Kitchen & Bath Design News

OCT 2018

Kitchen & Bath Design News is the industry's leading business, design and product resource for the kitchen and bath trade.

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GLOBALLY, THERE'S INTEREST in reducing chronic illnesses that today cause three out of four deaths (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke), and in combating growing health issues such as fall-related injuries, obesity and asthma. Closer to home, baby boomers are actively mov- ing into their 70s and millennials are super- focused on health and active living. Our design efforts can and should combat the risk factors associated with these chronic conditions by improving access and support, and by promoting health and wellness, possibly through the inclusion of a home wellness center. Whether it's through expansion of the master suite or a fitness or flex space, or a stand-alone sanctuary, we can include design concepts and products that encourage active living, healthy eating and attention to the improvement of mind, body and spirit. Following is an overview of considerations and possible components that address this total fitness in the home, as a start- ing point for creating health-promoting spaces, and particularly the home wellness center. ELEMENTS OF THE HOME WELLNESS CENTER In addressing wellness, we often think first of design that stimulates and supports activity. For many, a shortage of time, a change in health or the addition of young children in the home drives the desire for a home fitness space. By making the space convenient and appealing, healthy habits can be established. These spaces are growing in size, amenities and location as the focus on improving and main- taining good health increases. Depending on how many people will use the space and at what time of day, the fitness space is often located adjacent to the master suite, or, by necessity, in a space where equipment-related noises can be isolated. Based on the client profile, the intended space, the desired equipment and the activities planned for exercise should be identified as a first step. Portable equipment requires specific storage space and larger equipment requires appropriate clearances for single or multiple us- ers. Mat-related activities such as Pilates or yoga have their own space allowances. The NKBA Bath Planning book includes a client survey and some general dimensions, and a consul- tation with a p ersonal trainer can help in this planning. When determining the size and shape of the space, special consideration should be given to ceiling heights, as the intended activi- ties might require non-conforming dimensions. Once the location has been determined, surfaces, finishes and natural and supplemen- tal lighting will determine the ambience and function of the space. Flooring considerations include safety, easy maintenance, cushioning where desired and sound absorption. Wall surfaces involve the same criteria as flooring, with oversized windows and mirrored walls being desirable. The quality of the lighting will motivate or discourage the user, with natural light being the most appealing, and indirect or non-glare lighting where needed. Of equal importance with space for high activity, space that encourages and supports stillness is an essential aspect of a healthy mind, body and spirit. Among the benefits of meditation are decreased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced anxiety and stress and im- proved sleep. Another major benefit: Published research (Biological Psychiatry, 2016) found reduced levels of markers for unhealthy inflam- mation in the blood of study participants who added meditation to their daily schedule. For truly mindful meditation, there must be no distractions, so this space must be a true sanctuary. In addition, most forms of meditation or reflection include a specific posture, a focus of attention such as a word or verse, a breathing technique and an open attitude, which again has to do with eliminating negative thoughts, distractions or concerns – clearing the mind. This space should be separated from active spaces within the home, with control of all ele- ments impacting the senses. Regarding sight, adjustability, color and temperature in lighting, and source and direction of the light must be considered, as well as the colors, textures and finishes that will impact the visual experience. Some of these choices, especially texture, will impact touch. Many of the same details will im- pact both taste and smell, including the need to isolate this space from any odors that might dis- tract, and to include aromas or scents that might be associated with calm, as well as to maintain clean and healthy air, and access to healthy cleansing foods or beverages. Last, but critically important, attention to hearing includes what can be heard and what cannot. Removal of unwanted and distracting sound and availability of peaceful sounds will have the most impact on the success of a meditation space. Additionally, there are a number of consid- erations and some comforts or luxuries that might enhance both aspects of the space. In general, the room location, its connection to na- ture and the outdoors, real or designed, and the size and height of the space can enhance time given to either active exercise or quiet time. Whatever the purpose, the location of these spaces within the home sends a strong message and there is a trend away from the dark corners of the home toward locating where the view is inspiring, encouraging healthy habits. Critical to both types of experience, audio-visual can simulate that important connection to nature, as well as offering entertainment and fitness or meditation routines or training. The whole-house HVAC system may need to be supplemented to ensure good air circula- tion as well as temperature, odor and humidity control. Provision for healthy beverages and food could simply be a drinking water source, or a small but more complete kitchen. Whether adjacent to the master suite or not, access to a bathroom is desirable for refreshing after exercise. Sufficient and accessible storage will contribute to the sense of serenity and the abili- ty to exercise in the space. After activity and before stillness, there are many options for spa-related treatments – too much to include here – in the design of the well- ness center. While rarely can all of these concepts be included, any of them will contribute to the experience. To help make this work, all or part of the wellness center might be planned as a flex space, intended for alternate uses when needed. Health happens where we live. A beauti- ful, accessible space in which to exercise and to reflect is a proactive approach to a long, healthy life. Given the world's problems with lifestyle-related chronic disease, there are a number of resources available to help us along, including the Fitwel and the WELL Building Standard, Active Design Guidelines and the ULI evidence-based Building Healthy Places Toolkit. As kitchen and bath designers, we are already dealing with many related issues, and this col- umn touches on the opportunity that we have to create homes that make it easier for us to be more active, happier and healthier. ▪ " Health happens where we live. A beautiful, accessible space in which to exercise and to reflect is a proactive approach to a long, healthy life." Read past columns and features and send us your comments about this article and others at Examining the Home Wellness Center MARY JO PETERSON, CMKBD, CAPS, CLIPP 26 Kitchen & Bath Design News • October 2018 PLANNING & DESIGN

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