Designed to heal

Interior design, particularly for wellness spaces, is not just about making a space beautiful or functional. There is actually a science to wellness-based design. And (whether you have an integrative medicine office, an acupuncture clinic, chiropractic practice, or therapy office), utilizing a wellness-based design system will attract more clients and help both you and your employees be more productive and happy.

With over 30 years of experience, we at Zen Spaces are experts in wellness-based design, and we specialize in creating healthy, non-toxic spaces for wellness practitioners to serve their clients.

Does your wellness office provide a supportive, safe, nurturing environment that your customers will want to visit time and time again? Here are some of our expert tips on how you can get started in creating a specialized space for your business.

Relax with Nature

During the workday, people experience fatigue caused by a depletion of physical and mental resources. Your waiting room can be a restorative space to rejuvenate both your clients and employees.

Natural patterns, materials, and colors, along with plants and natural light have been linked to a multitude of health benefits including:

-Decreased blood pressure levels

-Increased attention capacity

-Increased psychological well-being

Incorporating natural features like water into the design of a space relieves stress, promotes job satisfaction, and enhances job performance.

Now more than ever, as we spend an even greater amount of time indoors than ever before, people crave natural light and ventilation. Exposure to natural light has even been proven to have a substantial impact on mood, circadian heath, and productivity. For these reasons, consider adding windows, doors, or louvers that can open to your wellness space.

Keep Things Clean

Patients visiting your office can unknowingly track harmful contaminants indoors. These include germs, bacteria, heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxins. Adding an entryway walk-off system composed of grilles and grates will reduce the amount of harmful materials brought indoors by your visitors, and utilizing a design with slots will allow for easy cleaning underneath.

High touch surfaces such as wall-to-wall carpeting, light switches and elevator buttons can also harbor a high number of microbes, pathogens and toxins for extended periods of time. You can eliminate this problem by replacing materials on these surfaces with smooth-jointed, non-porous materials.

Using buttons and switches that are coated with or composed of a material that is abrasion-resistant, non-leaching and meets EPA testing requirements for antimicrobial activity will also facilitate easy cleaning and reduce the need for cleaning products that contain potentially toxic chemicals.

Another way to reduce the number of contaminants in your environment is to encourage handwashing. You can encourage your patients, employees and other guests to wash their hands by providing an ample quantity of sinks and soap within the space.

If you offer tap water to clients and employees, regularly treat all drinking water sources with an activated carbon filter to remove organic chemicals and a sediment filter to remove suspended solids.

Combating Toxic Materials

Be aware that various chemicals are used in the fabrication of many building materials including flooring, ceiling tiles, wall coverings, insulation and more. Their off-gassing is associated with respiratory neurobehavioral issues and can bioaccumulate in our body’s fat, resulting in food chain contamination. Remove any toxic materials and replace them with materials that meet the following criteria:

a. Have a Declare: Living Building Challenge Red List Free, Declare: Living Building Challenge Compliant, or Living Product Challenge label.

b. Are Cradle to Cradle Certified products with a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum level in the Material Health category, or products with a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum level Material Health Certificate from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

c. Have no GreenScreen Benchmark 1, List Translator 1, or List Translator Possible 1 substances over 1,000 ppm, as verified by a qualified Ph.D. toxicologist or Certified Industrial Hygienist.

Worried about the toxic chemicals found in your walls or furniture, but don’t want to tear down walls or replace furniture? Paint over your existing walls or furniture with non-toxic primer and paint that will lock in the VOC’s and keep the harmful chemicals away from your clients and employees (and yourself)!


Proper ventilation is crucial for ensuring that your space is healthy and nurturing for anyone who enters it. Adding plants and filtration systems can help by counteracting VOC’s found in paints, finishes, insulation, and furnishings, as well as by decreasing combustion byproducts, airborne particulate matter, bacteria, and mold spores.

Buildings in close proximity to high-traffic roads or manufacturing plants have higher counts of VOCs and should especially consider adding a carbon filtration or air sanitizing system for optimal air quality.

For natural air purification and a touch of outdoor charm, you should add one plant for every 100 square feet of your wellness space.

Beware of exhaust from bathrooms, janitorial closets and chemical storage areas circulating through your building. These rooms should be enclosed with self-closing doors separating them from adjacent spaces to prevent harmful vapors from tracking through your space. Janitor closets can be a source of harmful vapors that lead to health complications, and bathrooms can produce mold and mildew that trigger asthma and allergies.

Inadequate indoor ventilation, especially in humid climates, can foster the development of mold and spores, so it is important to keep the air in your building clean. Your clients (and your building) will thank you for it!

Another way to improve air quality is to choose a radiant heating system which not only saves floor space in comparison to forced air systems, but reduces dust transportation, and increases comfort through the separation of temperature controls and outdoor air supply systems. With the use of radiant heating, the average radiant temperature in a space can be kept lower compared to convective heating, providing the benefit of a slightly higher relative humidity in winter.

Keep a Calm Environment

One of the primary elements of mindfulness and wellness is peace. In order to truly nurture your clients’ and employees’ wellness, noisy equipment should be separated from client areas. Walls with appropriate insulation and construction detailing will help mitigate sound transmission between rooms. Doors can be fitted with gaskets, sweeps and a non-hollow core for further noise reduction.

High ceilings are a gorgeous design feature that often come with the unfortunate increase in indoor noise levels. Ceiling clouds, baffles and sound masking systems will allow you to reduce the echo while still appreciating the architectural design of your space. But remember, a completely silent space can be just as distracting as a loud one, so it is important to find a healthy balance. Incorporating a sound system so that relaxing music can be played in the background is highly recommended.

Our sense of smell can also trigger both positive and negative emotions. Using aromatherapy in a space can not only help our physical health, but it can also have us recall enjoyable memories that make us feel safe and nurtured. Many high-end hotels and spas employ this technique.

The team at Zen Spaces doesn’t only design your space. We are also licensed architects and construction managers, and can take care of everything from concept through construction completion so that you can focus on your calling.