Like many moms-to-be, Victoria Di Iorio became more concerned about chemical exposures when she was pregnant with her first child. It didn't help that at the same time, her husband, a contractor, was routinely coming down with mysterious illnesses after visiting construction sites.
"I watched my husband go into a newly built home, cover his nose and eyes with his sleeve, and when he came back out his eyes were completely bloodshot," Di Iorio tells mbg. "As a new mom, I completely freaked out and said, 'This is what's making you sick.'"
Since that 2004 realization, she's made it her mission to design homes that are better for the people building them and the families living in them. Built in collaboration with the American Lung Association, her Healthy Home is the culmination of years of research on building materials, finishes, and furniture that put the environment and human health first.
"It's a living, breathing model of what a healthy home should look like," Di Iorio says. She defines a healthy space as one that does not pump any unnecessary chemicals into the air and makes it easy for its inhabitants to disconnect from the stressors of daily life. It takes popular features and gadgets like zero-VOC paint and built-in HEPA air filters up a notch: The 5 acres the home sits on are protected wetlands free of pesticides, and the landscaping will promote interaction with the outdoors. All of the home's bedrooms have a "goodnight switch," which shuts off all the electricity in the room for sleep that's completely uninterrupted.
Di Iorio worked with local interior designers to fill the space with better-for-you furniture and accessories. Beyond that, the home is stocked with food, beauty, and cleaning products that complement any healthy lifestyle.
"It will have everything from toothbrushes and toothpaste to cosmetics and skin care. It shows the holistic nature of healthy living." Opening today on a quiet suburban street in Inverness, Illinois, about an hour outside Chicago, the home will serve a solely educational purpose for the months to come. Anyone can pay $20 (that will go toward the American Lung Association) to tour the space and pick up ideas that they can implement at home. "We want to show simple things every person can do in their own homes if they never build or renovate a home."
Here's hoping that this health-first design becomes the norm for our built spaces. As mbg stresses with our You. We. All mantra, true wellness is a community affair, after all.