Look good or feel good? 5 home improvements that let you do both

Who remembers that old Saturday Night Live bit in which Billy Crystal, posing as Lorenzo Lamas, quips that “It’s better to look good than to feel good”? Home improvement can sometimes shake out that way. Some upgrades that look great don’t do a lot for a homeowner’s emotional or physical health. Others, however, can help your home look good and make its inhabitants feel great.

As you’re planning your spring and summer home projects, consider these five improvements that mean you don’t have to choose between looking good and feeling good.

1. Add more natural light.

The health benefits of natural light are well documented, from improving our bodies’ ability to produce vitamin D to helping boost mood and fight seasonal affective disorder. Natural light also enhances virtually any decor, while helping reduce dependence on artificial light and lowering electricity bills.

Adding a skylight is one of the most impactful, cost-effective ways to increase natural light in virtually any room, even those without direct roof access. Energy Star qualified, solar-powered, fresh-air skylights, like those from Velux America, allow homeowners to reap the health and functional benefits of enhanced natural light and fresh air. Boost the energy efficiency and aesthetic appeal of no-leak venting skylights further by adding solar-powered blinds in designer colors and patterns. Solar powered skylights and blinds are operated by a programmable remote control. Both products, plus the installation costs, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit for energy-efficient home improvements. Visit www.veluxusa.com to learn more.

2. Improve your landscaping.

Of course beautiful landscaping makes your home look great, but it can also improve your health in a number of ways. First, if you do your own yard work, you reap the benefit of outdoor exercise, which can help improve cardiovascular and muscle health.

What’s more, plants remove carbon dioxide and particulates from the air, acting as natural purifiers – so your lovely trees and flowers can also help improve your outdoor air quality. If you’re concerned about allergies, choose plants known for producing little or no airborne spores or pollens. Fortuitously, the plants that are the prettiest in your landscaping – those that produce big, showy blossoms – also produce the least amount of pollen, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Finally, don’t overlook the mood-boosting effects of looking at a lush, beautiful landscape. Multiple studies have shown that being surrounded by plants – or even just looking at a picture of a beautiful landscape – can help relieve stress and improve mental states.

3. Repaint with eco-friendly paints.

Painting is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to make a room look good. But some types of paints can release fumes such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, and such fumes have been linked to both short-term and long-term respiratory problems.

To make your room look good and improve how you feel, choose VOC-free paint types. Some manufacturers offer durable interior paints in designer colors that emit no VOCs and give off little or no odor throughout the painting process. You can even find eco-friendly paints that are made from natural ingredients such as plants and minerals. The truly eco-conscious will breathe easier knowing the paint they’ve chosen looks good and that it’s not harmful to their families or environment.

4. Improve ventilation.

An EPA study showed that indoor air quality can be worse than the air outside your home. Poor air quality has been linked to a host of health issues, from respiratory problems to eye irritation, headaches and even depression. Improving the ventilation in your home can help everyone who lives there feel better – and you can do it with style.

Venting skylights are a great way to passively, cost-effectively improve indoor air quality, plus privacy, especially in baths. You can also enhance ventilation and air movement through the use of ceiling fans and exhaust fans. Both types of ventilation enhancers are available in a variety of designs and styles to match virtually any decor.

5. Renovate your kitchen or bathroom.

And the top home improvement that’s good for your home’s beauty, your health and happiness, and home value? Renovating an outdated kitchen or bathroom. The two rooms consistently score highest in terms of return on investment in Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report. It’s widely known that great kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, too – which can be a major stress-reliever if you’ll be putting your home on the market this spring or summer. But updated kitchens and baths can be good for your health in a number of other ways.

High-tech enhancements like touchless faucets and germ-resistant surfaces on countertops and appliances can help thwart the spread of illness-causing germs. Replacing old, deteriorating cabinets and flooring can help reduce mold, mildew and airborne irritants. Adding a water-filtration system at the sink or in a new refrigerator can help improve the taste and healthfulness of drinking water. Additionally, replacing traditional drywall with moisture-resistant gypsum panels can inhibit the growth of mold and mildew.

 


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