Usually when we talk about interior design, we focus on aesthetic aspects – or even the tactical, smell and sound senses as we’ve covered in many articles before this one but that’s still only one piece of the puzzle.

An area that’s not always taken into consideration is the psychological effect of interior design on our subconscious. The choices you make in interior design do, in fact, have a deep effect on your perceptions and emotions.

There are actually many studies that show interior design can evoke positive or negative emotional responses on us. How we layout our furniture, choose colors and decorate can improve our productivity, help us to relax or simply set our mood.

So, to make the most of your interior design project, check out the following tips: 

1- Choose colors wisely

Although the way we perceive color can vary depending on the culture and country, colors have a definitive effect on our mood and emotions.

Colors give us a certain state of mind, can energize us, can cheer us up, can make us feel safe, calm, relaxed, and can increase the ability to concentrate or bring back good memories. So, try to identify which colors negatively or positively affect you and your family.

As a general advice, when you choose a color palette to include in your interior, three picks are better than one. Choose neutrals for the big items such as walls and flooring, then calm colors for pricey furniture and other sturdy items. Finally, pick a third more dramatic color to pop in your statement accessories and statement pieces.

How Design Affects Our Emotions

2- Be aware of the adequate amount of light

Research shows that an adequate amount of light improves mood and energy levels, while poor lighting contributes to depression and other deficiencies in the body. The amount and type of lighting directly affect concentration, appetite, mood, and many other aspects of daily life.

Specialists recommend imitating natural daylight cycles with artificial lights. Brighter and stronger lights are suggested for the morning and during the day, while dimmer lights are recommended for night.

So, translating the recommendation to your design: replace your light bulbs for smart ones. Your whole body will feel the difference. Smart bulbs can change colors, which means you can warm up – with golden yellow tones – or cool down – with light blue tones – the feel of the room depending on what you are planning to do and also, they can help you sleep better: The C Sleep emits several color temperatures that are designed to help regulate natural melatonin production in the body.

How Design Affects Our Emotions

3- Simulate Natural Environments

Some studies also show that sterile and artificial environments can bring feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear; while natural environments are more likely to put people at ease.

Make sure to incorporate in your design the shapes and textures that should represent natural elements (earth, water, wood, metal and fire). The rich texture of a shaggy rug for instance will enhance the sense of comfort and happiness, while the decorative metal elements, such as wall clock, vase, etc. will promote strength and independence. Wooden elements are linked to health and personal growth.

Remember to bring as many natural materials and plants to your projects as you can and don’t forget that the furniture should be arranged in a way that does not create “dead space” (furniture arranged against the wall), since it fosters negative energy. A seamless flow of the elements in the room allows the energy to flow equally seamlessly.

How Design Affects Our Emotions

4- Enhance the perception of your space

The size and the spaciousness of the room also influences occupant’s mood. In fact, a study published in Scientific American reviews the impact of the often overlooked ceiling height on an individual’s notion of freedom or confinement. It finds that the height of the ceiling impacts our subconscious perception of space and environment. It further proved that people are more creative and feel less constrained in rooms with higher ceilings.

Since not all of us are lucky to live in spacious rooms with high ceilings, we can still make them appear a) larger, by choosing furniture that is scaled to size and b) slimmer, by placing a large mirror on the back wall and think vertical for your storage needs.

If we want our spaces to feel more inviting, we should stick to a calm color pallet, creating intimate groupings with furniture, and offer plenty of ambient lighting.

How Design Affects Our Emotions

With all that said, it should not surprise you that a good interior design project should always consider “stealing” some knowledge from psychology to improve emotional impacts of our places because the idea that a home should be a happy place is definitely correct.

It’s important to realize that homes are not promoting happiness per se, but with the right tweaks, they can be molded and designed in a way that promotes good mood and health.

In 1826 the French epicure and gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, in his work The Physiology of Taste said “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are”. Yes, I do believe that food might be a good way to trigger positive emotions and tell much about us – they say I make a badass risotto myself. But another way to trigger our positive emotions is to surround ourselves with spaces that everyday can bring out the best in us. So, building on Jean Anthelme’s notion, on my field of work we could definitely paraphrase him:

Tell me what your home is like, and with a couple of tips I will tell you how to be happier.

Stay home. Stay connected. Stay happy. 😊

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