Do you feel your blood pressure start to rise when you struggle to make a conference call in your noisy home office? Does you heart race every time you reach up to pull a heavy, hot casserole dish from your awkward, over-the-range microwave? If so, you’ve experienced something architects, interior designers and doctors understand: physical surroundings impact both our emotional well being and our physical health. How can you improve your family’s outlook? Plan a bathroom remodel, kitchen remodel, home office addition or sunroom addition!
Consider this: When they design a commercial building, architects place a great deal of thought into how a space will feel to its occupants. They position windows, select materials and adjust wall placement and ceiling heights to create the right ambiance. Interior designers then carefully place furniture to create intimate gathering spaces or produce a wide-open expanse and then select colors that will energize or pacify occupants – depending on the intent of the space. While we often marvel at these effects in towering skyscrapers, transcendental churches and peaceful public gardens, we generally don’t think about them in terms of our homes, and that’s a shame, because our homes impact our emotional and physical health every single day.
If something in your kitchen, bathroom or home office isn’t working, it is causing you and your family stress every day. There are obvious physical results: Thresholds that are too high can make you trip. Closets that are crammed full due to a lack of storage space can cause an avalanche of stuff to tumble down on unsuspecting residents. Bathrooms that aren’t universally designed may be inaccessible to someone facing a temporary or permanent physical challenge. Yet stresses go much deeper than these obvious impacts. If your kitchen is too cramped, your family won’t gather there, instead spreading out individually across your home, which reduces quality family time. If your home office isn’t efficient, it may take you longer to get your work accomplished, making you appear less productive when you are working from home.
Over time, these “little” stresses add up and can take a physical toll. Stress manifests itself physically in headaches, muscle tension and pain, fatigue, chest pain, irritability, restlessness, anxiety and depression. It can ultimately lead to eating disorders, anger management problems and even drug or alcohol abuse. While we’re not saying that a dysfunctional kitchen is solely to blame for an eating disorder, a kitchen that doesn’t function for you does make you want to limit your time there, which ultimately makes you grab meals on the go that may not be as healthy as those you would make yourself. The same pattern holds true for most rooms in your home. So as you are looking around your home, consider those spaces that add stress to your life, and then consider a remodeling project or addition. The changes you make may do far more than improve the value of your home, they may just improve your family’s health!