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What Science Says About Turning Your Home into a Haven

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Table of Contents

  1. 1. A Scientific Approach to Optimizing Your Home Office
  2. 2. Vision Boarding
If you are working in a common space, consider hanging some different art above the desk so it feels like the space has changed to accommodate your work now.
- Megan Hersch, Interior Designer and RoomLift CEO

Tara Parker Pope’s New York Times column, “Ask Well” provides research-based discussions of what cleaning products to use and how to use them in her article “Have I Been Cleaning All Wrong?” which was last updated May 13. She delves into how long a disinfectant needs to stay on a surface to kill germs and other anxiety-provoking details of home hygiene routines.

Following the Center for Disease Control website (CDC) for updates is also helpful in getting the most up-to-date information available on a day to day contagion concerns if you’re seeking guidance on whether or not to use your tightly rationed Clorox wipes on delivery package sanitization (which the CDC does not regard as high risk) and can save them instead for high traffic surfaces like door handles, light switchboards and countertops, instead.

A Scientific Approach to Optimizing Your Home Office

Terrapin Founding Partner Bill Browning recommends opening a window when you’re working from home to let the fresh air circulate. The solution may seem facile but Terrapin’s free downloadable white papers reinforce the science behind it which Browning summarizes. If you’re able to look out that window onto a natural landscape, even better. If you focus on an object “100 feet away – all the muscles in the eye relax and the lens flattens. If movement outside can distract you and you can look at the distant view for 40 seconds or more, you’ve had a cognitive benefit,” Browning continues. Blood pressure and heart rate go down after looking at nature for only 40 seconds. Your prefrontal cortex quiets as well.

Browning’s work on biophilic design principles is now being used to help workers on the front lines of perhaps the most stressful job in the country now -- treating COVID patients at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital. Taxed by the physical and emotional strain of long and demanding shifts in the pandemic’s maelstrom, New York’s COVID responders now have a recharge room to retreat to. With social distancing and hygiene protocol carefully maintain, comfortable lounge chairs housed in dimly lit recharge rooms provide large video projections of nature scenes and sounds to simulate the experience of being in a natural landscape.

For busy professionals working from home, Browning recommends terrariums and aquariums to improve health and productivity. Again, opening a window is helpful. As is turning on an electric fan to improve airflow. This increases productivity because “outdoor air has a higher level of ionization and inner air tends to be more depleted. Outdoor air also has a lower C02 level. That has a cognitive impact. As CO2 levels rise cognitive performance decreases,” Browning explains.

In addition to the free downloadable white papers on biophilic design, available on the Terrapin website, a book he co-authored with Catherine Ryan, “Nature inside: a biophilic design guide” will be available for purchase in September.

Vision Boarding

If you want to start now and find white papers cumbersome and erudite, your YouTube will provide tutorials on building a terrarium. You can get started by upcycling glass jars, driveway gravel, and coffee filters. Courtney Turk, CEO of Courtney Turk Interiors, believes “a corkboard is a great way to display these goals and easy to change as they evolve. You can even hang your family photos or other sentiments on the board to keep things together and organized.” Turk recommends putting the board “in plain sight so you can be reminded of what you’re working towards.”

Pinterest is also a popular vision boarding tool if you want to expand the natural landscape. Interior Designer and RoomLift CEO Megan Hersch recommends using apps like Houzz or Pinterest to start looking at rooms, collecting the ones you like, and noting the qualities you want to emulate. “If you are working in a common space, consider hanging some different art above the desk so it feels like the space has changed to accommodate your work now. Or choose one wall and add a peel and stick wallpaper running behind your desk, even a strip of it will do!” 

Recommending the Walls Need Love website selection, Hersh, who also provides online home design consultations through her website, offers a link to Walls Need Love. Walls Need Love also has an Etsy shop with really well-designed decals of trees, flowers, and forest landscapes which you can use to begin transforming your home office into a recharge environment based on the principles of biophilic design.

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What Science Says About Turning Your Home into a Haven



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