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Could Your Home Be Healthier?

From the color of your walls to the temperature on the thermostat, small details can help you live as well outside of the gym as you do in it.

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If you actually thought of your home as a sanctuary, some changes would probably be in order. The way you decorate—from the colors on the walls to the dishware stocked in the cabinets—impacts the way you sleep, eat, and even unwind.

Maxwell Ryan, CEO and founder of the popular home décor site Apartment Therapy, who has made a living helping people transform their homes, knows this better than most. So how do you ensure your precious downtime is spent in an optimal environment? Follow Ryan’s strategies for making your home:

A place that calms . . . 
The tendency to reach for cool colors or neutrals like taupes, grays, and whites is a good one as they’re known to have a soothing effect and can even make the room seem a bit cooler, Maxwell says. Research has shown that the color red, for example, can induce stress, while white and soft shades of green and blue do the opposite. Think about incorporating color in subtle ways—pillows, artwork, or a bold piece of furniture, adds Maxwell.

A place where sleep comes easy . . .
Studies have found that temps between 60 and 68 degrees Farenheit are optimal for snoozing (and also that insomniacs tend to have higher body temps before dozing off than people who sleep easily). To accommodate changing temps, keep a soft throw by the bed in winter, and then switch your sheets for thinner, high-quality linens in the summer, Maxwell recommends.

A place that fuels you . . .
Pair contrasting colors. Try serving carrots in a blue bowl or green veggies with a red napkin, says Maxwell. That’s how food stylists think, but the technique could actually help you enjoy your food more, too: Spanish researchers found that a dark food served on a white plate was rated as 15 to 20 percent sweeter than when it was served on a darker-colored one.
A place that energizes . . .
The items in your bedroom are the first things you’ll see and touch each morning. Appease your senses with fresh flowers on the nightstand or a shag rug for your feet right as you wake, says Maxwell. Stock up on candles with scents like jasmine, peppermint, and cinnamon—research has linked all these smells to increased alertness and energy.

A place that people want to be . . .
Multitudes of research has found that friends and family are crucial to well-being—social networks can improve mood, shorten recovery time from illness and help fend off disease. So make your home a place people want to visit. The right lighting is one of the most overlooked elements in a home, but it can completely transform the look and feel of a room, says Maxwell. “Most homeowners use compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs that can give off a gray-ish, dull light that limits a room’s ambiance,” says Maxwell. Instead, use Cree LED bulbs that emit a more natural, warm and inviting glow. The bulbs are dimmable, so you can set the mood for a family gathering or cocktails with friends, Maxwell says.

Photos by French by Design