Environmental psychology has a history of thousands of years. It existed in the form of the popular Chinese discipline Feng Shui, and it was also studied in India where it was known as Vastu Shastra.
Today, we base what we know mostly on neuroscience and psychology. Numerous studies show that certain design elements awaken positive or negative feelings in people. These findings are often translated into the interior design world, where they’re used to trigger positive emotional responses and create a healthy and pleasant environment. If you want to live in a house that puts a smile on your face and is free of health-endangering toxins, here is everything you need to know.
The Power of Interior Design
Interior design, especially our spatial perspective of some space, can largely impact how we feel in it. A space in which you feel confined and trapped will affect your mood, creativity and productivity. In fact, things we usually don’t consider very relevant can be great mood-changers. One of them is the ceiling height. A study by University of Minnesota reviews the influence of this particular factor on one’s mood. It suggests that higher ceilings improve focus and creativity, and boost the mood.
Many other things related to interior design can influence your health and well-being: good air quality, space arranged for free circulation around the house, access to natural light, safe exit and stairs.
Each Room Has a Function
A 2015 survey showed us that certain rooms can, depending on their functions and design, produce very tangible emotions. There are some pre-established opinions about interior design no one dares to defy and for good reasons too. For example, there’s a common rule that the TV shouldn’t be placed in a bedroom. A bedroom should evoke calmness and be free of any digital distractions, strong colors and clutter. Each specific room has a specific function, and its design is adapted to that purpose.
Why Should You Go Green?
Your home is your safe haven, but sometimes it is a source of health threats and an energy vampire. Eco-friendly design makes sure that there are no such issues in your home. First, you shouldn’t use paint colors and finishes that contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are emitting gasses and can hurt your eyes and respiratory system. Second, save energy wherever you can, from eco-friendly kitchen appliances to energy-efficient lighting. Using organic and natural materials is an important feature of green design, too.
Related: The Basics of Indoor Gardening
Designing Your Personal Space
We spend an awful lot of time indoors. Designing a space that makes you feel happy during that time is the basis of a healthy and happy life. Here is a short checklist on how to do that.
- Use mood-enhancing colors (e.g. blue, green, yellow, lavender, pink, etc.);
- Include natural materials (wood, stone, reclaimed wood, bamboo, eco-friendly fiber);
- Choose functional and comfortable furniture;
- Infuse the décor with your personality through homeware;
- Allow natural light in (windows and skylights), and layer artificial lighting solutions,
- Introduce plants to purify the air and boost your mood; and
- Use soft fabrics and different texture to evoke comfort and bliss.
Cluttered Home = Cluttered Mind
Whether it is your living room or closet, excess things in your environment can have a negative impact on your ability to concentrate and process information. Physical clutter in your surroundings leads to mental clutter, which is much more difficult to get rid of. Decluttering your home, on the other hand, is very simple:
- Use multi-purpose furniture with storage compartments;
- Get rid of the stuff you aren’t using frequently (use a three-box method: one for keeping, one for storing and one for throwing away);
- Give one item to charity each day;
- Organize a garage sale;
- Use the 80/20 rule (normally you wear only 20 percent of your clothes all the time);
- Clear off flat surfaces;
- Categorize things based on similarity; and
- Use alternative storage solutions (boxes, bins, baskets, etc.).
When someone says “home”, you instantly think of a happy and healthy place, but that isn’t necessarily true. However, it can become so, when interior design complies with what we know from psychology and medicine.