With the Whole Home Project, CQ and a team of sponsors set out to prove that a dream house can be more than pretty: It should help you live your very best life.
There's an essential secret to a happy life that was well known even 150 years ago: Make your home a sanctuary of self-care, and you'll never have to look elsewhere for happiness. In the early 1870s, when the man behind the nom de plume Mark Twain was building his house in Connecticut, he and his wife, Olivia, had two special directives for their architect: a conservatory for their riotous houseplants, and a third-floor billiards room that would double as an office (the original man cave?). So today, ask yourself, what exactly are you doing at home to live your best life? With all the choices available—from smart light switches for instant relaxation to drugstore face masks—you're now more capable than ever before of designing and stocking your home with an eye toward wellness. It's what Samuel Clemens believed, and what CQ has advocated since 1896: If you design your home well, you'll live well.
With a dedicated team of sponsors and pros (builder Michael Ladisic, architect Linda D'Orazio MacArthur, kitchen-and-bath designer Matthew Quinn, and interior designer Sherry Hart), we built a home in Atlanta from the ground up, including a kitchen engineered to inspire healthy eating and a no-excuse fitness studio. Go ahead: Pick a paint color, a gadget, or a whole frame of mind, and let it help you triumph every day.
It took a village to raise HB's Whole Home Project concept house, but all parties involved agreed that it had to look the part. "Our lives are so hectic and we're constantly bombarded, so we decided to go with the simplest idea of a house," says architect Linda D'Orazio MacArthur of the exterior, which mimics a childlike drawing of a classic house. "We wanted it to be familiar."
Credits: love seat and armchair, ; desk, coffee table, and side table, , house, built by ; architect, ; insurance,
Living rooms were once buttoned-up dens of frosty detachment, but ours is as warm as a mug of piping-hot mulled cider. We ratcheted up the homey and welcoming cues, which are felt viscerally in the elevated-folksy and the prime-spot-for-everyone, 8-foot-long sofas. This room pumps up your pleasure at every turn.
Credits: accordion-style door,
This sunlit dining room is a stylish shape-shifter. Instead of a single surface, we opted for two tables that can be used in tandem, to seat eight, or separately, as kids' and adults' tables or dinner and home-work stations. Designer Sherry Hart picked the bell-jay lanterns for their shimmering warmth—appropriate for a fete or just weeknight grain bowls—that casts all in a glamorous, photogenic glow.
Credits: vintage china and crystal, ; dining table,
In a space typically reserved for a dining room, we created this workout studio and meditation pad—because when your gym is two seconds from the kitchen, you're more likely to put down the chips and roll out a yoga mat. A brings the trainer to you, and double as sculpture. Meditation cushions await for when a 10-minute head-clearing is more vital than a good sweat, but in case you do perspire, the daybed seating is a resilient leather.
Builder Michael Ladisic believes in the life-changing power of natural daylight—because he's living it. "I built my house to be flooded with light, and it has totally transformed my family's mental state," he says. Here, light is maximized with clever window placements, such as a dramatic two-story expanse at the stairwell—a traditional spin on the modernist walls of Philip Johnson's Glass House—and with the ingenious lighting system , which tunes in to your home's rhythms and can dim and brighten bulbs based on lighting habits.
Year-round on-demand fresh herbs? No, it's not a new start-up, but the idea behind an in-kitchen grow room designer Matthew Quinn devised for this healthy kitchen. Clipping micro-greens is almost as fun as letting the touch faucet precision-measure three cups of water for a batch of farro. Over at the range, the built-in sous vide preps healthy proteins and more, locking in nutrients. Foods come out so tender and flavorful, it's practically a party trick.
Credits: cabinets ; countertops,
On the premise that "the most convenient it is to grab something, the more likely you are to do it," Quinn brought back the cold larder to put healthy choices in plain sight. "Root cellars are typically in a dark, gross basement," Quinn notes. But at kitchen level, this preservation room is glammed up and on display, showing off pre-portioned snacks (like washed strawberries, apples, and mini peppers) along-side potatoes, onions, grains, and jars of pickled deliciousness, all stored at the ideal temperature for longevity. "And 58 degrees also happens to be perfect for storing red wine!" Quinn says. Aesthetically pleasing baskets and bins (those farm-life touches have a spot in our soul) move from garden or market to home—reusable and highly Instagrammable. Elsewhere in the space, a wall of light makes dish duty a joy.
Pro tip: Performing a routine task slowly—while taking in the sounds, scents, and feeling of it—is considered a mindfulness activity. Clean the dishes, clear your head.
To fret less and breathe more, consider the delivery shed, a closer or bin with a , an app-enabled padlock that allows designated shippers (like FedEx) to drop off packages securely. No more panicking about a parcel left on the porch! Likewise, pet parents report higher life satisfaction than those without them; to keep it that way, add an architecturally A+ doggy door that leads to the yard.
Also convenient: a half pocket door. "I love that I could put my pup in here when she's muddy, close the half door, and know she's not behind a closed wall," Hart says. Soaping up pets in a canines-only tub-and-shower combo takes pressure off your back—no stooping necessary. Bonus: A dedicated washer/dryer is ideal for tossing in first-floor laundry like dog beds, dish towels, and gym clothes.
A bedroom that's one part restful, one part seductive is a tall order—and not at all abetted by screen time or clutter. These anti-aphrodisiacs are common in the modern bedroom, says Elana Kilkenny, an intuitive space designer who suggests nixing the gadgets and adding passionate hues (hello, raspberry headboard and red-trimmed bedding!) that comes alive in low light. The canopy, a boutique-hotel staple, triggers feelings of an away-from-it-all escape, while the sofa promotes relationship-enhancing conversation.
Credits: grille, ; mattress, ; headboard and bench, ; canopy, ; rug,
Without the teams of masseuses and facialists, five-star spas are essentially just glamorized bathrooms. So what's to stop you from creating that indulgent retreat at home? Quinn's master bathroom started with womb-like barrel-vaulted ceiling, modeled on a hammam. The rain showerheads pump air into the water, so you use less H2O without forfeiting pressure. Glimmering mirrorlike surfaces and a candle complete the ambience. "This is clearly a retreat," Quinn says. "It's ethereal and cloud-like when you're in there." Cue up Lakmé's "Flower Duet!"
Credits: tile, ; fixtures,
Calm starts here. If you look organized, you'll feel organized, and your closet—domain of treasured possessions, the things that represent you to the world—is telling. (There's a reason Marie Kondo says to start with clothes!). This space, outfitted by , puts your things in order so your life follows suit. There's utility: a compact, freestanding steamer that reduces wrinkles and odors and refreshes creases on pants. And also beauty: When your wardrobe looks like a boutique, you're bound to enjoy it.
With imagination and free play as the tenets for the children's quarters, the adults in the room agreed on one thing: a hideaway in plain sight. "My kids loved The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe," MacArthur says. "So we had a thought, What if the hall closet had a hidden ladder to a secret attic space?" (There's also adult access to the playroom through a bedroom loft.) The impulse that makes kids hide out behind sofas and erect pillow forts also makes them love these clandestine modern eaves.
Nowhere in HB's Whole Home concept house is the good energy more free-flowing than on the open-air porch, amid a leafy canopy (and Benjamin Moore Gumdrop paint). Listening to Carolina wrens chirp and the breeze rustle trees is a mini version of the Japanese concept of Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing—taking in natural surroundings as a powerful form of mental and physical therapy. When you're ready to reengage, the gas fireplace offers primal entertainment. And yes, the 65-inch probably has the game on, but if you still want to feel calm, choose Gallery Mode instead. Cultured, relaxed, and energized—all within the comforts of home.
Credits: outdoor furniture, ; ceiling paint, ; fixtures,