I became specifically aware of how important our home is for healing while I was recovering from eight months of chemotherapy for stage 3 triple-negative breast cancer. I would come home hyper from the steroids and then the inevitable super crash and the crazy fears that cause the roller coaster of emotions that is so common and often unexpected. I retreated to my house and yard and became super aware of my surroundings. After all those years of design, nothing made me more in tune with my environment. I needed my home to help me. I would lie there exhausted with all my senses wide open and hear myself: “What is that awful smell?” or “What is that noise?” “I need a plant right there.” I had time to read too, and I discovered how important environment is in healing. I just kept tweaking my house and writing more. It was like a design camp! When I finally went in remission, I used that sensitivity in my design. I became so much more sensitive to how we actually live, I recognized how many people were exactly like me—completely taking my home for granted. It’s my family’s home base. Our burrow. Our nest. Our cave.
Design + wellness
The first place to start when you’ve committed to living a green or wellness life is the location of your property. What is the air quality? Is it close to electrical poles? How is your commute for work? Are there any beautiful trees? You can control so many aspects today with air and water filters; you can control lighting and sound and smells.
Lessons from cancer
Getting cancer was the best life lesson I could ever have conjured. I was so stubborn and so blinded by work and proving myself right and bumping through life that I never heard the whispers from my body. I had to be brought to my knees with a complicated cancer that required some of the worst chemo, weeks of daily radiation, that goddamn ice cap to save my hair (another lesson: turns out I’m super vain). I found myself organically doing these amazing, trippy, healing visualizations while lying in my backyard sick as hell thinking, “Wow, I could die sooner than I thought. Is this how I want my children to remember me? What can I do to expand my work and love during this time if I end up dying in the next couple of years if it comes back?” And I went deep. It changed the way I communicate and the way I design. And how I listen.
I have been creating something we’re calling a “cloffice.” A closet/office. It’s my little haven. I have my jewelry and silly collections. I have photos of friends from my wild days in NYC. It’s where I can put on makeup or read a book. Art that didn’t fit in other portions of the house. It’s separate from my work office; it’s my Jungle Room. My imagination playground. It’s a huge luxury, but I had this little room off my master with great windows and I took it over. It grew into a place of inspiration. It’s like a modern, less-focused craft room.
Pro design essentials
OMG. So many things. Really thinking through a contract, knowing what I want/ need out of every single meeting I go to. Be honest with what you are actually good at and hire people who can support you in the things you are weaker at. But don’t trust blindly. Ask questions so you understand all aspects of every single second of your work. It’s hard to make money as a creative, and sadly many people do not understand the brain and lifetime experience it takes to do our craft. So many hidden costs! Find a good formula to charge for your goods, compare that with your first hunch and then research the net for how much a similar item might be elsewhere. Then stick to that price.
You can handle it
An entrepreneurial spirit allows you to bring a solution-based mentality into everything you do. When you know that no matter what is thrown at you that you will be able to figure something out, you get a confidence and resiliency that infiltrates everything you are involved with.
Invest in experiences
An interesting thing my husband Mauricio and I have done while traveling is splurging on getting a local private tour guide whenever we arrive anywhere. We hired
a private guide in Rome for the Sistine Chapel. I was in the Sistine Chapel all alone for a good five minutes. I took off my shoes and felt the cold stone floor. We had the Swiss guard escort us through private rooms. It cost more money than the airfare to get there, and you know what, I still think about it. People go to Rome to buy bags and shoes. Buy an experience instead. You can always get a good Italian bag online now.
Kim Gordon creates homes that function and feel like resorts. Each home is uniquely tailored to the topography of the land, and the physical and emotional health of its residents, working with investors and homeowners to create full-sensory environments designed to recharge, replenish and inspire the people within. A cancer survivor and internationally published designer/builder, Gordon is widely recognized as a pioneer in the eld of wellness real estate.