One of the most important principles in interior design is ‘balance and proportion in all things.’ While this might be a good basis to decide on that IKEA table or the layout of those plush chairs, we’d like to think it’s a motto that extends beyond design, to our own lives, in terms of wellbeing and mental health. It’s no surprise that your surroundings and well-being have a symbiotic relationship, and we’ve undergone a deeper exploration here into the links between both. With a rise in today’s designers adopting aspects of interior design psychology into their projects, here are some approaches you can consider to help make your environment a positive-energy space.
Also known as chromotherapy, colour can have a drastic effect on our mood, and is arguably one of the biggest subconscious cues. Red? Love, danger, heat. Blues? A sense of peace, stability, and calm. Greens? Growth, safety, nature and those brussel sprouts no one seems to like. Who knew that tests with red colours prove to be more intimidating than green ones? (Adam Alter in Drunk Tank Pink). While it’s true different colours may represent very different things depending on the cultural context – living spaces should be organised predominantly with calming hues in mind, and adding bolder colours like fuchsia can be incorporated via artwork and ornaments. Grey can also help us de-stress, but too much of it and you’ll have a space that feels dull and draining. Compare above, which room feels more breathable, cosy, or calm to you?
It probably comes as no surprise that sunshine is a mood lifter, elevating the production of feel-good chemicals like serotonin and endorphins. Yet a lack of natural sunlight can trigger feelings of sadness and anxiety. Natural sunlight energizes any space it floods, and one study even showed that employees with access to natural light considerably outperformed co-workers without sunlight in their workspaces. Additionally, when people worked using artificial light only, they showed a lack of vitality and signs of poor sleep. Choosing soft light for bedrooms and living spaces can help us relax, and lighting configurations can even affect the way you make decisions, according to researchers at the University of Toronto.
PlantsIncorporating plants and greenery into workspaces, homes, and even restaurants has a whole host of benefits. Also known as biophilic design, it helps to boost our wellbeing, and recent investigations show it can significantly reduce physiological and psychological stress. As well as creating a happier ambience, plants purify the air by removing toxins, reducing allergens and increasing the overall quality. Taking it a step further, fresh flowers also have a calming effect on people, as well as being a beautiful addition to any space.
Clearing clutter once it builds up can be a tedious task for sure, and an untidy, overcrowded space can intensify feelings of stress and anxiety. There’s no one way to embrace a minimalistic lifestyle – from streaming ‘The Minimalist: Less Is Now’ on Netflix or learning the KonMari method to get rid of items that bring you no joy (we know, it’s difficult). Less really is more when it comes to organising our spaces, and being minimalistic doesn’t mean a room devoid of any character. Carefully curating your furniture and ornaments, to prioritise those of beauty and function, can make for a more balanced and spacious room.
From movie posters, Banksy reprints, to canvas paintings, art can go a long way in brightening up bare walls and adding a touch of personality to any room. If you’re not sure that the artwork complements the rest of the space, go for something on the neutral side with a minimalistic design. Framed printed photographs are also a great way of showcasing the best of your personal memories whenever you step into the room. Keep in mind the size too, as large pieces of art can draw attention and become the centrepiece of the space.
Maybe the real reason snow white’s evil stepmother was so mirror obsessed was that she just needed a bigger space. Probably not, but installing mirrors around the house, especially in bathrooms, are notorious for creating the illusion of expanse. Thought there was seating on the other side? You’re not the only one. Restaurants also deploy this trick to create the impression of large, expansive seating areas. Heed caution however, as according to the Institute of Psychiatry, too many mirrors around the house can also be a cause of further anxiety.
Just like clutter, too many different patterns and textures can feel overwhelming and lead to an environment that feels stuffy. In this case, skip the stripes, prints and polka dots and go for neutral block colours. We guarantee it will make the room feel fresher, cleaner, and in some cases less claustrophobic.
Smell is one of our strongest senses and can be a major influencer on our mood. From diffusers and fragrance oils, to room sprays and scented candles, different scents have different properties. Using Lavender, for example, has long been associated with counteracting anxiety. More citrusy scents on the other hand, are affiliated with being refreshed and alert. Using scents this way within your space can be a small way to help increase your functionality.
Our sense of well-being, just like the natural world, and designing a space, is at its best when balanced. We hope these pointers have been helpful, but let us know if you think there’s anything we’ve missed.