Over the last two years, it has become very clear that our homes directly impact our moods and our well-being, for better or for worse. If I’m being honest, I’ve always believed this, and creating a joyful, comfortable experience at home has been one of my guiding values as a designer. However, I don’t think this has been the common public consensus until now.
In previous decades, I had the impression that “interior design” was perceived as an aesthetic, almost superficial industry. Yes, style and visual appeal is still very important today, but I think the industry as a whole is doing more now to promote health and wellness as well…and I love that!
These days, even though luxury is still desirable, we want more from our homes than spaces to “look nice”. We want them to support our daily routines and our interests, like inspiring us to read, entertain, create art, host and connect with family, or display the items and photos that fill our hearts with joyful memories.
In tandem with colour and style that you enjoy, interior design can improve your overall well-being in so many unique ways. Today, I want to share a few of them with you…
1. Create social and solo spaces for a happy home.
Now that we’ve all spent an enormous amount of time in our homes the last couple of years, we really understand the need for a place to have the family spend together…and apart. Here are some design tips for making the most of each:
Tips for Common Areas: In your common areas, like your kitchen and living room, make sure there is comfortable seating for everyone. Having adequate space to enjoy each other’s company encourages memorable activities like family dinners or movie nights, without cramping each other’s style. As a result, you stay connected and create an intimate bond with those you love.
Tips for Solo Areas: However, everyone needs their space to be alone too. Having a special space to go and recharge, read, or reflect is essential to keeping a harmonious home. I love adding reading nooks and window seats especially for this purpose. Stock them with a journal, books, a place to set your tea, a candle, and whatever else helps you unwind.
2. Use organization to create stability and calm.
Yes, design does include organization, and it’s powerful. When your home or environment is cluttered, it makes your life feel chaotic and out of control. By contrast, creating an efficient space where everything you need has a place, you allow your mind to relax and feel secure.
I understand that decluttering can be overwhelming, so I suggest starting with a smaller, high-traffic space, such as a closet or pantry. Then, start decluttering, and don’t move on until you’ve completed the project. I guarantee, once you’re finished, you will keep opening the door to admire your work!
3. Design each room for a desired emotion.
Did you know that you can design a room to inspire a specific emotion from the moment you step inside? It’s true. You can create a bathroom that energizes you first thing in the morning. A bedroom that soothes you. A living room the inspires security, connection, and conversation. This is exactly what I do as an interior designer, and you can too.
First, approach each room in your home with an open mind about how your family uses it. If you know that things get boisterous in the living room (and you like it that way), designing it in calm, soothing colours might feel out of place. Embracing colour and cozy textiles might feel more authentic to you. That’s how you align the room’s purpose with the way you want it to feel.
Once you’ve identified a room’s purpose and the desired emotion for it, you can start thinking about design elements. Consider the possible colours, lighting, artwork, and soft finishes that naturally evoke those feelings in you. For example, open rooms with taller ceilings encourage creativity and inspiration, while lower ceilings (or darker colours on walls or the ceiling) help us focus more intensely on specific tasks or feel safe and cocooned.
Bonus? When you intentionally design your interiors, it makes your home extremely personal and gives you the confidence to be more intentional in other areas of your life, too. However, it’s 100% personal. You may want to feel inspired to be active in your home, while someone else may want to feel relaxed. There’s no wrong answer. Your home is about you.
P.S. Take a peek at our design process to see how we create spaces just for you.
4. Embrace the psychology of colour in your home.
Speaking of designing for an emotion, colour is one of the best tools in your design toolkit. Colours evoke emotional responses in everyone, even if those emotional responses differ from person to person, culture to culture.
I’ll share some of the common colour associations below, but the best way to truly understand which colours make you feel relaxed, alive, or inspired (and everything in between) is to explore colour for yourself…
When you’re in nature, what colours are you drawn to? What colours can be found in your favourite pieces of art? What is the colour palette of your favourite faraway destination? What colours remind you of safety, comfort, and security? Not surprisingly, a lot of these answers may be related to your past experiences with them!
Here’s a quick peek into colour psychology to get you started…
Red and Orange: These bold hues tend to promote excitement, optimism, independence, and confidence. They can also prompt feelings of community and conversation, which is probably why so many social spaces will use these hues. However, since reds and oranges are “strong” colours, it’s best to use them sparingly. Research shows that red and orange in large doses can prompt anxiety, so be strategic with your colour placement.
Browns: Brown is an earthy colour that most people leave off colour lists, but I think it’s worth mentioning. For many people, it can feel as warm, comfortable, and inviting as the elements that capture this colour in nature, like cinnamon, cedar, and other woods.
Yellow: Yellow is generally considered a happy, sunny colour, especially light, buttery yellows and daffodil yellow. Darker tinted yellows can be associated with mistrust, so again, small doses, and you be the judge.
Green: Green is one of the colours most common found in nature and is often associated with freshness and new life. In homes, it can create a sense of relaxing, restorative calm, especially when used in softer, more muted variations. I painted my bedroom Benjamin Moore CC-700 Smoky Green, and it is such a soothing and relaxing colour. I love it! Brighter shades of green, however, can lean less calm and more toward stimulating and reviving. Again, you choose!
Blue: Blue is a colour found most often in nature, and there are such a variety of shades that the emotions they create are equally varied. In general, blue is considered harmonious and calm in a space. However, while a dark navy can feel serious, secure, and grounding, an airy and ethereal blue may feel light and relaxing. Quite different, but equally serene.
Purple: Purple and violet are generally considered creative and inspirational colours, though they do have an association with royalty and luxury as well. (Not surprising, since the first purple dyes ever made were so expensive only royalty could afford them!)
Design Tip: If you don’t want to commit to a significant change, try introducing new bedding or toss pillows in a colour and see how it feels to you. If you are going bold with colour, however, I do suggest keeping the wall and trim colour the same and using wall tile, furniture, and accessories to add different colours to a room. I can’t wait to hear how colour impacts your well-being at home!
5. Control your energy levels with strategic lighting.
Natural light is essential to our physical and mental health. In fact, our physiological clocks (circadian rhythm) are programmed to rise and fall with the sun. However, many of us are usually up before the sun and/or in bed long after the sun goes down, especially in the winter months.
So what can you do to feel more naturally awake or sleepy, depending on the time of day? By optimizing our homes, we can tap into lighting that suits our needs regardless of mother nature’s rhythms. In other words, control the “sun” indoors. (Your body really does think of household lighting as the sun!)
Bright light can make us feel more happy and alert during the day, and softer light in the evenings can help us relax and prepare us for sleep. You can modify lighting levels to your advantage by making small changes, such as facing your desk to look out a window while you work, or adding dimmers to your bedroom lighting to help you unwind and relax in the evening.
These methods help establish our natural mood during these different times of day, increasing (or appropriately decreasing) our energy levels as needed. (Here’s a great article with tips for improving sleep… #10 talks about lighting!)
Looking for a partner in creating a home that supports your wellbeing?
I would love to help. This is truly my passion, and I know we can come up with a design that uniquely serves you. Book a complimentary call with me and let’s get to know each other.
Featured Maker: Harmonic Arts
In the spirit of wellness, I’d like to share a company based on Vancouver Island that I’ve been supporting for a few years. Meet Harmonic Arts, a family-owned, plant-based medicine company run by clinical herbalists, Yarrow and Angela Willard.
I love that Harmonic Arts fills a need for natural remedies, and I will often try to find solutions here before looking to more modern pharmaceutical approaches. One of my favourite products is their 5 Mushroom Chocolate Elixir that I add to warm milk before bed. It satisfies my sweet tooth and also feeds my brain all at the same time!