Achieving Interior Tranquility
Interior Design and its impact on our well-being
For most Interior Designers, the connections between a home’s interior and its occupants’ sense of well-being is intuitive. They have chosen this profession because they enjoy helping people make their homes beautiful. A poorly designed space can have unsettling effects on people’s moods. Exactly what triggers these emotions is still being studied and differs between people. Some for instance prefer rich colors and textures while others like clean lines and minimalism.
Experts have reached some points of consensus on stimulus such as color and greenery boost mood while other influences such as symmetry are not so clear. The real news here is that a rooms design does influence mood and well-being and we are beginning to get a better understanding of its power
How we process beauty
Most people think the perception of beauty id personal, in the “eye of the beholder”. Neuro-aesthetics is a relatively new field of experimental science that aim to combine (neuro-) psychological research with aesthetics by investigating the “perception, production, and response to art, as well as interactions with objects and scenes that evoke an intense feeling, often of pleasure”. Researchers have found that beauty is recognized cognitively as geometric patterns that can evoke an emotional feel good response. If the pattern of space is readily understandable then the brain signals that it is stress free and approachable. This results in a physiological state very similar to meditation.
There remains however a great deal of dispute, some scientists believe the brain responds best to soft edges, symmetry and predictable patterns and some feel that the brain prefers a more interesting and surprising approach of random patterns. There seems yet to be consensus on whether a brain likes being relaxed by a space or stimulated by surprising juxtapositions. It may well be that different personalities prefer different approaches. One thing is certain about this new field, there is an ever-evolving realm of information and we will continue to be aware of the influence design selections have on our client’s sense of well-being
Our goal as Designers is to assist clients in creating a space that is uniquely theirs and excites them emotionally. Problems can occur when a client is un-expressive, or a couple have divergent tastes and design visions. Of particular difficulty are situations where an extrovert and an introvert share the same space. Extroverts prefer open spaces where sound, light, socializing and attention stimulate their brain. Introverts prefer intimate closed spaces where reading, quiet conversation and contemplation can occur. Regardless of personality type most couple will have to compromise when designing spaces and its important to provide a space for each to recover from the day’s activities.
Interior Designers work very hard to recognize individual preferences and create a sanctuary for all personality types. It is important to evaluate all design elements, lighting, color, texture, acoustics, furniture layouts and entrances to fit the clients individual or shared needs. Eliminating stress inducing design details such as multiple confusing flooring surfaces or failing to contrast slightly the color of walls and floors to create a sense of dimension. During the selection process we carefully observe clients body language and enthusiasm. When they are excited, we know we are on the right track. Every aspect of what we do can add up to creating a life of joy. That is our ultimate reward.
One proven element of Interior Design that promotes mental health is the great outdoors. Living in a space with plenty of natural light and greenery can elevate mood, improve focus and fight stress. Bringing the outdoors in is a sure-fire way to make you happier. Research has shown that simply looking at images of nature scenes improved memory, productivity and well-being.
It’s easy to incorporate nature into our interiors. Window coverings that allow filtered light and glare reduction are essential in our warm Texas climate but too much light can be a bad thing so the ability to regulate room lighting is critical. Organic wooden tables and soft edged surfaces can contribute to a calmer environment while absorbing noise and bringing a sense of calm.
Seeing the light
An often overlooked aspect of Interior Design is the attention to proper light. There is an abundance of research pointing to the benefits of proper lighting in impacting our health, mood and energy. There are studies that show insufficient light in a home can cause depression. Other studies have also shown that too much light can be negative emotionally so getting the balance right is essential.
Even the color of light matters. Sunlight is best but artificial light can be beneficial if utilized properly. Light from LED’s computer and TV screens are generally blue and can be good during the day because they eliminate fatigue. At night this “electronic light” can disrupt circadian rhythms and melatonin levels which can disrupt sleep and cause fatigue.
We recently completed a design project for a client who had an extensive and valuable art collection. Teaming with a local lighting specialist we had his art lit with hi tech controllable lighting at just the right angle and color temperature. The results were incredible elevating his art to a museum like beauty and greatly enhancing emotional appeal of the spaces.
Every year Pantone, a company that specialized in color matching technology for industry, selects a color of the year. Whether or not you are a fan of Living Coral or Classic Blue (Pantone’s choices for 2019 and 2020) color is not just about trends and taste. It has a real impact on how a room is perceived and is one of the best ways to accentuate the energy in a space.
Green and blue can create a feeling of well being and focus but may make some people feel drowsy. It is no surprise that red promotes higher levels of aggression but may also decrease attention span. Yellow energizes and cheers but include it in a room with purple and you may become distracted.
Everyone has a different response to color, so it is important to match it to individual personalities. High energy people may need relaxing color and others may need a more soothing palette. An office space should have color that helps one concentrate while more relaxing colors are great for bedrooms. Those colors can be used in more than just wall paint too. Pillows, vases and artwork can express color as easy as paint so freshening up a space is as easy as a small change in color
Crating a home interior that promotes a sense of well-being does not happen randomly. Every home has its unique characteristics and the way it is put together can greatly affect how you feel when you occupy it. Do you have a favorite room or space? Have you visited a hotel lobby or restaurant that made you feel good? These rooms and the feeling they stimulate are not accidental. The process of furnishing your home should be carefully considered. Quite literally our happiness may depend on it.