Design Matters | How design can improve your mood!
Updated: May 18, 2019
This post will take a general look at the ways design impacts behavior and mood and in what ways we can make changes to our environments to better influence positivity in our lives! We will also share examples of the ways which we put these to practice to improve our own lives!
Photos Courtesy of: Jeremy Levine, MidCentArc, Lyconf, cravingsomecreativity, WickerParadise,
It wasn't long ago when design, concerned about our health, was focused mostly on how easily surfaces could be cleaned to prevent the spread of germs. Bacteriology and studies about the transfer of viruses gained traction at the turn of the 20th century and healthcare design quickly followed. Just picture a 1900's hospital with white linoleum floors, glossy white concrete block walls, and those bare metal rail beds. Those hospitals, while highly functional and sterile environments, were devoid of any sort of aesthetic treatment—or at least at that time aesthetics weren't a top priority when it came to creating a healthy environment.
Research of the recent past however, has more deeply evaluated how our health is affected by the environments that we create for ourselves. And we aren't only talking about our physical health either. It is now widely known that our built environments affect our mental wellbeing as well.
So take a moment to consider your surroundings: The size and shape of the room; The height of the ceilings; Any views outside and the amount of natural daylight; Every color and sound; any natural materials or plant life. Believe it or not, all of these characteristics of space and design has an affect on your behavior, your mood, and your wellbeing!
So let's take a deeper look at each of these characteristics and how we can design our homes to be places of comfort, peace, and health for an enriched life!
My wife has given me the advice that if you’re ever feeling down, take some time to spoil yourself, dress nicely, and wear a bright, happy color. Now, I didn't always heed that advice, but I realized that snippet of advice applies to our homes too! In the same way that wearing a frumpy brown sweatshirt can make you feel frumpy and well... brown, the same could be said of your home! Shabby furniture, overwhelming solid colors, and blank walls can leave you feeling bleh. There's something about beauty and color (or the lack thereof) that has a direct impact on the way that we feel!
Consider lightening up the walls with a bright paint color and adding pops of color with planters, pottery, or an accent chair (or four— I have an obsession with chairs). If changing furniture is out of the budget, pillows, large format artwork, and throw blankets can help bring color and life to your space! Subtle uses of bright and happy colors can turn your space from dreary to cheery and help brighten your mood each day!
What We Did:
When we bought our house we inherited that need-to-sell beige. You know that color that everyone is supposed to like but no one actually does... So we knew the first thing we were going to do was to lighten it all up. We ended up re-painting the entire first floor with Valspar's Honeymilk, which is a warm tinted white! Then we got to hanging our colorful pieces of art (my wife's art is sensational), and let me tell you, the change was tangible. The rooms were brighter, our accent colors more vivid, and our framed photos and artwork seemed to leap from the walls! Our home was much improved from it.
It's often overlooked, but daylight is critical to our health. It gives us vitamins, leads to increased productivity, minimizes seasonal depression, and helps strengthen our sleep. If you have an office with a window you'll know that tracking the sun's course throughout the day helps give you a sense of passing time. This awareness to passing time helps with productivity and helps keep us alert.
Here are some quick tips for increasing daylight levels in your home.
1) Lighten your walls.
2) Avoid dark horizontal surfaces.
3) Replace drapes with sheer fabric.
4) Move furniture back from the windows.
5) Strategically place mirrors to bounce light further into your space.
What We Did
Our mid-century home has some really great eaves. One eave off the side of our entryway and living room continues on to cover the attached carport, a common feature from the style. We decided when the roof was going to be replaced we would create an open-air skylight between our entry and carport to let the light in. Now our living room is 30% brighter, we can track the sun through our living space, and the dancing shadows the daylight creates in our space is unparalleled drama and depth. The decision to open that up is probably the best home-renovation decision we had ever made!
If you haven't seen how midcentury modern architects handled natural light in their masterpieces, check out this post. You will not be disappointed! There's a paragraph about how natural light was so integral to how these designers made their homes feel like there was no barrier between interior and exterior. It is truly incredible!
Have you heard the claim that an organized space can bring you joy? Names like Marie Kondo and the Minimalists probably come to mind. And there is truth to their obsessive compulsive organizing. Although my office might tell a different story, I love a clean, organized space. The only thing that I love more than knowing exactly where to find something when I need it, is knowing others can easily find it too. Am I right?!
You probably don't need much convincing to believe that an organized kitchen, garage, office, etc. can increase productivity, decrease stress, and lead to less complicated activity and a more pleasurable life. On the other hand, it's less known how to achieve a more organized space.
How can this be achieved? Simplify. Start small, maybe the utensil drawer could be organized and cleaned today and work your way up. We are designers at Visioneering Homes and not professional organizers. We understand the importance of a tidy space but don't have all the answers or guidance for you to achieve a tidy space. There are plenty of professional organizers on the web who know much better than we, so seek out their specific advice for each of your spaces!
Quality is one that I find often overlooked when it comes to how the things around us impacting our mood. The quality of built things really shapes our day-to-day experiences. Think of your devices, public transportation, your office chair, or a textbook. The quality and care that went into the design of those items and how you use them has a tremendous impact on the way that you feel. This too can be said about our homes and the stuff we put inside of it.
Things today aren't made like they used to be. It's true. Most things anyway. But not all furniture is made of particleboard and not every thing is mass produced in Asia. There are plenty of companies out there who make quality furniture meant to enhance your experience and be lasting pieces in your home. I hate to break it to you, you won't find them at Walmart... or Target. And you will pay more for a quality piece of furniture, but is it worth it!
It is a common desire amongst the Danish to fill their homes with well-designed and lasting pieces of furniture. They believe surrounding yourself with beauty and quality can influence your whole day in a positive way, one simple experience at a time. Beyond just the user experience, and this is truly special, is that a quality piece will be passed down from generations, becoming a legacy piece and a way to honor and remember former generations! That is just incredibly fascinating! Picture having a coffee table complete with dings, scratches, and stains that share the memory of your grandfather who fought during a world war. Now that's a cocktail conversation starter!
What We Did
We found quality pieces on the used market for a good deal. Some needed refinishing or minor repairing but we were up for the task. And as solid wood and sturdy pieces, we know they will last for years to come and enhance the overall joy we have in our home. Hopefully one day (a long time from now) our grandkids will want to inherit some of these pieces and they will bring memories of their time spent with us.
Stated simply, the environments we surround ourselves with have an impact on the way that we feel, behave, and our overall wellbeing! By adding color, daylight, organization, and quality pieces into our homes we can help to impact our lives in a positive way.
About the Author:
Brad is the CEO & Founder of Visioneering Homes. He is passionate about all things architecture, residential design, and providing easy access for homeowners to professional design services. Him and his wife have 3 kids and enjoy an adventurous life in the mountains of the American west. When he is not helping you make design decisions for your home, he's camping, hiking, playing basketball, visiting museums, national parks, and doing house projects with his family.