I’m a person who is very influenced by my environment. Sometimes I walk into an interesting store, or a beautifully decorated home and I can immediately feel my mood and energy level change. Has this happened to you? Sure, some places just have good vibes, but for the most part, it’s because designers have taken active steps to manipulate how we feel in their spaces.
And there is a good reason we should all implement these mood-boosting interior design tricks in our homes. Research shows that our surroundings can dramatically influence our mental health. Scientists studying the psychology of space have found that “good” environments should be exciting, exhilarating, and interesting or calm, serene and tranquil, depending on their intended function.
Spaces that achieve these goals put us in a positive mood – and that positive mood improves our creative thinking, problem solving, innovation, intellectual performance, and even our relationships. Who doesn’t want that?
To begin, start by taking an inventory of your spaces. If any of them make you feel frenzied, under-stimulated, dreary or bored, then they are a prime target for a makeover. Figure out the purpose of the space and how you’d ideally like to feel in it. Then dial up the following four elements for the maximum effect.
- Incorporate some greenery: Do you have plants or cut flowers in your spaces? Scientists have found that greenery makes people feel calm, reduces stress and anxiety, and improves the ability to concentrate. For me, having fresh flowers sitting on my desk always improves my mood and makes me feel more polished and ready to tackle the task at hand.
- Incorporate some wood elements: Research shows that the texture of wood has a calming effect on people and can even reduce your blood pressure. If you have a wood floor, make sure some of it is showing. If you don’t have any wood elements, opt for incorporating a wood table or some wood artwork. A beautiful vase full of interesting branches could even do the trick.
- Pay attention to lighting: Incorporate natural sunlight (vitamin D) if you can, as it improves mood and positivity. But don’t forget to use other types of light to create ambience. If you are going for a sexy, sultry dinner, use a lot of candlelight. If you want to feel cozy while you curl up on the sofa and read, bring a table or floor lamp nearby. If your living room feels too hot or too bright in mid-summer, get gauzy drapes to filter the light. Manipulating both natural and powered light can help you create a variety of moods, even in the same space.
- Get organized in a way that works for you: Research shows that most people are less anxious and more productive when their stuff is neatly organized and under control. Some people actually get more stressed out after a decluttering session, but that’s a whole other blog post! For the most part, tidying our stuff makes us feel in control and free to turn our attention to more difficult tasks.
Go forth and improve your mental health at home! Let me know if these four mood-boosting interior design tips improved your sense of wellbeing.