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

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DREAM HOUSE! SUSTAINABLE INTERIOR DESIGN BY THE SEA

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 www.SarahBarnard.com.

Biophilia: Nature & Design

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You may have seen the terms "biophilia" or "biophilic design" brandished around the internet lately, posted between beautiful images of sprawling interior design and architecture filled with plants and nature-inspired sculpture installations. Biophilia isn't new–but it is a growing discipline in interior design. If you are interested in healthy living or are a  building owner, it's a subject worth learning.

Biophilia is our innate desire to be close to nature–and biophilic design aims to make healthy and comfortable interiors by meaningfully incorporating natural elements into our home and work environments. Los Angeles-based interior designer Sarah Barnard sat down with me to explain how she uses biophilic principles to create healthful, smart spaces for her clients. "It's intuitive when you think about it. Biophilia exists because we are comforted by nature, and we all understand that on some level. Nobody wants to live in a little grey box–we want to live in open spaces connected with the environment, plant-life, and the seasons."

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Biophilic design puts a few simple principles to use to create spaces that are both visually beautiful and spiritually healthful. As more and more of us make our careers our focus, calmness, serenity and healthy living can be challenging to achieve without the help of nature and smart design. There are years of study to support what we already know in our bones: spaces that have nature incorporated are more appealing to us, and they have marked health benefits.

Terrapin Bright Green is a consulting firm specializing in sustainability to create a healthy, prosperous, and regenerative future for all. They produce workshops, research, planning, guidelines, and product development. They have researched biophilia and organized their findings into 14 principles of biophilic design and have studied the effects of biophilia on our health and wellness. For the most part, many of the principles are simple and intuitive, such as ‘Visual Connection with Nature,’ which is just what it sounds like: adding natural elements or a view to nature into your space.However if you’d like to read an in-depth, thorough explanation of all 14 principles, you can see the results of Terrapin’s research here: https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/14-patterns/ . For today, we need only to talk about the three subcategories of the design principles: Nature in the Space, Natural Analogies, and Nature of the Space.

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Nature in the space refers to the presence of natural elements in an interior. For example, that could mean having plants, shells, or water features. But it could also mean more abstract features, like natural light or light that changes throughout the day, air circulation, and a view to the outdoors. “What you exclude is as just important as what you include,” said Barnard. “I choose art made with natural materials or vintage art that has off-gassed to avoid putting noxious smells or chemicals into a space. Indoor air quality accounts for part of how we feel about our homes and how comfortable we are.” All of her designs include live plants, too, which contributes to air quality, a non-visual connection with nature.

Natural analogies refers to art and forms inspired by nature: a light fixture that looks like a plant or a sculpture that looks like an animal, for example. A good designer will find natural forms and art for you to choose from so you can have art that imitates nature. Barnard walked me through a project she made custom light fixtures for. “The home was beside the ocean, and I wanted to make something inspired by the beautiful surroundings of that space. I started by sketching forms inspired by coral reefs, and I made miniatures in clay by hand. When they were ready, I had them fabricated by a local craftsman. Having forms that imitated the shape and texture of coral and having light cast in beautiful organic patterns made the space feel natural and serene.”

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Nature of the space means making the space itself seem like nature. Having a large open space through which you can see an expanse of space, as well as an enclosed room that feels safe fulfills this need. When asked for an example of how Nature of the Space might be used, Barnard said “I finished a project recently where the space had floor-to-ceiling windows with a view to the ocean. I selected low profile furniture to preserve the open space of the room and the sightline to the sea.”

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Terrapin also explains that there are three basic types of “nature-health” relationships: cognitive functionality and performance, psychological health and well-being, and physiological health and well-being. Cognitive functionality and performance is our mental acuity and focus. Psychological health and well-being refers to our mood, perception, and emotional state. Physiological health and well-being is our bodily health and performance.

All three areas of well-being see improvement when the 14 principles of biophilic design are applied in a space. The benefits have been thoroughly studied: each principle has been individually tested and shown improvements such as concentration, stress hormone levels, overall happiness, and numerous other positive effects.

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In fact, research by other sources has yielded similar results. The Human Spaces Global Report also found greater levels of well being in subjects with a view of natural elements rather than urban settings, according to a recent article by Steelcase’s magazine 360.

Steelcase, the largest furniture manufacturer in the world, is dedicated to sustainability, innovation, and wellness. They too have invested into researching biophilia in order to produce furniture for healthy, sustainable spaces. They describe the human experience with nature in four categories:

Sensory richness: mixing colors, textures, sizes and shapes. Varied elements in a space mimics nature and puts us at ease.

Natural rhythms and signals: anything that reminds us of natural processes can help restore us. Natural lighting that allows real sunlight, or artificial light that changes to mimic natural light.

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Challenges in nature: the idea is that our challenging environment is what pushed humanity to grow into what we are today, so there should be encouragement towards effort.

Local distinctiveness: having a feature that does not repeat anywhere else in the building can help large offices from becoming soulless or bleak. Reserving a certain material or color for one room can make it and the surrounding space more special and pleasant.

These four principles are a useful way to understand how we are affected by nature, and offer another way to begin tackling the design challenges you may be facing in your home or workspace. Whether you use these four facets or the 14 principles of biophilic design as a jumping off point to improve your space, a deeper connection with nature is healthy and beneficial.

“When you strip it down to basics, using biophilic design means including pieces of nature in the design, elements inspired by nature, and mimicking natural environments with layout, architecture and planning,” Barnard said. Homeowners and building owners especially might consider taking these premises into account in order to make their home or office a place that promotes their mental and physical wellbeing. Getting started can be as simple as purchasing a few plants. If you aren’t sure where to go from there, a designer can help you put all the principles into practice. Ideally, your space incorporates nature, smart design and healthy living.

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.

References

Browning, W., Ryan, C., Clancy, J., 14 PATTERNS OF BIOPHILIC DESIGN. Retrieved from https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/14-patterns/

Steelcase Corporation, Restoration Office. Retrieved from https://www.steelcase.com/research/articles/topics/wellbeing/restoration-office/

Photos by Chas Metivier, Steven Dewall

Award Winning Los Angeles Interior Designer Achieves WELL Accreditation

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

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

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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 www.SarahBarnard.com.

For more information about WELL https://www.wellcertified.com/en