DESIGNER SARAH BARNARD'S BESPOKE ENVIRONMENTS ATTRACT A NEW BREED OF WELL-OBSESSED HOMEOWNERS.
Can your home increase serotonin, decrease cortisol and maybe even provide its own form of ongoing, domestic therapy? According to Sarah Barnard, the answer is an emphatic yes. Here’s how the interior designer is disrupting her industry, from Palos Verdes to Pacific Palisades and beyond.
“A lot of times people want to start the design process with their favorite colors and styles, but beginning with the client’s specific physical, mental and emotional map creates a home that supports and restores the people within it,” says Barnard, a WELL-and LEED-accredited interior designer. That means going beyond Pinterest boards. “When we delve into deeper personal needs—sleeping challenges, as well as sensory and mobility challenges—then I can create a space that is truly supportive.”
The designer’s new Abutilon eco wallcovering in Midnight Forest
Barnard says the other key to creating supportive environments is connecting to nature as much as possible. “The more we can meld our indoors with the outside, the more we reduce stress and improve mood,” says the designer, who routinely weaves natural patterns and images into homes while giving them as much access to the outdoors as possible. “Being able to see what’s happening outdoors is part of our primal need for security, so a lot of our work focuses on maximizing views, whether it’s enlarging windows, expanding doorways, installing glass walls or collaborating with a landscape designer.”
It’s an approach that goes beyond flora and fauna. Barnard is also a proponent of the “cosmopolitical” approach to home creation. “Traditionally, homes are designed to keep wildlife out. We take a different approach. Cosmopolitical design thinking sees nature not as a commodity that belongs to us, but rather as a system that, when we support it, makes us happier and healthier,” says Barnard, who has built everything from “way stations” for butter flies to feeding and breeding zones for animals found in the Santa Monica Mountains. “Making homes habitable for and supportive of wildlife—whether that’s insects or small animals—makes a huge impact on both our personal health as well as that of the planet.”