Our homes are in some ways very much like our bodies. A healthy body takes fine tuning and preventative care, and so does a healthy house. And just like bodies, our homes are unique in the sense that each home has variables that another home may not have. Each home, even if built by the same builder, will have to be cared for in slightly different ways.
This is all what makes our homes so beautiful to each of us, but also it causes challenges. Many of us would love a quick step by step to do list that will help us create a healthy home. The truth is, this does exist in some fashion, but a healthy house is often created through some diagnosis and assessments of the specific home you live in.
This doesn’t even take into account the uniqueness of each of us, our family’s needs, our financial situation and how much time we have to make healthy changes. All of these things come into play when you’re creating a healthy home, and so a one-size-fits-all approach often doesn’t work.
It’s the exact reason I work with families’ one on one to create individual plans and it’s why I’ve created my course The Healthy Home Blueprint. Each of these routes to a healthy house will help you identify what’s going on, create a plan and then execute each step that has been tailored to your own home.
ALL HOMES ARE UNIQUE
Homes have so many similarities, especially when it comes to similar eras of homes or home’s in the same areas. But really each and every home is going to be unique in some of these ways:
Size: Larger homes require different attention than homes that are small and cozy. A larger home might require additional ways to increase ventilation in order to reduce air toxins. And a smaller home may need additional help reducing high humidity levels that can be common in small spaces. Each home will have challenges like these and each size home will also have positive benefits depending on the square footage of the space.
Age: How old a home is could be the BIGGEST factor in a home’s uniqueness. A home built last year in comparison to a home built in 1920 essentially has 100 years of differences between them. One of the biggest things that has changed over time is toxic materials. Older homes may still have very toxic materials inside like lead, asbestos, PCBs and even mercury. These toxins have long since been removed from our building materials (for the most part), and so the risk of these toxins in new homes is practically non-existent.
In comparison, homes built more recently have such energy efficient components that the homes barely let any fresh air inside the home. This can cause an extremely unhealthy home space as toxins can build up to unsafe levels within the home.
Layout: There are all sorts of home layouts from ramblers to traditional two stories and multilevel homes. Each of these styles will make the home unique in the sense that air flow will be different in each type of home. A home with a full basement or a multi level home with bedrooms on the lowest level will need to be more aware of radon levels in their area. A traditional two story home with bedrooms on the upper level may have a harder time getting air flow to those rooms and keeping them cool in the summer.
There’s no one layout that is ideal for homes because a lot of the time the layout has to also be favorable for your lifestyle and family needs as well. Depending on the layout of your home, you’ll need to just be aware of different issues that could arise due to the floorplan.
Location: Another HUGE way homes differ is based on WHERE they are located. This can be thought of in terms of where they are in the country (obviously the climate in Texas is very different from the climate in Oregon). But it can also be thought of in terms of location just around your city and state. For example, my home is built on land that at one time was a marsh, meaning we have challenges with keeping our basement dry and have had to make sure we were very diligent about preventative care.
In comparison, other homes that are just a few minutes from us are on very dry land and soil with very little concern for moisture. That being said, some homes are in areas near oceans, which means preventing any sort of water or corrosion in the house is a huge challenge. And then there are homes that have to survive both hot summers and frigid winters. The location of the home will determine how you keep moisture away, if radon levels are high and if the home will need to be protected both summer and winter.
ALL FAMILIES AND OWNERS ARE UNIQUE
And just like our homes, the needs of homeowners and families are all unique when it comes to healthy homes.
Health Needs: Some families will need to focus on a MUCH more toxin free space and some families may be completely fine with a low toxin living plan. Either way, both are great, but just know that your family may require fewer toxins inside due to asthma, allergies or autoimmune disorders than other families. That’s okay! The important thing is to know WHAT it is that your family needs and what steps you need to take to create a healthy home that works for you.
Ages: Kids are so much more affected by toxins than adults are (usually). Kids’ systems are much less developed, their musculoskeletal system is thinner and their size is obviously smaller than adults. Not only do kids come into contact with a higher volume of toxins based on their weight, they’re bodies don’t detox it as quickly as adults.
In the same breath, older individuals with already taxed systems due to age may also have greater sensitivities to indoor toxins. An older individual might be more affected by certain toxins that burden the body as their systems don’t function on quite as high of a level.
Budget: This is SUCH an important part of low toxin living that we don’t talk about often, but I think is SO important. Your budget for your home and your lifestyle make a HUGE difference. Financial disparities cause stress, which is also toxic for our bodies. So while creating a healthy home may be amazing for your indoor air quality, if it creates a financial burden that you just can’t handle, your body will be under a new type of stress, causing a burden to your body.
The trick is to know JUST what you CAN spend and then choose a project or item that will have the greatest impact on the health of your home.
HOW TO ASSESS YOUR HOME & LIFESTYLE
One thing that I work through with all my clients in The Healthy Home Blueprint is just how to assess your home. If you don’t know what you need to change or want to change or what your budget is, you’ll likely never make the right or best change for your home. Creating a healthy home often has to be very intentional, and these are the best ways to go about it.
Budget & Time: Again, you have to assess just how much you’re able to spend and also how much time a particular change is going to take. A change that is a huge renovation may not be feasible for you right now, but maybe changing out all your plastic water bottles is. Both of these changes are positive and point you in the right direction. Assess just how much of both time and money you have to do a particular project. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it ever, it may mean it’s a project for down the road. And in the meantime, you can make other small, intentional changes for your space.
Ease of Change: Let’s face it, when it comes to habits, there are some things that are much easier to change than others. If a habit is going to be difficult to remember, or difficult to get your whole family on board with, it may not be the change you need to make in your healthy home right now. And then there are some changes that you know are just not going to be in the cards at the moment. For example, medical needs might trump a change that most families can make, but you can’t. That’s okay! Do your best with the changes you CAN make and focus on those with positivity.
Moving or Staying: Another huge consideration is if you’ll be staying in your home long term or if your plans are to move. There’s no sense in spending money on an improvement that is very specific to your family when you may not see the return on it come selling time. Make sure that you’re making changes to your space that will give you a return if you’re planning to sell. If you’re there for the long haul, then by all means, make the changes you want to your healthy home.
Environmental Testing: Having your home tested for different environmental toxins and concerns may be one of the BEST ways to determine WHAT route you need to go and what to make a priority with your changes. A home that tests positive for mycotoxins and mold is going to prioritize completely different habits and changes than a home who has sky high VOC levels. And without knowing exactly what is causing your home to be unhealthy, you won’t be able to make a positive change to truly take care of an issue.
You can find testing through at home kits or with myself to help you understand what needs to be done in your space.
HOW TO CURATE YOUR OWN HEALTHY HOME PLAN
And the purpose of ALL of this is to create your own healthy home tailored to your needs and your specific type of home. No two homes are exactly the same, and so no plan is going to be identical in nature to yours.
High Impact Changes: My favorite way to make a priority list for changes to your healthy home (and I’m talking pots and pans to flooring here) is to look at the tasks, habits or changes that will have the HIGHEST impact on your space’s health or your body’s health. For example, changing out your mattress is going to have a much bigger impact than getting an organic throw for your couch. Why? Because you’re on your mattress between 7-9 hours a day, where a blanket on the couch may be used for just a short period of time in some seasons.
Look at areas you spend the most time and items that you’re in the closest proximity to around your house. These are areas where you can make a really positive change.
Low Cost Changes: I’m all about changing anything I can that doesn’t cost me anything at all but my time or self control. Making dusting and vacuuming a consistent habit is something that doesn’t cost me anything at all, but it still reduces toxins inside my space in a very efficient way. Opening a window is another thing I can do without spending anything, and yet it improves my indoor air quality. A healthy home doesn’t have to be something that we’ve created with the most expensive changes and materials. You can start small and start with low cost changes that will still have a huge impact while you work towards some of the bigger steps in your healthy home journey.
Largest Surface Area: Large surface areas (like flooring and walls) are great areas to focus on. Flooring is such a great change to make in a home because often you’ll be removing flooring (such as carpet) that is extreme, meaning you’re taking out toxins from the majority of the rooms in your home all at one time. Honing in on areas of your home that you can make one change, but change a lot is a huge benefit to your healthy home. You can easily make a list of things that will make a bigger impact because of the sheer surface area of the space.
The “Moving Forward” Approach: The moving forward approach is based on the idea that as you need to replace products, furniture or components of your home you do it with the health of your home in mind. So next time your kiddo needs a new lunch box or a new water bottle, commit to replacing it with a low toxin option that you’ve already researched. Next time you need more bathroom cleaner, make sure you’ve done the work ahead of time and chosen a plant based, healthy cleaner. The idea works for just about any area in the home, you just have to do the research ahead of time so you’re ready to make a healthy purchase when the time comes.
Work with Me: Coming in early 2023 (like in just over a month), I’m planning a live video training that will cover some of these key areas of a healthy home. This is for anyone — and free — no matter where you are or what your home is like. You’ll be able to harness the benefits of a healthy living space and ditch toxins without frustration, guilt or confusion. This class will cover a few of the same ideas and techniques I use when I consult with families to create their healthiest spaces and it’s a great building block for anyone who’s already gotten started as well as an amazing place to start for a beginner. Make enter your email here to get an invite.
No matter what type of home you have or what type of needs your family requires, you can create a healthy home that is customized to your space. By using these techniques to start planning, you’ll be able to create your very own healthy house on the block without being overwhelmed.