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Five Facets Of Wellness Design Enhance Homes During Quarantine

Are you one of the millions of Americans sheltering in place to avoid catching or spreading the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19? If so, you’re probably evaluating how well – or how poorly – your home is supporting you in its current stress test.

If you’re new at working from home, you’re looking at issues like noise control, privacy, lighting, your data network, and ergonomics for your new full-time workspace. If you’re home-schooling your children while their schools are closed, you’re also dealing with network issues – possibly while one or more adults also telecommute – and more home maintenance chores related to keeping the surfaces everyone shares disinfected. If you’re caring for an older or ill family member, or have someone immunocompromised in your household, your challenges of taking care of them at home are even greater.

This is probably not the time you’re going to be remodeling your residence to deal with these added home-front challenges, but there are wellness design approaches you can take even now, without a remodel, to mitigate some of the difficulties in dealing with the limitations many homes present. The five facets of wellness design — health and fitness, safety and security, accessibility, functionality, and comfort and joy – can each play a role in making stay at home orders work better for your household and well-being.

Health and Fitness

This first facet of wellness design encompasses cooking healthier meals, getting more and better sleep, maintaining personal hygiene and other basics that keep your body in good condition.

You may be cooking more at home now than you usually do and a few countertop cooking appliances can help with this increased demand. A multi-cooker, convection-steam oven and portable induction burner can all add extra healthy cooking capacity to your kitchen. None require installation and all can be ordered online for home delivery.

Bidet-style toilet seats are a feature to consider at any time you want to enhance your personal hygiene, but can be especially helpful with today’s toilet paper shortages. These are available online and can be added with some DIY skills, or by a trusted professional taking proper precautions for everyone’s safety.

Desk risers that let you stand while working from home, add ergonomics to your workspace and let multiple children use the same computer adjusted to their height also add health and fitness benefits.

Sleep can be challenging at stressful times. While physical and emotional causes of insomnia should be addressed with your healthcare professionals, a few wellness design features can help with some practical causes. One is blackout coverings for your bedroom windows. This keeps outdoor lights from keeping you awake or interrupting your much-needed slumber. Another is a daylight alarm clock, which can stir you awake more gently than the traditional sound methods.

Blackout window coverings

Blackout window coverings support better sleep, an essential health benefit.

Smith & Noble, // Wellness by Design // Simon & Schuster/Tiller Press


Safety and Security

This second facet covers the home features that protect your personal safety and privacy, and that of your household members. While building codes broadly mandate smoke alarms and some add carbon monoxide detectors too, adding radon and volatile organic compound detectors is worth considering with so many more hours spent indoors in tightly-insulated homes.

This is also a good time to ensure that your kitchen and bath ventilation systems are working properly, so you’re not building up grease, smoke, mold or mildew, respectively. Air purifiers are a product worth considering, and can be purchased online.  

Last but not least, many people are looking at technology solutions to handle work from home, distance caregiving and other quarantine-generated needs. It’s a good time to review privacy policies for those solutions and choose the products and settings that best protect you and your family.

Smart home technology for indoor air quality
Smart home technology can detect indoor air quality issues and make your living space safer.

Airthings/GreenRoom // Wellness by Design // Simon & Schuster/Tiller Press


This third facet is often associated with accommodating aging and disability-related issues, but as anyone nursing a sports injury or lower back pain can tell you, having greater accessibility in your home helps more people than just seniors or wheelchair users.

Adding cabinet organizers that make the backs of your pantry shelves as reachable as the front and upgrade a blind corner cabinet so you don’t need knee pads and a flashlight to use its full space can add useful storage capacity while you’re stocking up on essentials and be a weekend DIY project. Many of these products can be ordered online from their manufacturers, home centers or hardware stores.

Accessibility can also be enhanced by assessing your home for potential trip and fall hazards and eliminating them. There’s little to no cost for securing rug corners, repositioning lamp cords or adding traction decals to the bottoms of an older tub, but they can help you avoid an unnecessary urgent care or ER visit.

Blind corner cabinet swing-out organizer
Cabinet organizers enhance your home's accessibility and storage potential.

Kesseböhmer/Kitchen Design by Dee Maher // Wellness by Design // Simon & Schuster/Tiller Press


The fourth facet of wellness design makes home maintenance easier and faster, cuts the potential for germ spread – incredibly important at the moment – and adds living space capabilities that make caregiving simpler.

While you’re not going to replace your undermount sinks or countertops in the midst of a pandemic, replacing shared bathroom and kitchen faucets with hands-free models is a DIY project for someone with those skills and can reduce germ spread. Replacing light switches with hands-free models is also DIY-friendly and germ-spread reducing. Soap dispensers can do the same, and require no installation at all. All of these products, and others, can be ordered online.

Hands-free light switches
Hands-free light switches can reduce germ spread on shared surfaces.


Comfort and Joy

The importance of emotional health is often underrated in crisis situations like the pandemic we’re facing today, but dealing with added stress combined with isolation, fear and sadness can have real impacts on people’s well-being. Comfort and joy features at home can make a small contribution to stress management.  

Creating a wellness space for yourself at home doesn’t have to involve any construction or remodeling, though design professionals anticipate a future demand for those in building projects post-pandemic.  For the time being, choose the quietest corner you can find in your home, gather into it elements you already have and enjoy, whether a cozy throw, favorite photos or artwork, relaxing candle, musical instrument or sound speaker for music – leave off the news and social media in this space – and a journal, sketchbook or other creative outlets you enjoy.

Plants also have wellness benefits and work well as additions to these spaces. If you have a view to nature, position your wellness space to take advantage of it. If you have a private outdoor space with nature connections, your wellness space can live outside.

Balcony with plants
Your wellness space can be outdoors if you have a quiet space there.

Panaria Ceramica/Ceramics of Italy member company // Wellness by Design // Simon & Schuster/Tiller Press

Five Facets Notes

These five facets of wellness design are not mutually exclusive. A feature that adds functionality can also add accessibility, health and fitness. An excellent example of that triple benefit comes in the form of a handheld showerhead with massage capability. It adds functionality to a shower stall by making cleaning it easier. It adds accessibility by letting someone with mobility issues or fatigue shower while seated. And its massage setting can soothe sore muscles, adding a health feature.

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