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April 3, 2015

Doing Good With Wood

I was lucky (and I don't believe in luck).  A canyon filled with dirt, eucalyptus, and assorted reptiles. An unobstructed view of the city of angels and a home filled with wood...wood floors, wood walls, and wood ceilings. Growing up here I was fairly sure that if God had a vacation home, it would be mine.

Still am.

Like most people, I had no idea why it made me feel so comfortable, it was just home. I didn't know it could lower my blood pressure (what blood pressure?), reduce my resting heart rate (that sounds boring!), or relax my prefrontal cortex (can't relax something that isn't even developed yet, right?).

But thanks to some nifty neuroscientific discoveries, what we knew all along was probably good for us, actually is.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Ester Sternberg in her inspiring book, Healing Spaces, The Science of Health and Well-being, speaks about the importance of bringing this essential element into public spaces such as hospitals and other places of care to help speed healing and promote cognitive health.

In their book, Your Brain on Nature, Selhub and Logan engage in the dialogue about the importance that nature and, in specific, forests have on the psyche. Shinrin-yoku, known as Forest Bathing, has taken on international importance in places like Japan where down time is at a premium, but stress is at an all time high.

Photo courtesy of

Now, no one is saying we should replace the health benefits that are derived from being outdoors. The healing properties of cypress, the benefits of negative ions at the beach, the vitamin D of sunshine, but what can we do to supplement this in our own home?

Well, it's easier than you think!

~Warm to the touch. When thinking about additions to your home, opt for natural wood table tops for dining and desks. The energy from the wood helps with focus and peace of mind. Tabletops (like people) only get better and softer to the touch with age (provided that they get loved regularly). Consider replacing your breakfast bar with a piece of live edge reclaimed wood. No better way to start your morning!

Photo courtesy of

~Look around and take stock of what already exists in your home. Chances are the answer might be right underfoot.

Don't discount the warmth, comfort, and convenience of wood floors.

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Aim for a wood with the most natural elements and the least amount of chemical applications. Think water based poly for your top coat. Recycled and reclaimed woods are a wonderful option to keep wood out of the landfill and extend the history.

We are currently remodeling our mudroom and using old barn wood for our shelving. When we bought our siding the vendor warned us that it might be troublesome wood because it had been removed from a barn that was thought to be haunted. We are pleased to report that our wood has been nothing but cooperative, and we do enjoy the idea of it having a life beyond the current.

~Surround yourself. Gone are the days of faux wood paneling, but very in is the idea of using wood on your walls. I have a client right now that is using horizontal plank barnwood loosely place so to allow Ben Moore's Van Deusen Blue to peek through beneath. The effect is stunning.

Here is the staggered look used on one of our favorite local cafe's, Good Karma

Photo courtesy of Good Karma Cafe, Exeter, NH

Ben Moore Historical HC 156

~And don't forget to look up. There is nothing as comforting as wood on the ceiling. I was at a house that a realtor was showing recently and she remarked what a joy it was to show this house. She had no idea what it was, but she would go out of her way to show it. She just couldn't help but want to be within it's walls. The moment I walked in, I knew what it was. The ceilings and beams were blanketed with the most beautiful, natural pine. You could smell the sweetness. It was like a big hug, the kind where you can rest your head into someone's chest and get a little rub on the back kind of hug.

For my barn reno, we knew the importance of maintaining the integrity and history of the space. It also just made sense that this family room would have that safe and protected feeling by keeping the surrounding wood.

photo courtesy of

And who wouldn't believe that this bedroom is absolutely dreamy with the natural wood canopy and truly inspired LED lighting nestled within.

Photo courtesy of  

Get outside, bath yourself in a forest or two and then bring the woods indoors. It'll seem natural.

For more inspiration, click here to link up to my Pinterest board and take dip in some truly soothing designs.

In good design health,

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Clients who have experienced the transformative power of healthy interior design

Renee possesses a rare combination of artistic creativity and intuitive design. Her warmth and compassion extended beyond working with us to understanding the style and feel of our home and how we live in it. We felt fortunate to work with and get to know Renee and absolutely love the updates she made to our home- from windows and walls to artwork and furniture!

Jim P.

Renee is an absolutely wonderful designer. Very talented and easy to work with! She will transform your room or outdoor space into exactly what you want, only better!

Karen S.

Talented, creative, dedicated, great communicator. Renee is such a special person.

Marla W.

We have worked with Renee Carman at this company for almost 2 years. Renee is professional, personable, and a pleasure to know. She is very helpful and will go the extra mile to please her clients. Renee has excellent expertise and knowledge of interior design. We have a beautiful home and highly recommend her.

Lisa W.

Renee possesses a rare combination of artistic creativity and intuitive design.  Her warmth and compassion extended beyond working with us to understanding the style and feel of our home and how we live in it.  We felt fortunate to work with and get to know Renee and absolutely love the updates she made to our home- from windows and walls to artwork and furniture!

Kate S.

Renee was a pleasure to work with and has great vision. We were doing a total rehab of a recently purchased property and she was able to look at a gutted out '50s cottage and turn it into a beautiful mid-century modern home. She understood our budget and timeline and was good about narrowing all our options down to just a few choices. This expedited the process, made it less difficult and more enjoyable. Once the rehab is done, we look forward to working with her again and finish the rest of the rooms.

Bill H.

Renee at Mandeville Canyon Interior Design was simply wonderful to work with. She was able to understand what we were looking for in terms of color, function and design from the moment we first spoke. She's easy to work with, goes above and beyond and delivers an outstanding design.

I highly recommend Renee and Mandeville Canyon Interior Design. I don't think I will attempt to decorate another room in my house without the help of Renee!

Pam O.

Love working with Renee and Mandeville Canyon Interior Design ! I had the opportunity to collaborate on a large scale design project recently and the results were fantastic! Creative, resourceful and one of kind design ideas made this design opportunity with Renee "one of a kind" Have a large or small project? You won't be disappointed!!

Mary S.

Renee not only has an amazingly creative eye, she also directed a massive renovation for us this past year that included the challenges of operating during the pandemic. She put together a team that had an incredible work ethic and brought the project in on-time and on-budget. She's a great listener. When we threw ideas at her, she was never dismissive; quite the contrary, she made them better. Her patience, attention to detail combined with her whacky sense of humor meant we were all able to smile while producing a home that we love. A great talent and a great lady.

Ann R.

Rene is amazing!  Great customer care and wonderful attention to detail.

Holly M.