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The Thoughtful Home Series: Part Four

June 28, 2021 | By Daniel R. Swift, AIA

The Architecture of Human Peak Performance

As a student of design and housing for more than 30 years, I’ve always felt that architects have a golden opportunity to create spaces that will have a dramatic impact on homeowners. Recent studies have shown that we spend about 83% of our life indoors, which means floor plans have to become so much more than just lines on paper. The goal of The Thoughtful Home is to consider, on a deep and personal level, the way interior spaces can physically and emotionally change the way a homeowner feels about the home. Even more, The Thoughtful Home will actually help people live longer, more fulfilled lives.

Life is stressful, so I believe a home should alleviate stress wherever possible. Life can also be exhausting, so eliminating wasted time and energy is a key strategy in The Thoughtful Home design. In whole, the house works harder for homeowners than they do for the house. This naturally creates more happiness and better health.

RELAXATION

Home is our oasis and must be intentionally designed, furnished and decorated to instill a pleasing sense of calm whenever possible. The appropriate introduction of natural light, modulating ceiling heights and colors, and introducing noise-canceling technology are all elements of this design principle. A plan should create peaceful zones of escape in multiple locations to ensure each resident has the opportunity to unwind and reset.

nullnull1. Relax Room: Located where we often find home offices, the relax room uses a flex approach that enables two distinctly different types of relaxation. First, the traditional den concept is on full display here, with comfortable furnishings in an intimately sized room that can be fully partitioned (physically and visibly) from the rest of the home. Second, a convenient pocket office creates a distraction-free zone that relieves the stress of interruption when working from home.

2. Outdoor Living: Five separate outdoor living spaces offer ample opportunity to enjoy fresh air, sunshine or shade, and views of nature or street activity. We are hard-wired to be refreshed by the outdoors, including the natural benefits of moderate sun exposure. The Thoughtful Home makes it easy to find the perfect outdoor oasis to enjoy a good book, some peace and quiet, or a relaxing conversation with family or friends.

REJUVENATION

Homes have the potential to help us live longer, healthier lives. This starts with perfect sleep, made possible by thoughtful design principles derived from scientific data. Throughout the floor plan, opportunities to disconnect, isolate and reset are seamlessly integrated into the home. Using these spaces can directly benefit mental and physical health, creating a collective sense of rejuvenation that leads to contentment.

Though not immediately evident in the floor plan, the owners’ suite was designed to enable the most perfect sleeping environment possible. Black-out shades block even the smallest traces of light, which can permeate our thin eyelids to disrupt deep sleep. A closed door doesn’t trap stale air in the room like in most homes; instead, a separate, filtered air supply continuously circulates perfect air – greatly reducing the chance of waking up feeling stuffy and groggy. Zoned thermostatic control cools the room to between 58 and 62 degrees at night, the optimal temperature for ideal sleep.

Multiple passive design features in the home save time and even eliminate some menial tasks. Simply moving through The Thoughtful Home actually creates a sense of calm energy that is reinvigorating all on its own. But this saved energy has a perfect outlet: Easy access to focused, regular exercise that targets cardiac health and physical strength. The modestly sized exercise space is welcoming and intimate even while remaining fully connected to the lower level great room. A Peloton is staged proudly on a raised platform, with sightlines through the entire floor and across the outdoor living space. It offers a standing invitation that is difficult to refuse.

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CONCLUSION

The Thoughtful Home is a design approach that might not seem revolutionary on paper. Lots of current floor plans have owners’ entries, exercise rooms and pocket offices, right? While that is true, very few plans leverage actual scientific data, neuroscience and human performance metrics to deliberately script the way these spaces feel and function for homeowners. Subtle changes on paper can have an astronomical impact in daily life. Because of this, The Thoughtful Home creates multiple opportunities to make homeownership easier, more relaxing and rejuvenating. We’re taking the first steps toward creating a legacy where every home we design can help people live happier, longer lives.