Published on October 5, 2019

Anyone who decides to redecorate their home does so with the intention of creating their own personal haven—but Ezz Wilson took to this task with more motivation than most. As a holistic designer, she designed her house in Portland, Oregon, to put her health—mental and physical—first. 

After learning about holistic design while studying public health, Wilson started to apply her findings to her own living space gradually. It’s a process, after all. “It’s about trying to create a home that supports the mind, body, and spirit—and accomplishing that within your financial means without stressing yourself out about doing things perfectly,” she says. “These changes really do take time, and some are expensive and not within the realm of possibility for everyone, but every little bit helps.”

Wilson’s approach melds various traditions. She incorporates biophilic design, which aims to bring nature inside as much as possible, and Ayurveda, an ancient Indian health system that divides people into doshas, or mind-body types: vata, pitta, and kapha. Wilson also prioritizes buying ethically sourced home goods whenever possible, and, ultimately, works to make sure that every space simply feels right.

Years later, Wilson’s house is a cohesive mix of warm colors and earthy textures—minimalism made extra-cozy. Arranged with her and her husband’s wellness needs top of mind, it’s the place where they feel most at ease. Here, she walks us through the steps she took to create her holistic sanctuary.

She Figured Out Her Ideal Color Palette

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While decorating isn’t exactly an official branch of Ayurvedic medicine, color therapy is one of its components. It’s cold and dreary most of the time in Portland. Even if the heater is on at home, it just felt bone-chilling to me. So once I started learning more about Ayurveda, I decided I needed something that warmed me visually. 

I’m very much a vata type and can generally benefit from warming, grounding, and calming colors, since I tend to be easily chilled and more cerebral. Vatas typically are very mentally active, so I really don’t like to be visually overstimulated. I prefer my home to be serene, comforting, and cozy with a more neutral and earthy color palette. Once I started incorporating those burnt sienna tones into the house, it felt more nourishing and nurturing to me.

She Made Investments for Her Health

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In the past few years, I’ve had to address what’s in my house in a much more concrete way because of health issues. I have a genetic mutation called MTHFR—it’s not uncommon. It creates problems with detoxification, so I have to be extra-careful about what I put in my body and what I surround myself with. I started working with an environmental doctor to help my body heal at home. 

I replaced my old traditional mattress with a natural latex one that doesn’t contain chemicals and wasn’t sprayed with fire retardants. There are so many toxic chemicals in many mattresses! I also got a high-quality air filter from Austin Air; a lot of other air filters leak allergens back into the air. Since we spend about a third of our life in bed, it was really important that I made my room a place that wasn’t burdening my body while I’m restoring and rebuilding at night.

She Shopped Mindfully

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I decided to be more conscientious about where my furniture and decor comes from, who made it, and the social impact of that. Buying vintage was an easy way to practice this, but I also needed some new pieces, like a bed frame. At the time I started thinking about this, there wasn’t a lot out there, and there’s still a huge gap; in the fashion industry, there has definitely been more of a push for transparency with regard to labor and materials, but I haven’t seen that reflected as much in homewares. 

I’m definitely not perfect in this area, but these are topics that I want to continue to think and talk about, even when it feels inconvenient and boring. A lot of new furnishings do contain chemicals like formaldehyde and toxic glues, so I can’t avoid them completely, but there are things you can do to combat them. Snake plants are great at sucking up formaldehyde!

She Chose Natural Materials

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We spend 90 percent of our time indoors these days, so I try to fill the house with natural materials to help let a little of the outdoors in and give the space a feeling of grounded calm. Besides bringing plants and dried flowers into my home, I also use materials such as wood, rattan, bamboo, linen, organic cotton, clay, and glass.

She Reconfigured Awkward Layouts

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I love my living room because it’s the simplest part of my house. There’s so much white and beige—it feels like a little spa corner. That’s where I go  to reset. It was a really difficult space to decorate; the dining and living rooms are connected. It’s one long narrow area—it’s just awkward. I literally stood at my front door, looking at it with my hands on my hips for, like, a year! It was so frustrating trying to decide where to put the furniture. Finally, it clicked for me and I figured out the couch and the chairs. Everything just started falling into place and that domino-ed into the rest of the house.

For Wilson, home is where the good vibes are.

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