16 Ideas for a Healthy, Feel-Good Home
Photo: Butler Armsden Architects for Houzz
About the author: Laura Gaskill is a writer for Houzz, which is a platform for home remodeling and design, bringing homeowners and home professionals together in a uniquely visual community.
During warmer months you may be thinking about ways to improve your lifestyle by eating healthier, getting outside more or losing the stress. Take a look at how your home may (or may not) be supporting you in your quest for a healthier life. Here are 16 ways to alter your home (both minor tweaks and major changes) to support healthier choices.
1. Boost indoor-outdoor flow. French doors, sliding glass doors or even an entire glass wall that opens up accordion-style can transform your home. Consider adding one of these features to your kitchen, living room or bedroom to expand your living space and strengthen your connection to nature. Another way to introduce an indoor-outdoor connection is by including a breezeway in your home’s design.
2. Use a stand-up desk. Working at a stand-up desk can help you avoid a number of health issues associated with too much time spent sitting. Having a stool creates the flexibility to sit when you want to.
Photo: Julie Holloway for Houzz
3. Downsize the fridge. Cavernous refrigerators beg to be filled — but unless you have a huge family (in which case you probably need that big fridge), there may be less reason for one home to have that much food storage. If you live near a good market, consider whether having a more modest-size fridge could act as a reminder to shop more frequently for healthier, fresher foods.
4. Set up a comfy place for family meals. Making dinnertime a priority during a busy week isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort to stay connected with family and instill lifelong healthy eating habits. Start by keeping your dining table clutter free, and set the table with real dishes and cloth napkins. And remember to take your time at the table — slowing down fosters conversation and makes for more mindful eating.
5. Grow an indoor herb garden. Having homegrown herbs at your fingertips is bound to inspire your cooking! As long as they get enough light, herbs in a few pots on the windowsill, or in a vertical planter, aren’t much trouble to grow, and they provide big rewards in terms of flavor and freshness.
6. Keep fresh, healthy foods and tools within reach. Healthy whole grains in clear glass containers, a juicer or blender, and baskets of fresh produce all deserve prime spots on the kitchen counter. Keep the tools you need for preparing healthy meals (sharp knives, steam basket, pots and pans) close at hand as well. Move ingredients and tools that are not as conducive to a healthy lifestyle (such as refined sugar, white flour and the microwave) somewhere less conspicuous, like deep in the pantry or in a high cupboard.
7. Keep the stairs as long as you can. If you have stairs in your home, you have a built-in exercise system — think twice before letting that go. It may seem like less of a hassle for families with kids to live on a single level, but remember that those stairs are keeping your entire family healthier than if you didn’t have them. And for those with aging in place to think about, at least consider staying in your home, stairs and all, for as long as you safely and comfortably can. If you are able to climb the stairs, doing so regularly can help keep you strong.
8. Maintain a peaceful bedroom. Getting enough sleep at night is vital to good health. Prime your bedroom for sweet dreams by making sure it is dark and quiet at night, and free of clutter and tech devices. In the morning open up your curtains to let the sunlight help keep your circadian rhythms in balance.
9. If you can, put the TV in its own room. Rather than letting the TV take center stage in an open-plan living space, consider moving it into a separate space. Not having the TV in the main living space makes it easier to avoid turning it on “just because.”
10. Encourage outdoor sports. Have great biking trails or beaches nearby? Make sure you have everything you need at hand so you can hit the trails (or waves) whenever the mood strikes. If it’s too much of a hassle to dig gear out of the garage or basement, you may be tempted to skip it. Beach bums, consider an outdoor shower and surfboard storage area; bikers and hikers, gift yourself an outdoor storage locker in which to stow your gear.
11. Add a fun feature — like a climbing wall. We know this isn’t for everyone, but if you are an avid rock climber, it could make sense to invest in a climbing wall at your own house. Want some other fun features to consider? Try a skateboarding ramp, a lap pool or a bocce court.
Photo: SKHS Architects for Houzz
12. Set up an inspiring workout space. Whether you prefer jumping on the elliptical, lifting weights or rolling out the yoga mat, having a space that supports your preferred activities is essential. Even if you have a gym membership, it’s nice to have the option to work out at home when you can’t make it to the gym (you might even end up liking it so much, you can cancel the gym and save yourself a few bucks). And don’t forget the outdoors — how about using your deck as a platform for outdoor yoga practice?
13. Plant an edible garden. Even with just a small amount of outdoor space, you can grow a few pots of veggies, like lettuces and peppers. If you have more space and time, you can grow a significant amount of your own food at home. Growing your own food can be a satisfying way to eat fresh and healthy, and if you get your kids involved in the garden planning, it can entice picky eaters to try veggies they otherwise wouldn’t touch. Plus, pulling weeds is great exercise.
14. Add a place for al fresco dining. Embrace la dolce vita with a great big outdoor dining table, and enhance your life with leisurely weekend lunches and laid-back dinner parties. Bonus points if you position your outdoor dining table next to your edible garden!
15. Give kids a safe playspace outside. Whether or not you remember the “good old days” when parents used to tell their kids go play outside until dinner, if you are a parent today, it’s likely you would love to find a way to reduce your child’s screen time and increase time in the great outdoors. You can begin by providing a safe outdoor area for your little ones to explore. Having large windows or glass doors looking onto the backyard (see idea No. 1) can let you keep an eye on kids from the house.
16. Get some breathing space. Spending time outside in the fresh air is healthy and relieves stress. Whether you have a postage-stamp-size balcony or a sprawling yard with an incredible view, make the most of it by arranging the space with care. If you do have a great view, position a few lounge chairs so you can enjoy the vista while relaxing. If your view is of the next-door neighbor’s house, use planters to create a buffer and provide something lovely to look at.