In the book It’s All Too Much, author Peter Walsh wisely observed, “Our home should be the antidote of stress, not the cause of it.” He was talking about a more minimal lifestyle, but his words relate to interior design principles.
According to The American Institute of Stress, 33% of Americans report feeling extreme stress. This can lead to difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and depression. We become stressed when something in our life feels out of our control or when we don’t have time to rest and recover. We can’t control everything that may cause stress, but we can create a home that provides a place for peace and happiness.
The Connection Between Interior Design and Mental Health
Interior design plays an important role in positive mental health. When we get home at the end of a busy day, we need a place to recharge and feel centered. A home that has too much visual clutter, or a poor layout, can make it difficult to focus and connect with our loved ones. Even the colors and textures we choose can trigger positive or negative emotions.
How we design and decorate a room can create a sense of calm or chaos. It’s important to create a space where we can rest and feel our best. Making simple changes to your home can reduce stress and boost happiness.
Interior Design Elements That Support Positive Mental Health
One of the most important design elements that supports mental health isn’t something we can buy or even touch. The right amount of natural light in your home has the power to boost your happiness. Too little light can create feelings of depression. This is why sunny vacation spots help us feel so relaxed. In areas like Colorado, many experience seasonal depression when long winters lead to reduced sunlight during the day.
You likely can’t take a permanent vacation so it’s important to consider natural light when designing your home. Not only will it help you see better when working and cooking, but just 30 minutes of natural light each day can help prevent depression. Consider adding windows, glass doors, or solar tubes to darker rooms and choose window treatments that bring optimal light into your home.
On the flip side, you may want a darker space at night to rest. Sleep is another important factor in maintaining a positive mood. There’s a strong correlation between insomnia, depression, and anxiety so it’s important to get your full eight hours. Consider window treatments to help block out the sunlight on longer days. Darker rooms will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
You’ll also want to invest in programmable, automated window treatments. Some folks can experience depression without enough light. By automating your windows, you’ll regularly let light in and can avoid oversleeping.
Color is one of the first things we discuss with our clients when designing a space because it helps uncover how they want their home to feel. Color has been used for thousands of years to impact moods. Bright colors are used to create excitement in classrooms while cooler, muted shades create a sense of calm in your doctor’s office. Color has the power to bring up emotions and change our behaviors.
There is no right or wrong color palette when designing your space. Colors used in interior design change over time and every color may have positive or negative emotions associated with it. You may feel most relaxed in a room filled with calming hues of blue. Or, if your strict aunt had a house full of blue furniture you were never allowed to sit on, blue may evoke some feelings of resentment you don’t want to bring into your home. It’s important to consider which color is best for you, even if it doesn’t align with the color of the year.
If you’re not sure how to choose the right shade for your home, check out our tips for choosing the right color for any room.
When selecting furniture and decor, you want to find a good balance of hard and soft, rough and smooth. Oftentimes hard and rough textures have negative connotations, like a damp unfinished basement. Softer textures usually make us think of warmth and relaxation, like what you’d find in a luxury hotel room.
However, different textures are not necessarily good or bad. The key is finding balance in your space. Wood can create a sense of comfort and safety and can have a calming effect. Bamboo has been found to decrease anxiety and improve concentration. Balancing textures like velvety pillows with a wooden headboard provides a mix of relaxation and structure.
You’ve likely heard spending time in nature can help boost energy and improve your mood. Bringing nature inside can have the same effect and is the perfect addition to sustainable interior design. The easiest way to do this is to add live plants to your space. Studies show that just 20 minutes a day in a room with a plant can help us feel happier and more peaceful.
If you can’t have live plants due to allergies or curious pets, there are excellent faux plant options that are almost as good as the real thing.
Art is a powerful way to personalize your space and bring forward happy memories. If you’re someone who struggles to pick out unique art, don’t be afraid to make your own. Have a photo painted on a canvas of your honeymoon location or frame a recipe from your grandmother. Expressing yourself through your own art can be even more beneficial in reducing anxiety and depression. Adding art and photos that make you smile is an instant mood booster and brings a feeling of warmth and connection to your space.
Carving out intentional blank spaces in your home is an easy way to use interior design for mental health. White space isn’t referring to the color white, but a place for your eyes and mind to rest, also known as “negative space”. Think of empty walls and table tops to balance out bold art and textured pillows. Even if your home is clean, filling it with too many items can make it feel cluttered leading to anxiety and depression.
Fewer items in your home will reduce overwhelm and bring you a sense of calm. Lack of time is a major cause of stress and uncluttered spaces take less time to clean and make it easier to find things. When deciding what to include in your home, choose each item intentionally to maximize the function and feel of your space.
How to Create a Space to Boost Your Mood
Once you understand how interior design affects mental health, it’s easier to create a space that supports your well-being. To start, remove any items that are no longer serving you. It can be difficult to move past negative feelings when your space is giving you sensory overload.
Next, consider the layout of your furniture and how it supports your lifestyle. Do you have couches that allow for meaningful conversations? What about a cozy chair with a lamp nearby that makes it easy to relax or read? Create spaces where you can be with people and also be alone. Both are vital for positive mental health.
Once you have a spacious and well-arranged room, decide on colors, textures, and art to bring in the feelings you crave. This can be different for each room, but using similar colors and styles throughout your space will make it feel more cohesive and less chaotic.
Interior Design Can Improve Your Mental Health
Being intentional about how you design your space can support or even improve your mental health. Reducing visual clutter, choosing colors and textures that bring us happiness, and bringing in plenty of life with plants and natural sunlight, all have the power to reduce our stress and improve our mood. Working with a professional can help you maximize the positive effects of interior design on your mental health.
Spark Interiors focuses on design that evokes intentional emotions for each space. How do you want to feel when you come home?
If you’re ready to design a home that makes you feel your best, we’d love to be your partner and guide. Contact Spark Interiors today to get started!