While you’re probably aware that asbestos and lead-based paint could be lurking in older homes, you may not know about the risk of chemical exposure in even the most modern buildings. Laura Britt, of Britt Design Group, is dedicated to informing clients about these toxins and designing homes that are eco- and wellness-focused. This recent build in Houston, Texas stands as an example of a WELL-designed home.
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Homeowner and client Dr. Maria Cabanillas is an oncologic endocrinologist who treats thyroid cancer, so she’s well aware of the toxicity present in typical home décor and building materials. With this in mind, she sought out an interior design team with an understanding of how to avoid toxins in rugs, furnishings, paint, etc.
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The existing home at the location was torn down, and ReUse People and RePurpose Depot both salvaged building materials in order to minimize waste. In its place, a new 3,738-square-foot home took shape, and then the team from Britt Design Group came in to make sure the interiors met WELL Building Standards for healthy textiles and finishes.
“We were extremely diligent in designing with non-toxic materials to lessen the toxic load in the space,” Britt explained. “All furnishings were carefully vetted to ensure they were healthy and didn’t bring toxins into the home. The client is a well-respected thyroid cancer doctor and is especially cautious about using furnishings with flame retardants, as they are carcinogenic.”
A central architectural element was a connection to the outdoors; this focus led to a seamless link between the main living areas and an outdoor patio space. This allows the family of four to simultaneously enjoy the outdoor organic garden and the nearby kitchen. Similarly, an interior brick fireplace passes through the wall for exterior exposure. An open concept means less walls, yet a reading and meditation nook adds privacy.
To achieve the healthy interiors, the design includes sofas with formaldehyde-free foam as well as down cushions and rugs made from natural materials such as wool, silk, jute and cotton. The team also installed motorized shades for passive temperature control and energy savings.
Photography by Jack Thompson via Britt Design Group