Marie Kondo’s tidying method can be a bit extreme, but I do believe some of our households need a serious and thorough solution to become a real protective shell. Houses protect us from the elements and other dangers, but they can pose real risks to our well-being if they are not taken care of properly. As an interior designer, I have narrowed down to three major types of houses which can be harmful to inhabitants: a full house, a poorly-ventilated house, and a house with ineffective traffic patterns. I will leave unsound structures to architects.
A full house is full of stuff. When you add an item into your house, more often than not, you introduce new chemicals and dust to your living environment. Chemicals generally come from the materials used to make containers, surfaces, and sealants. Dust is in the forms of fibers, minerals, and pollen. If everything is well chosen, well organized, and the house is well ventilated then a full house might be an interesting place to be. However, houses with more stuff than necessary are often messy and confusing. It is hard to keep them clean, too. It is energy draining and harmful living in such environment. Controlling the amount of stuff collected is key to improve this type of environment. We can also choose health-friendly, less chemical products.
I actually prefer a full house than a poor-ventilated house. A house without proper ventilation feels stuffy and unpleasant. The people living in the house might not notice that since they are accustomed to the indoor environment. Still air can be the source of many respiratory diseases. It can also cause low energy and depression. Treating this problem can be as easy as open windows or clean air ducts. It can also be a major project such as redesigning the house’s ventilation system.
Finally, the way we allocate circulation routes around the house may also be ineffective and, sometimes, dangerous. Most of the time, the walk ways are too narrow or are obstructed by disproportional furniture. In other cases, the layout is just off, leading us to never see each other or keep bumping into each other. A good circulation plan also takes into account the possibility and the time needed to get out of the house in case of emergency.
The most serious cases have all the three above combined. Unfortunately, they are not uncommon. I often see two-car garages too full to fit a bike, kids’ rooms smell musty, or busy kitchens with bottlenecks. Designing a new, unfurnished interior is much easier than redesigning a full, furnished one. Making an interior beautiful only happens after we clean it up. It may be time consuming, but after we do our part, the system will work for us, giving us more time and better health to enjoy our lives.