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Decorating & Design

July 28, 2020

Toronto designer Alicia Ruach knows the importance of having a space to unwind and relax in at the end of a long day. As a former competitive athlete and sports executive for special events, Alicia makes it her mission to create interiors that not only look good but feel good, too. We are spending more time than ever in our spaces, which sheds light on the importance of incorporating health and wellness in every room of the home. We asked Alicia to break down what holistic design really means and share her tips for turning your bathroom, bedroom, living room, home office or entryway into a calming retreat.


“Often we focus all of our attention on the common areas of our homes and neglect the more private areas like the bathroom,” says Alicia. “Paying more attention to personal spaces where we relax and re-energize is a staple of holistic design. Bring the outdoors in by using natural and eco-friendly materials, and add humidity-loving plants to create a restful and relaxing retreat. The benefits of taking a bath can be simulated in the shower by creating a therapeutic experience with massage and hydrotherapy shower heads and jets, as well as aromatherapy sprays. This can help with relief from aches, pains, stress and allergies.”


“We spend nearly one third of our lives asleep, and the quality of this rest period impacts our energy levels during the day,” she says. “Your bed is the most important piece of furniture, so select a mattress that provides good support for the body and spine. Opt for eco-friendly and natural materials on the floor, walls, bedding and window treatments, which is essential for your health and wellness. Mattresses and bedding made from organic natural fibres will allow the skin to breathe and will not give off harmful toxic fumes called VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds). Organic materials are also helpful for asthmatic sufferers and those who have allergies to house dust mites.”

The design and color scheme of the bedroom will also have a physical and psychological effect. First, decide the feeling and mood you want to create — it could be fresh, luxurious, calming or warm.

  • Blues and greens are very relaxing for the mind.
  • Shades of pink help calm unwanted emotions and nerves.
  • Violet, deep blue and magenta can create a sense of safety as well as promote vivid dreams.

Bold geometric designs or large bold patterns stimulate the mind and can detract from a peaceful atmosphere. Therefore, choosing the right shades and designs in your bedroom will help create the desired mood.”


“Clutter can negatively impact your mental and physical health,” says Alicia. “It can be frustrating and mentally exhausting spending 15 minutes searching for items like car keys that can impact your mood when you are starting your day. This unwanted stress is completely preventable with a few organization and de-cluttering tips at your home’s entry.

  1. Remove any objects that don’t belong.
  2. Set-up a system for organizing mail, include tabletop storage to easily locate keys, phones and other essentials.
  3. Organize the entry closet. If closet space is limited, sort outerwear by season.

Creating a welcoming entry that is appealing, organized and functional will promote more positive energy in the home.”

Living Room

“Our home should represent who we are,” she says. “It should be a place where we feel happiest and most like our true selves. Often we decorate our home to conform to perceived expectations from society which can later make us feel disconnected to our spaces. We should ask ourselves these questions instead:

  • What colors please us?
  • What elements soothe us?
  • What is our cultural background?
  • What are we comfortable doing?
  • What is our lifestyle and day-to-day activities?

The honest answers to these questions will reflect your true self and will help you create a home environment that is inspirational and supports your wellness and lifestyle.

To start, design around a loved piece of furniture or use it as your central source of inspiration. Furniture can remind you of people, special times in our life and other places. By association, we are very subtly and constantly reminded of these connections everyday. Furniture linked to a happy time, place or person will give positive energy to you. However, having an object in your home that you dislike or has a negative association will dampen the energy in your home and reinforce feelings of discomfort, irritation and resentment. Cherish the objects which bring you joy and let go of items you no longer want or need.”

Home Office

“Specific color combinations can promote a sense of harmony and well-being,” says Alicia. “Color therapy is based on the principles of psychology and research into color and light. The colors you use in your environment can relax and heal, balance emotions, aid learning and can be mentally stimulating.

If a room is used by one person more than another, such as a home office, you can experiment with hues that speak to you. For example, this office has pops of color that are lively, creative, joyful and motivating with the use of yellow, orange, violet and red. The space is balanced with a neutral palette in the flooring, walls, wall cabinetry and window treatments to ensure the hues are not overwhelming.”

Author: Victoria Christie


Courtesy of Alicia Ruach Design + Co.


Alicia Ruach Design + Co.

Tags: Canadian Designers Design Advice Design Tips designer tips mental health retreat sanctuary well-being Wellness

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