Remodeling has seen a HUGE upward trend in spending since last year, and it’s easy to imagine why. With families spending more time at home (in most cases, more time than EVER), it makes sense to spend money normally dished out for vacations and entertainment on a more comfortable, enjoyable, and healthy home environment.
That’s the key word these days, isn’t it? Health…the whole remodeling industry has been abuzz with more clients looking at remodels as an opportunity to live healthier and protect their families.
Sure, ROI on a big remodel is still a “thing.” Just look at the remodels with the biggest return, and you’ll see there are still certain projects homeowners are favoring. While ROI is a nice benefit, though, it’s no longer the focus. The year 2020 threw ALL of our values, priorities and even our worst fears into sharp relief, and now remodeling has taken on a different set of principles.
Health use to be a sort of unexpected benefit that homeowners gained from a remodel.
“Oh, my old coat of paint was lead-based? Glad that’s out of the house!”
“Oh, that moldy corner in the bathroom was a product of my outdated ventilation? Well, yuck! Glad that’s fixed.”
Today, however, with the new global focus on health, more innovation is possible for even bigger health outcomes. Home design can support a healthy lifestyle. Now, the “payout” from remodels can be measured in years lived and lived well (instead of just dollars returned).
A little time travel will prove my point. Buckle up, and let’s look at the history of a “healthy home…”
The Old Idea of “Healthy Homes”
Back in 2014, Houzz did a Healthy Home Study that surveyed 808 homeowners around the country. They asked questions about the health of their homes and took things into account like year built and chemical exposure, and then compared that data to the same families’ perception of how healthy their homes were.
One in five said they considered their homes “non-healthy.”
While 2014 wasn’t all that long ago, a LOT has happened since then. Big news stories about asbestos and lead-based paint quickly took a backseat to articles about indoor air quality. New technologies like UV light air purifiers and greater education around duct cleaning flooded the web. Even we wrote an article about how to test the air quality in Texas homes, specifically.
Interestingly, the more energy-efficient a home is, the greater danger there is for low indoor air quality. This correlation is discouraging, but think about it—you’re essentially sealing in everything that your ducts collect, including dust, allergens, and chemicals.
Since an energy-efficient home is still a modern-day essential (to save the planet just as well as your wallet), new services like camera-guided duct cleanings became all the rage as this home healthy concern continued to trend up.
Even without a properly-sealed home for optimal HVAC performance, however, other elements inside the home are always toxic. The WHO reports that around 4.3 million people die each year from indoor air pollution, including pet dander!
That breaks my heart on SO many levels…
The New Idea of a Healthy Home
Healthy home remodeling is on the rise in a big way since the first quarter of 2020, but with a new idea of what that really means. Many remodelers haven’t even started to explore the possibilities yet, which we think is a loss for the industry as well as for the homeowners who are on the other side of a pandemic looking for ANY way to promote healthier, happier living in their homes.
The new idea of healthy homes centers around healthy living. Yes, we CERTAINLY want to avoid toxic chemicals! And yes, we still have to be diligent about indoor air quality. None of that has changed.
After a year of lockdowns, however, with weight gain and depression both on the rise, there are other elements to healthy living that have stepped into the limelight. They address questions like:
• How can your home support a healthy level of productivity?
• How can your home support better sleep?
• How can your home promote better hygiene?
• How can your home promote fitness?
• And (my favorite) how can your home support healthier eating?
Let’s jump into some specific healthy decisions in kitchen remodels as an example!!
The kitchen is where a design problem can mean perpetually burnt dinner, bigger waistlines and a MAJOR roadblock to positive lifestyle change. This soon after the holidays, you can probably feel that in right in your gut!
When planning a kitchen remodel, if you want your family to start living healthier, you can combine that desire with your remodeling project to make decisions for everyone’s wellbeing.
For example, if you’re a perpetual butterer and salter, adding both to just about everything you cook, it’s not your fault—that’s just our hard-wired desire for flavor talking! You can make one simple change in your kitchen cabinetry design to change this habit, though. Install a pull-out herb cabinet, and suddenly a WORLD of flavor is within reach. You can add those to your food instead of the fattening alternatives…
And for goodness sake, a ventilation hood is SO important!! Breathing easy in the kitchen goes WAY past the indoor air quality conversations we’ve had before…and it’s about removing more than just the fumes from cooking. It’s also about maintaining the condition of the cabinets that are hit with all that hot air, grease and food particles—if you don’t, that will build up and not only be totally nasty but will also TRAP far more harmful contaminants.
The easier it is to prepare healthy food, the more likely you are to cook it! This means knowing how to choose the right kitchen appliances so you aren’t stuck digging through cluttered cabinets with all those good intentions.
Designing a kitchen so that healthy food is easier to prepare also means ensuring sufficient counter space. It takes a LOT more space to slice and dice pounds of veggies than it does to throw a pizza in the oven!! You’ll want counterspace for devices, appliances and gadgets, too.
It’s obvious, but I’ll say it: if you keep that air fryer within easy reach, you’ll be a LOT more likely to use it!!
And finally, even a kitchen design feature as simple as an integrated smart speaker system can make a WORLD of difference in supporting a healthy lifestyle…wouldn’t you like spending more time in a kitchen with the upbeat music that encourages you to hang out there?! You might even burn some extra calories dancing while you cook…talk about an added bonus!!
If you’re looking at your kitchen or other areas of your home to see where you can work in healthful elements, use our walk-through remodeling planner to jot your ideas down!
Happiness = Health
Of course, a remodel focused on health also needs an element of emotional health. The right decision made in your remodel can support these three absolute ESSENTIALS for healthy living…
1 – More (and higher-quality) family time
Your home remodel should focus around spaces where your family can congregate and relax together. For many households, that might be your kitchen. The dining room has also become a focal point now that more families are sitting down to eat together.
2 – More “you” time
Of course, your own personal space is also important! And really, it’s even MORE important now that households are spending so much time in close quarters. A healthy remodel will include the spaces where you can spend time alone to unwind. In many cases, that might be a bathroom remodel with a luxurious “spa feel.” And really, the bathroom is where you start AND finish each day, so this space is central to a healthy dose of “you time.”
3 – Space for entertainment
Someday, it will be a “no brainer” to invite friends over for dinner again. Your next remodel might as well factor that in if your focus is on home health, because breaking bread with those we love and entertaining guests are two of the greatest joys life brings!
A remarkable 40% of homeowners with recent kitchen remodels reported spending more time entertaining in the year after. Of course, those new kitchens (and greater ease of cooking plus seating people) had everything to do with that! And if a happy heart isn’t a step in the direction of a healthy one, I don’t know what is!…
Along with the health benefits of social ties and the quiet contrast of peaceful personal space, health in our homes has never gotten more attention. We’re looking at the design of our homes as well as details down to appliance choices and the colors and finishes that bring us aesthetic bliss, because we’ve finally realized just how important these things are.
Living healthy will continue to be a focus into 2021, and we hope your own household will be able to celebrate being a part of it. Which of these health concerns sand out most to you? Please share with me!! You can email me personally to start a conversation. I’m interested in your insights, thoughts, and hopes.
And to everyone reading, Happy New Year! May it be not only a prosperous one, but healthy, too!