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


Eluxe Magazine: Dream House! Sustainable Interior Design by the Sea




Who doesn’t dream of a beautiful home outfitted with all natural materials, organic textiles, handmade and eco-friendly furnishings – on the coast, no less? Eco-friendly interior designer  Sarah Barnard was asked to perform a design overhaul on a 3,600 sq. ft. family home in Santa Monica. The stipulation? The owners wanted sustainable interior design that reflects a seaside theme throughout the living spaces.

Called the Peaceful Palisades Project, the resulting house boasts materials such as ceramic, wood and wool, as well as outstanding customised features such as a concrete fireplace, designed by Sarah.

Sarah’s diverse body of work includes upscale private residences, chic restaurants, luxurious spas and impressive corporate headquarters, and her projects have been featured in local and national publications, and have placed prominently in several noted design competitions. Here, we asked her a little bit about what motivates her ecological interior designs.


What are the biggest differences designing a family home and one for singletons or couples?

While all of our clients care about healthy living, parents with young children are especially concerned about the materials that make up their home environments. Natural, non-toxic materials are of the highest importance when creating spaces for growing children.

Where do you source your eco-friendly decor materials from, generally?

I buy locally whenever possible. Our firm has longstanding relationships with local artists and artisans who hand-make most of our goods, focusing on using natural, reclaimed, and honest materials. Aside from being beautiful and healthy, pieces made this way tend to be more treasured and are more likely to be kept by a family for longer.


What are some of your favourite features of the Palisades house?

The original bones of the house were excellent. The living room has a beautiful exposed beam ceiling and there is an exposed brick fireplace that remains a decorative element in the new kitchen. We wrestled with the idea of preserving or upgrading the original red brick. We collectively decided to keep it (in the kitchen only) as a homage to the architect’s original intent.

And what are some of your favourite design features?

Unique handmade objects bring authenticity and personalization to a home. The sculptural wall sconces in the living room and dining room are one-of-a-kind; I designed two different sets specifically for this home. The dining room pair were made of ceramic and were inspired by the property’s calming ocean view. The elegantly contoured living room sconce was carved by hand from American Walnut by a trusted woodworker based on sketches and hand-made miniatures. The organic forms and natural finishes match perfectly with the coastal ambiance of the space.

Both fireplaces needed to be completely redone. In the living room I designed a long horizontal concrete facade and hearth with gently waving etched lines to mimic the movement of the nearby sea. In the dining room, I chose a Ann Sacks tile glazed in brilliant blue to create an updated linear pattern neatly framed by a custom concrete mantle.


What are some of the biggest challenges you face when sourcing eco-friendly interiors items?

The wait times-miracles don’t happen overnight. We often work with small shops and individual artisans who handcraft our pieces to order. Patience truly is a virtue when building natural, custom homes.

What was the family’s reaction to your work?

The homeowner for this project was very happy with the final result and the new connection the space had with its surroundings. She was easy to work with, since she is highly intelligent and conscious about sustainability. Caring deeply about the environment and the health of her family, we didn’t have to pitch these concepts about health and wellness to her, she embraced them wholeheartedly.


What would be your ultimate dream house?  

That would be to design would be a home that is harmonious with the nature around it. I love to work with nature and my ideal projects are ones where the environment–whether that’s the desert, ocean, prairie, jungle, or anything else–is physically and spiritual intertwined with the home. The house would have epic views and a unique personality. It would also have an owner who cares about sustainability and wellness.

By Chere Di Boscio

Photos by Steven Dewall

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

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit

Award Winning Los Angeles Interior Designer Achieves WELL Accreditation

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

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


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

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

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

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit

For more information about WELL