Britt had upper respiratory issues as an infant
and continues to be sensitive to off-gassing. “Since
this project is our living laboratory, I really got to
experiment a lot—push the envelope and try new
materials—to see what works and what doesn’t,” she
notes. This resulted in such a clean job site that if
even a tiny amount of adhesive was used, Britt could
immediately smell it and address it.
Only water-based adhesives were used in the cabinetry, millwork, and hardwood floors. They contribute
no formaldehyde or VOCs. Britt even reimagined the
shower pans to her own healthy specifications. The
project also includes pieces from Vervano, a sustain-ably produced, healthy furniture line created by Britt
for residential and contract applications. Made with
such renewable resources as wood and water-based
adhesives and finishes, Vervano’s [residential] foams
aren’t treated with a flame-retardant chemical which,
according to Britt, is something designers working on
residential projects have the luxury of not including.
Of course, Britt’s healthy home features dual-flush toilets to limit unnecessary water usage; all the
appliances are low energy consumption, too. “We
experimented with induction cooking,” she says.
“We don’t have that residue that comes with gas
and we’re not generating more heat into the atmo-
sphere that will need to be cooled down by pumping
in more air-conditioning.”
Specifying a glass cooking surface that doesn’t
heat up anywhere except directly under the pot or
pan also means there are no open flames when sword
fighting is going on. “We have a very open kitchen
and a young child,” explains Britt. Ventilating the
humidity out of the house while cooking or shower-
ing/bathing is another key feature of healthy homes.
Also, a water filtration system takes out any remaining elements like heavy metals that haven’t been
filtered from the Austin water system.
CLEAN LIVING TAKES OFF
Despite a growing popularity, the move to healthy
home choices still often requires a conversation to
help homeowners understand how wide reaching
the benefits can be.
“Helping clients with both interiors and gar-
dens gives me a unique opportunity to talk to them
about our human connection to nature and the out-
doors,” says Amy Vail, Allied ASID, LEED Green
Associate. The principal of Amy Vail Design, a
Portland, Oregon-based interior architecture and
garden design firm, Vail believes the more we recon-
nect ourselves with nature, the more likely we are as
a species to protect and value it.
She always recommends sustainable, healthy
products and finishes first. “Often clients aren’t
familiar with what’s out there, or they’re concerned
with the expense,” says Vail. “I find that once they
see the wide variety of options and how those prod-
ucts and practices will positively affect their lives,
they realize the cost isn’t a deal breaker.”
Currently, Vail is working with a client who
started the process by expressing her family’s
need for an allergen- and toxin-free environment.
“I think the public is starting to understand what
wellness in design really means.” Vail also has had
clients she didn’t think would be interested decide
to go that route because “it’s what everyone is doing
now, right?” Becoming trendy might not be a desirable trait—normally, she adds. “But if it’s wellness
in design we’re talking about, I’m all for it becoming ubiquitous.”
Diana Mosher is a New York City-based communications
professional specializing in content creation and brand
strategy for the real estate and design industries. She also
is an interior design consultant.
Laura Britt considers her home a “living laboratory”
where she is able to experiment with healthy materials.