Why health-improving homes are the new green, and the designers helping you sleep better than anyone you know
How choosing the right paint, building and furniture materials, air and lighting systems, and even shower head can turn a home into a restorative oasis that contributes to your overall well-being.
For the better part of a decade, furniture designer Enrico Marone Cinzano has lived mostly in five-star hotels around the world. But although he had access to every conceivable luxury, it felt like there was something missing. “I still did not feel as energetic, bright eyed and bushy tailed as I should have,” the London-based designer says. “I realised I was living an unsustainable and toxic life.” So Cinzano threw himself into exhaustive research into how to create a home environment that not only does no harm, but actually elevates the feeling of well-being. The more he thought about it, the more he realised that creating healthful interiors should almost be a given these days: people spend most of their time indoors – and much of that in their bedrooms. And while products such as non-toxic paint and air purifiers are commonplace, he didn’t want to stop at just keeping the bad at bay. Instead, he focussed on creating a home that felt restorative. “I’m a Mediterranean person and I live in London, where most people get depressed when the weather is bad. But I never get depressed. I sleep better than anyone I know. I believe my surroundings have done that for me,” he says. Last year, Cinzano completed a radical home improvement process that not only guards against common indoor-pollution issues – allergies, excessive humidity, contact with formaldehyde, bathing in chlorine-filled water – but also, he says, makes him feel better than ever. Lighting was an obvious detail that needed attention. He altered the illumination in his 485 sq ft flat so that daytime lighting replicates a beautiful summer’s morning – the sort that boosts serotonin levels in the body and helps to ward off the blues. At night, a master switch cuts off all lighting throughout the flat, so it is perfectly dark. His mattress is made from organic materials and not coated with the usual flame retardant, which he says causes an “off-gassing” every time a person rests their weight on it. He also coated the walls of his bedroom with paint containing colloidal silver – regarded as an effective antibacterial substance. In some circles, it’s believed to protect the body from the electromagnetic frequencies caused by constant exposure to Wi-fi. “When you make that kind of effort, it generates a vibe that feeds on itself,” he says. “The cumulative benefits are obvious.” Cinzano, whose furniture – made using sustainable wood – is available at Pearl Lam Galleries in Shanghai, is aware his home makeover could possibly be considered extreme. But he says there is a slow but gradual movement brewing among forwardthinking homeowners, designers and developers who believe that health-improving homes are the new green. At the luxury development Eleven on Lenox, in South Beach, Florida, the 11 townhouses – slated for completion in early 2018 and to costbetween US$3 million and US$4 million – will feature lighting systems that automatically harmonise with the body’s natural circadian rhythms, complementing the biological clock to help occupants sleep better and feel well rested. “Buyers are responding well, because this is something new, and can help people feel better every day,” says Masoud Shojaee, president and chairman of the Shoma Group, which is developing Eleven on Lenox. “Properly maintaining these internal systems by replicating natural light can take us to another level in our health. It’s another luxury that is more about wellness.” It may also be the next big thing in luxury real estate. The Wellness Habitat Company, with offices in Miami and Mexico City, was founded by property industry veterans and works on transforming interior spaces into what it describes as “healthy habitats”: its advisory board members include a nephrologist and internal medicine specialist, an ear, nose and throat doctor, a water quality specialist, and even an expert in lighting and circadian rhythm technology. One of its strongest recommendations is installing a vitamin C shower head – water goes through filters lined with ascorbic acid, neutralizing the chlorine and moisturizing instead of drying out the skin. Designers