Apr 19, 2011

How your interior affects your mind and mood. 7 Essentials to consider.

Softly lit, rounded furnishings and favored art make this space fabulous.

There is quite a bit of research on how factors like light, space and room layout affect physical and psychological well-being.  As an interior designer, I have known this for years through observing my clients and reviewing their lives before and after interior and exterior changes.   Here are a listing of the seven interior elements that you can modify to positively affect your health and mental well-being:

1) Light. This is already a well-known mood modulator. Darkness promotes fears but soft light is comforting. Use candles, artificial sources controlled with dimmers, and natural sunshine, muted so you're not in direct glare.  

2) Decor. What you select for your furniture and accessories are also important. You feel grounded when you look around your space and see the evidence of who you are and what you have collected in life.

3) Kitchen as a hearth.  Since the 1900's we have heard that the hearth is considered the heart of the home. No surprise then, that British research proves that theory. Being in the kitchen links you to feelings of comfort.  Beyond getting food, there's a sense of protection, warmth, and sociability. Ideally, it should be a functional and a social space where friends and family can gather, do work, and relax.

4) Outdoor element:  Windows are an architectural element that's considered critical.
 Understanding your environment - especially the "unknown" outside -  offers control and stability to your mind.  While a yard is nice, if you don't have one, single windows offer an emotional lift.  No windows? Add artwork with landscape images, sunshine and other outdoor scenery.

5) Create a "soft" space.  As you have likely observed, the use of curves instead of hard edges on counters, furniture, and cabinets does help nurture contentment and well-being. To the brain, softer edges imply safety. Not everything in your environment needs to be rounded. For example,  arranging objects and furnishings at angles to soften corners is one solution.

6) Uniqueness. Decorating with signed artwork, a  one-of-a-kind sculpture, and other unique pieces  not only puts your fingerprint on your place, it transmits a sense of authenticity and trust.

7) Solace. Certainly we can all identify with having some place to find solitude. Even if you can't have your own room, it's important to find ways to guarantee yourself privacy and private time.  Create a retreat, a corner space, or even use a deep closet to carve out a private niche for yourself.