spectrum may both have sensitivities to sound, light, textures, and odors. People with chronic migraines and people who are chemically sensitive might also have overlapping reactivity to fragrances, sounds, and light.

Photo by: Steven DeWall

Photo by: Steven DeWall

The reality is, most humans will have experiences during their developmental years that forever impact their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

Research indicates that traumatic experiences don't just happen to some people; they happen to most people. In the late 1990s, Kaiser Permanente conducted a study on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). They asked more than 13,000 of their members to complete a 10-question survey on traumatic childhood experiences and to report any health issues they were currently facing.

From this pool of respondents, about two-thirds had at least one ACE. 12% of the population reported an ACE score of 4 or more. An ACE score of 4+ nearly doubles the risk of heart disease and cancer and increases the risk of attempted suicide by twelve times. Understanding that the health impacts of trauma are not a "special population" issue, but a general population issue is critical to our ability to design with empathy.

Artwork: Deborah Cansler, Photo: Chas Metivier

Artwork: Deborah Cansler, Photo: Chas Metivier

No matter our circumstance, it can be challenging to share details about ourselves that may be perceived as a disability. So, while we can't always ask, we can understand that many of us may have unaddressed environmental needs.

Even neurotypical people, without exposure to trauma, can easily experience cognitive overload in intensely stimulating environments. Activities like commuting, social interactions, processing large amounts of data, being exposed to fragrances, and repetitive auditory disturbances, can impact our mental and emotional resilience in unseen ways. Because of the magnitude of stressors in public life, humans benefit in measurable ways from a restorative home environment. Restoring at home makes us stronger in the workplace and the world at large.

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

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

When designing commercial office environments for clients like National Geographic Entertainment, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation/ Life Rolls On and the National Immigration Law Center, I consider the intersections and overlap of the community members and develop strategies to accommodate the highest possible needs.

Though it is vital to remember, as we have access to an ever-growing body of research that informs our practice of designing spaces that encourage wellbeing, it is nearly impossible to soothe all humans with a single design solution. So, meeting clients where they are and creating a safe, judgment-free dialogue is the first step in designing inclusive, supportive spaces.

Interior Design: Sarah Barnard, Artwork: Jose Ramirez, Photo: Chas Metivier

Interior Design: Sarah Barnard, Artwork: Jose Ramirez, Photo: Chas Metivier

 In my experience, being mindful and empathetic to diverse sensitivities creates an opportunity to design spaces that inspire a sense of peace. Armed with the understanding that we can't expect anyone to share the details of their pain, nor ask for what they need, designers must consider the most sensitive populations, so more environments feel safe and empowering to all.

 How do we do this?

We must think about an expansion of universal design principles to include physical, mental, and emotional health. For example, we know that biophilic design can reduce physiological and psychological stress. Having a comfortable place to meditate can reduce anxiety, depression, and pain. Exposure to natural light can regulate our circadian rhythms and increase serotonin levels.

Artwork: Ruben Vincent, Photo: Steven DeWall

Artwork: Ruben Vincent, Photo: Steven DeWall

When access to nature isn't readily available, art is an excellent alternative solution. Viewing original works of art can stimulate the brain, providing an imaginative connection to the mind of the artist and a momentary transcendence into another reality. In 2011 a University of London study found that viewing art produces a similar effect in the brain as falling in love, causing a rush of pleasure producing dopamine.

Just as we consider the positive impacts of nature and art on health and wellbeing, we place equal importance on the selection of materials and how they can shift the feeling, light levels, and acoustic qualities of a space.

Interior Design: Sarah Barnard, Artwork: Kevin Moore, Photo: Ace Misiunas

Interior Design: Sarah Barnard, Artwork: Kevin Moore, Photo: Ace Misiunas

Because truly non-toxic materials are in limited supply, our studio regularly designs textiles, wallpapers, furniture, and light fixtures, working with local craftspeople to fabricate safely and responsibly.

 While we are mindful of avoiding materials with VOCs,  some non-toxic materials like linseed oil, tung oils, and even citrus-based solvents can cause distress to people who are chemically sensitive, people undergoing chemotherapy and people with COPD.

Interior Design: Sarah Barnard, Artwork: Kevin Moore, Photo: Ace Misiunas

Interior Design: Sarah Barnard, Artwork: Kevin Moore, Photo: Ace Misiunas

In 20 years of professional practice, I have learned that empathy and mindfulness are critical in creating healing, supportive environments. Contemplating design strategies that can benefit all populations, is not a trend; it's an evolution in expanding our quality of life.

 Together, we are part of a movement to be mindful, empathetic, and collaborative, supporting one another to make all built environments healing, restorative spaces.

Interior Design: Sarah Barnard, Photo: Steven DeWall

Interior Design: Sarah Barnard, Photo: Steven DeWall

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

 

Unpacking the “KonMari” trend: The personalization of ultra-home organizing

A tidy, minimalist kitchen in with open shelving to keep cookbooks close at hand.

A tidy, minimalist kitchen in with open shelving to keep cookbooks close at hand.

Before Marie Kondo, there was William Morris, a renowned 19th-century British designer who lived by this philosophy: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

Kondo has a more stringent and less personalized approach. She encourages followers of her KonMari method to grasp each item in their hands and evaluate their body’s reaction to it. If it makes you feel uplifted, put it in the keep pile. If it causes you to feel weighed down, in the donation bin it goes. But here’s the thing — there’s no one-size-fits-all organizing method. Whether you prefer a pragmatic approach à la William Morris or Kondo’s emotionally-guided decision-making process, figuring out what works for you and your lifestyle is paramount.

Floating shelves provide vertical storage in this compact home office featuring an impressive view of the Santa Monica shoreline.

Floating shelves provide vertical storage in this compact home office featuring an impressive view of the Santa Monica shoreline.

“The method of organization should support the client’s daily routine and activities,” says interior designer Sarah Barnard, who specializes in healthy, happy, personalized spaces. “What items do they use most regularly? How do they envision the space? Having a clear goal will start to inform the plan.”

Barnard provides organizing services for clients in every stage of life, from young professionals with little spare time to retirees with reduced mobility. “One of the main reasons people ask for our help is because they are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start,” explains Sarah. “Our goal is to streamline the process by setting up personalized systems that can be easily maintained.”

A tidy studio bookcase keeps favorite books close at hand. A painting by Abby Sin, sculpture, ceramics and antiques lighten and brighten the display.

A tidy studio bookcase keeps favorite books close at hand. A painting by Abby Sin, sculpture, ceramics and antiques lighten and brighten the display.

Sarah recently tackled a two-week-long organizing project for a busy family of five. Recognizing that the experience can be quite invasive, Sarah and her team went to great lengths to ensure the family felt comfortable. Shoe covers were worn to prevent anyone from tracking in allergens, and cotton gloves were required when handling any personal items.

Very possibly the best boys' bedroom ever! Newly built walls allow for custom-made American walnut bunk beds and floating desks for each boy.

Very possibly the best boys' bedroom ever! Newly built walls allow for custom-made American walnut bunk beds and floating desks for each boy.

Clearing away unnecessary clutter was the family’s aim, and Sarah’s team employed the ‘keep, toss, donate’ method to get it all done. “We sorted our client’s clothing by season, removing the winter wear and storing it in the hallway closet,” says Sarah. “Now, primary closets contain only half the amount of items, making them more spacious and easier to navigate.”

Personalized tools for staying organized! Each boy's desk includes a utility wall with a chalkboard, pin board, metal panel for magnets and wipe off board calendar.

Personalized tools for staying organized! Each boy's desk includes a utility wall with a chalkboard, pin board, metal panel for magnets and wipe off board calendar.

In addition to freeing up closet space in the home, Sarah Barnard Design took on the organizing of a child’s craft room. “The client’s youngest son had received arts and craft gifts for each holiday of his young life,” notes Sarah. “This resulted in a wonderful collection, but also a lot of bits and pieces— to the point where the craft room was largely unusable.” The team carefully combed through his many art supplies, donating lesser-used items to create space for the most cherished ones.

An articulating desk lamp adds a pop of aqua to the teen girl's study area. Oil painting by Allie Ihm.

An articulating desk lamp adds a pop of aqua to the teen girl's study area. Oil painting by Allie Ihm.

Once an organizing project is complete, Sarah’s clients have a renewed sense of self. Decluttering is a lifestyle change, but the benefits are well worth the effort. “It often inspires a newfound appreciation for their possessions and increased productivity in the space,” says Sarah.

A creative space with a custom sofa in wool felt, side tables made of natural maple and steel and a desk chair designed by Mauro Lipparini. Sculpture by Renae Barnard.

A creative space with a custom sofa in wool felt, side tables made of natural maple and steel and a desk chair designed by Mauro Lipparini. Sculpture by Renae Barnard.

Adopting a personalized approach to organizing will spark far more joy than bingeing an eight-part Netflix series and assuming your tidying habits will change through osmosis. Decluttering is hard, both physically and emotionally — it’s not something that comes naturally to most people. Seeking professional organizing help is an investment in yourself, saving you time, energy, and unnecessary stress. And hiring an expert to create customized systems that fit your lifestyle will help you stay organized in the long-term — no self-help books required.

Written by Rachel Roth

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 Steven Dewall and Chas Metivier

Beverly Hills Bibliophile: Luxury High Rise Home Design

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Nestled in a chic high-rise building, this colorful Beverly Hills suite features the owner’s impressive collection of books, art, custom furniture, installations, complete with natural and luxurious materials.

An expansive art collection lines the entryway and halls. Paintings, drawings, mixed media art, and the owner’s embroidery cover the deep blue walls. The thoughtfully curated collection includes contemporary artworks from across the globe with a focus on feminist portraiture and fiber art.

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Floor to ceiling windows on two sides of the living room reveal unobstructed views of the city outside and are framed by a dracaena specimen and a large sculpture by Renae Barnard. Custom furniture commissioned for the homeowner, who needed the seat height of her chairs and sofa to have a custom raised seat height to enhance its ease of use. Tillandsia, low-maintenance “air” plants, dot the space throughout and are reminiscent of the environment outside.

The dining area features custom wall to wall shelving, displaying the owner’s beloved collection of books, plants, and sculptures. Bright blues and purples make the airy and light space feel both grounded and vibrant. Around the dining room table, a variety of vintage office chairs and a bench seat were upholstered with the same teal linen textile, allowing guests to experience their favorite seat comfortably.

An agate-inspired grasscloth wallpaper adds a natural and organic element to the plush, achromatic office. A custom desk made in a black powder-coated steel was designed to fit the owner’s specific needs perfectly. A custom bookshelf was also chosen to keep her books close at hand while seamlessly blending with the modern desk. Pillows embroidered with Picasso illustrations add sophisticated interest to the sleek dark sofa while a fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) adds life and color to the elegant workspace.

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The master bedroom features a luxurious, award-winning, American black walnut bed frame by Autoban. The handcrafted headboard is lined with purple velvet, blending the natural texture with dark, feminine styling. A 300 thread count Egyptian cotton reversible duvet in custom color scheme adorns this California king bed (featuring an organic coconut mattress). Above, custom neon artwork reading “phantasmagoria” adds an ethereal glow. Plush black carpeting feels soft and comforting underfoot, and curtains allow the owner to sleep in total darkness. The two-tone purple walls were specially designed to draw attention to the art and to fulfill the owner’s request to have the bedroom “feel like a hug.”

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 www.SarahBarnard.com.

Beach Style Interior Book vol.1

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Amir, the owner of this house, visited California for the first time in his late 20s. "My friend lived in Los Angeles, where I was invited to visit" and this was the trigger. He fell in love with the land of California at a glance, and says he packed his bags six months later and moved to Southern California. "And since that, I never thought of going back to the East Coast where I had spent the first half of my life."

Born in Brooklyn and living on the East coast, Amir moved to Southern California in his late 20s. He found success working for a financial affiliate PennyMac. "I love living in Santa Monica - it feels like I'm on a constant vacation (well at least when I don't have to be in the office working)!"

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"This was my first home purchase and when I bought the place it was pretty chaotic. Fortunately, I was able to see that it had a lot of potential." In addition to the beautiful Santa Monica location, there is also a private parking garage for three cars, as well as ample outdoor space. "It had all of the essentials I desired." As a result, he hired interior designer Sarah Barnard to create the perfect home. "Being so near to the Pacific Ocean, it was important to us to honor the sea and bring the surrounding nature inside. Natural textiles, vintage furniture and ample plant life to encourage connection with friends, family and the outdoors."

Sarah Barnard, whose diverse body of work includes upscale private residences throughout the greater Los Angeles area says "Amir wanted his home to be handsomely appointed, masculine and enduring. My team and I gathered artisan made and antique pieces from across the globe. Pottery from Spain, lighting from Italy, a favorite arm chair from Brazil. The collected aesthetic honors and appreciates arts from many cultures."

This home is packed with all of Amir 's ideals. As a designer, Sarah provided the vision to transform the home into exactly what he wanted. "To say there is one part I love the most is difficult since I find so much of it appealing, but the master bedroom would have to be the area that likely stands out the most. Although the Marble bar is exquisite!" Amir commented with a laugh. The area formerly designated for formal dining was repurposed as a custom marble bar, maximizing the space for entertaining. 

Amir spends his time at home either hanging out with friends, or a girlfriend, or his younger brother. If the house is lovingly loved, everyday life must be more fun!

Written By: Saki Yamanouchi

Text Translation by Google

Photos By: Steven DeWall

Visit the following link to purchase on Amazon: Beach Style Interior Book Vol.1

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.

Beachy Bachelor: Masculine Interior Design, Santa Monica Style

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For this Beachy Bachelor, Sarah Barnard introduced a mid-century vintage character with a beautiful collection of modern pottery, driftwood, and vintage ceramic vases. This Santa Monica townhouse embodies the coastal California luxury lifestyle, effortlessly combining opulent materials with a relaxed beach-side setting.

A custom calacatta gold marble bar expands the living rooms entertaining space, while the natural wool rug anchors the conversation area. The floating American walnut console keeps the masculine space light. A reclaimed Elm wood side table rests atop the home's original Oak floors. Crisp, white walls accentuate the natural wood finishes throughout while allowing the minimalist stair-railing to float in space.

The masculine dining room and adjacent patio make the most of their indoor-outdoor connection with a versatile area rug specially selected to withstand the bright light and high traffic. A sculptured glass and steel chandelier reflects the natural light of the surrounding space.

Handmade roman shades attach to a custom wood enclosure for privacy and shade on the patio. A natural teak root ball fashioned into a rugged side table pairs with a weathered teak armchair and lightweight concrete pottery. Acacia wood deck tiles add a warm angular base to the cool blue patio space. Found in Georgia by Sarah, the vintage mid-century modern whale ashtray is brass and a perfect complement to the cool tones.

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The master retreat features a handmade bed of tweed by Domonique Keiffer from Venice, Italy is covered in Belgian linens and shaded by wool draperies. A bold, abstract painting by Jonathan Elder hangs above the bed. Surf-inspired artifacts and unique vintage pieces complete the look.

A vintage leather chair with its original leather patina, designed by Percival Lafer, manufactured in Brazil in 1958. Sarah worked with her longtime collaborator, artist Reid Winfrey, placing several of his surf-inspired paintings in the beachside home.

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.

Remodeling Your Kitchen to Last Forever

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As many people move towards preparing their meals, and as open-plan homes embrace nature and health, the modern kitchen is more important than ever. A kitchen must provide high-quality performance and functionality to cater to your specific needs and to add to the value of your home. Many homeowners know a remodeled kitchen 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 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 most frequently in use. 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 calculation 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 essential 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 many people 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 can 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 display a favorite kitchen item or to find kitchen products quickly. 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 connects 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 areas, consider opening up those spaces so the rooms can connect visually and practically. Finally, consider storing appliances to look like they belong in the kitchen without standing out. To accomplish this, use panel-ready appliances or incorporating under counter microwaves or oven drawers to create extra counter space in a kitchen island. 

A remodeled kitchen should work with the needs of the homeowners in a way that creates a space that can be used by everyone. Also, 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, 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

By Melinda Cardenas

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.

Interior Design for Pets

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"It's important to start with the needs of the entire family," says Los-Angeles-based interior designer and recent ASID award-winner, Sarah Barnard. "Your pets should be included in the design process from day one, because they are family members, too." Barnard is currently a mother to two furry friends, a rescue cat with half a tail and a dog that isn't happy unless she's sitting in your lap. She explained her process when she works with clients who have both standard and exotic pets.

"When I start designing a home, my goal is to make an environment that is natural, enduring, and high-functioning—for my clients, their guests, and their pets." The goal is a design that is mutually perfect for pets and humans alike. When it is planned this way from the beginning, it is more comfortable for everyone, including you.

The interactive design doesn't mean the same thing for everyone; every family has different needs. Consulting a designer can help you figure out how much extra planning is required and where to get started. Consider that where you spend your time, so does your pet. They want to be near you, so a dedicated dog room, for example, may be a lost cause.

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Next, consider your lifestyle. If you take your dog hiking, having space for to rinse and towel off before venturing further inside your house is a smart choice. Most animals, mainly if they live exclusively indoors, enjoy a perch next to a window. Aquariums or terrariums can be entertaining for them as well. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, a custom pet bed or feeding area might be a great fit in your kitchen island.

More exotic pets might require more customization. Large animals like pigs may need an indoor and outdoor space. Reptiles or birds sometimes need a large aquarium or terrarium designed into the architecture of your home. That's when it's necessary to have a designer's help. She or he will plan it out and make sure you seamlessly integrate your pet's home with yours. More importantly, a designer can help you figure out the scope of your project.

When asked about materials, Barnard said the goal is "to create high-functioning, natural and non-toxic environments that endure over time." It's best to make your home safe for everyone. Try to source organic materials as much as possible, such as untreated fabrics and furniture. Vintage pieces that are at least 20 years old have finished off-gassing, so they don't pollute the air and are safer for you and your pets.

As far as specific materials and finishes, nothing is strictly off-limits, but some require more upkeep or need to be replaced every few years. Barnard shared some insights on balancing which materials are most attractive with those that create less work for you:

It's still possible to have wallpaper, but a more durable option would be wood wainscoting.

For flooring, the best choice is often a hard surface option whenever possible. It's easier to keep clean than rugs or carpet and doesn't hold onto fur or odors. Porcelain tiles are a great option. They are elegant and easy to maintain, plus they aren't likely to stain or get scratched. Porcelain tiles are also the same color all the way through, so dents and marks will be less noticeable.

Carefully consider your fabric choices, too. Solution-dyed acrylic textiles are an excellent place to start looking because they are relatively invulnerable. They're typically resistant to stains, germs, and odors.

Some fabrics are more durable than others, but how they are used matters, too. Any materials with uneven surfaces will be more challenging to clean. Delicate fabrics are best saved for window treatments rather than upholstery. Choose shorter drapes that won't be chewed or rubbed against; long curtains may collect hair or inadvertently become a hazard. Remove fabric from reach by choosing chairs and sofas with exposed legs, which won't hold onto furs like slipcovers or upholstered legs.

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"Above all, make sure you find a designer who has a history with animals. One who has an animal family member is even better," Barnard suggested. Designers who live with pets will have a more intuitive way of designing a home that includes them. They know more about how pets act and behave then designers without them.

Barnard shared a favorite experience working with a client with pets. "She had close to 12 cats, and wanted a dedicated area where her cats could sun themselves, but was concerned about coyotes in the area. We decided to build a custom screened porch to make a safe space for them. We had cat doors installed, too, so they could come and go as they pleased."

Sometimes making an appropriate environment for a large group of animals is the solution, sometimes the answer is cat-ifying or dog-ifying the whole house. Every home is different, but with the right help, you don't have to sacrifice beauty to live with your beloved pets. When all is said and done, our animal friends are worth a little extra planning.

by Kelsey Betancourt

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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.

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Photos by Steven Dewall, Chas Metivier, and Brad Nicol

Sarah Barnard: LEED AP, Interior Designer, 2017 ASID Scholar Award Winner

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Sarah Barnard has been recognised by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) as a rising leader in the interior design industry demonstrating exceptional leadership and a willingness to push the boundaries of the profession. Awarded with the highest honor of Scholar, the ASID recognises Sarah's commitment to fostering connectivity and growth throughout the community.

"As a LEED AP, I design healthy, sustainable interiors for non-profit organizations that work to protect our architectural and cultural heritage and fight for social and environmental justice."

Sarah has been committed to helping organizations that protect and advance our society as well as our humanity, standing firm in a quest to aid institutions such as: The Heritage Square Museum, the Santa Monica Conservancy and the Olmstead Preservation Association, working to protect architectural and cultural histories; the Downtown Women’s Center providing permanent supportive housing to homeless women; the National Immigration Law Center providing protection for immigrants, low-income workers and people of all genders and sexual orientations; Life Rolls On-Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, aiding and inspiring people with disabilities.

"These types of organizations have never been more important to our well-being, yet in present times, are at great risk. I understand that by providing pro-bono design services, securing donations of goods and services and by always continuing to encourage growth and expansion of a compassionate community, we can encourage each other to create a better world, with hope, beauty and dignity." 

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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 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 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.

Contemporary Luxe: Children's Rooms

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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.'

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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.

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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.

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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 Charlie Daniels

Contemporary Luxe: Indoor Outdoor Family Room

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This contemporary luxe Manhattan Beach family home has a cozy patio pairing luxurious outdoor textiles with Chinese artisan pottery to create a quiet retreat. The modern luxury of this patio level family room reflects the individuality and youth of the homeowners.

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With a focus on the homeowner's art collection, Sarah Barnard's design allows for plenty of display space featuring one of a kind pieces: an antique brass lamp, a vintage Japanese sculpture by Kent Artware and a hand carved mahogany conch shell from Negril.

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An innovative guest room features a custom bed with a metallic leather headboard and a claw foot base. Luxurious silk bedding and warming brass accents adorn this contemporary retro bedroom.

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A second guest bedroom hosts twin beds with matching leather bolsters. The painstakingly veneered custom headboard features a floating desk drawer and a vintage 1930's office chair that melds Hollywood Glamour with Industrial Chic.

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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 Charlie Daniels

Historic West Hollywood Bungalow: Dining Room

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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: 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 www.SarahBarnard.com.

Photos by Chas Metivier

Historic West Hollywood Bungalow: Heineken Green Kitchen

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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.

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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: Caribbean Blue Bathroom

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This historic West Hollywood bungalow is all about color! The newly remodeled bathroom features a custom tile design by Sarah Barnard. The rich browns and vibrant teal blue's inspire thoughts of the Caribbean Sea. The spacious walk-in shower features a limestone seat providing the perfect complement to the saturated chocolate wall tiles.

Subtle details and accessories counterbalance the bathroom's bold colors. Handmade art tile and a beautiful handmade vessel make this masculine space special. A rustic mirror frame made of recycled barn wood helps to keep the new space fun and funky.

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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: Orange Dreamsicle Bathroom

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Orange dreamsicle! Formerly a coat closet, this jewel box of a bathroom is made more functional by re-distributing the unused space. Sarah Barnard was able to add a walk-in shower to the previously compact guest bathroom.

This particular shade of orange inspires positivity and energy. By installing ceramic tile in a vertical pattern, they elongate the tiny space. Pebble tiles on the shower floor create an indoor/outdoor feeling. The small corner mounted sink makes the most of the limited floor 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 www.SarahBarnard.com.

Photos by Chas Metivier

Harbor-Side Loft: Master Bedroom

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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 www.SarahBarnard.com.

Photos by Chas Metivier

Harbor-Side Loft: Living Room

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A high-rise apartment building in Marina Del Rey, California seemed the perfect fit for a beach-loving New Yorker and his beloved golden retriever. While he valued the location and the bones of the place, the homeowner wasn’t sure how best to make this house feel like his home. Interior designer Sarah Barnard introduced natural materials, saturated colors, modern fixtures, and a textured palette elegant enough for entertaining and durable for everyday life.

The apartment’s open floor plan allows for a pleasant flow between the kitchen, dining and living areas. The dining area features a muted neutral palette accented by the oversized chandelier. This modern circular design brings rustic brightness to the dining room. Artwork by Sara Pae, Evan Conway, and Rebekah Waites adds a playful contemporary element to the otherwise traditional spaces.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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: Guest Bathrooms

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This Park View Pied-à-terre features two petite guest bathrooms that make a bold statement. Mid-century Modern meets rustic farmhouse chic in this elegant guest bathroom design. Wall mounted mirrors were custom made from salvaged barn wood to perfectly fit the compact spaces. The black and white modernist furniture provides a bold, contemporary contrast to the vintage light fixtures and rustic details.

Each guest bathroom creates a unique statement it's own featuring custom sink and fixtures. A grey river rock vessel sink pairs with honed stone counters and crackled ceramic backsplash tiles. Incorporating organic elements, such as natural stones, woods and ceramics emphasizes the environmental focus of this French contemporary renovation.

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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