Since the idea of The Green Hearth, I have been super excited to connect homeowners to the design profession and help promote sustainable and healthy design within every home. I wanted to write a post to give my readers an idea of who I am, and what my story is to better help understand my passions.
Chapter 1: I’m a designer
When I was in high school, I took an anatomy class and fell in love. Dissecting things and being the lead dissector during the year was exciting, and I absolutely loved learning about the human body. It literally came to the point where my family assumed I was simply going to go into the medical field – and you know what, as incredibly weird as it sounds now, I was seriously considering it! Only thing was, I was interested in being a medical examiner, not a doctor (turned out, visiting a morgue for a field trip and being hooked on “Dr. G Medical Examiner” left me more intrigued than disgusted).
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with being an interior designer.
I grew up with my mother as an architect – healthcare architect to be specific – and spent many summers visiting my grandfather, a master cabinetry maker, playing in his wood shop; you could say architecture and design are in my blood. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school, after watching an open-heart surgery from inside the operating room, and spending part of my time assessing the finish selections, that the idea of healing people through design and space was what I wanted to do for the rest of my working life. The gore of medicine wasn’t an issue, it was the silent healer – healing through design – that sparked my interest. (The added benefit was that I still had a big toe in the medical field.)
I ended up getting my undergraduate degree in Interior Design, and my masters in Design in Health and Healing Environments; then was incredibly lucky to find a job as a healthcare interior designer with an amazing firm. Since then, I have loved working on a number of hospital projects and including research and sustainability into my designs.
Chapter 2: I’m a researcher
It’s funny, when I was in high school, the thought of learning felt more like a job – forced to do something I wasn’t necessarily interested in. During my undergrad, I finally felt it worth the energy to get to get to class and really focus on the topics. It wasn’t until my masters, however, that “learning” became the most exciting part of my day. I would take an hour shuttle to and from school and spend every minute reading new research articles for my thesis (which I would end up reciting to friends and family later). It is safe to say, that my proudest moment, was passing my defense and completing my thesis – not because I was finished (I could have easily kept going) – but because I was able to share all of the knowledge I gained in those short 3 years with many people.
Today, part of my role at work is being a research champion and resource to those looking to incorporate and integrate research theories into new designs. My two passions in this subject are sensory influences and bactericidal effects/implications – or simply: the five senses (in particular, smell) and germs.
Chapter 3: I’m a homeowner
Back in 2013, shortly after getting hired at my job, and only a few months after graduating with my masters, I found myself signing the final papers and being handed over my first set of keys as a homeowner. I was thrilled to spend 13 months there before moving; unfortunately, I had so many wonderful things planned! I still own the home, even though it’s not my primary residence. I just found that I simply couldn’t leave my desert oasis in the dust.
It does become amusing when I have to fill out paperwork and they ask if I rent or own . . . technically, it’s both!
Chapter 4: I’m a renter
Sometimes, renting can be such a drag – limited to white walls and being a slave to the elements. But, on the other hand, it’s quite blissful to not have to pay for all of the maintenance!
Funny thing about being only given 6 weeks to find a place to live in a city you have never been to, across the country: you see a lot of potential. The place I landed was a for-sure “ah-ha” moment. I walked in (knew it was over my target monthly rent) and realized my personality type was perfect for this apartment. As a homebody, I wanted to make sure that if I was going to live somewhere, I had to feel safe, comfortable, and happy. I do regret the rent amount sometimes, but I simply can’t argue with the amazing view I get every morning. There may be some positives and negatives to renting, but for right now, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!
Chapter 5: I’m a landlord
I sometimes feel like this can be more of an oxymoron: I own a home, but I rent it because I’m renting someone else’s home somewhere else. Although being a landlord is still somewhat new, and can be somewhat difficult being hundreds of miles away, I am glad I have the opportunity to keep my desert oasis. I have learned a few things along the way as a landlord, and I look forward to learning more and being more efficient.
My passions: Sustainability + Research + Design
Since achieving LEED Accredited Professional BD+C in 2005, I have been focused on implementing sustainable design into every project. I believe that we should design to stand, not design by trend; simply meaning that a building (home, hospital, office, etc.) should last longer than the occupants residing in it without harm to them, or the environment around it, and, that this focus should not be considered a phase. It should contain healthy materials that do not off gas toxic chemicals (known as VOCs), and it should promote activity (whether that’s through the encouragement of using a stair vs. an elevator, creating an herb garden for recreation, or simply supporting the use of public and human transportation). I believe research is the greatest tool we have – especially as designers. So much amazing knowledge is out there that can clearly assist in design decisions from accessibility to how color affects a person. Without research, the industry would not have been unable to prove that sustainable design does, in fact, have a positive impact on the human mind and emotion. Design is really the glue that holds sustainability and research together. Without design, we may as well mold everything we have learned through research and case studies to make cookie-cutter buildings. Design is the soul of a building, it should feel like it belongs in its community and have a sense of place. I feel that this blog is only the beginning, and I look forward to the journey ahead with you!
Mr. Dapper helps keep me sane through all my many hobbies and interests.