Stepping into a dimly lit room enveloped in gaudy wallpaper and flaunting sharp mismatched furniture will make your nose wrinkle in disgust. Out of nowhere, there’s a sinking feeling in your stomach and a sense of anxiety that you can’t put your finger on.
As it turns out, when a room is a physical manifestation of your troubled mind, you can’t help but jump ship as fast as possible.
These feelings are not unique as we’ve all experienced the power interior design has on our mood. But decor also profoundly affects our mental health. Everything from the colors to the placement of our furniture can and will influence our mental (and physical) well-being.
How Does Interior Design Affect Mental Health?
How we perceive our surroundings always comes down to basic psychology, and our view of interior design is no different. To manipulate the emotional impact of a space, professional interior designers leverage their knowledge of psychology. For example, by understanding color psychology, a designer can maneuver with different colors to evoke the desired emotions.
This might seem revolutionary, but design principles rooted in psychology are as old as the hills and were heralded by the Vastu Shastra and Feng Shui.
Today, a relatively recent sub-discipline of empirical aesthetics, called neuroaesthetics, scientifically approaches the study of aesthetic perceptions and aims to explain how they impact us on a neurological level. With this data on hand, we can create spaces that stimulate positive emotional responses and foster well-being.
Which Design Elements Improve Mental Health?
By taking into account the needs of the occupants, interior designers put a concerted effort into fashioning functional and visually appealing rooms. As long as you have the bigger picture in mind, you can even implement some design elements by yourself.
A room dripping with light is a delight to the eye and body. Studies have shown that extended exposure to sunlight boosts mood, increases productivity, and reduces stress levels. But how does this work?
Natural light signals to our body that it’s time to wake up and get out of bed by regulating our circadian rhythm and controlling our sleep-wake cycles. Plus, sunlight can also noticeably reduce depression and anxiety.
We know art can brush away stress and exponentially improve our mood, but did you know that the mere presence of an art piece can have a positive effect on your brain? When we engage with art, our emotions have a gateway to flow freely, relieving those struggling to articulate their feelings.
When we experience beauty through art, our brain releases dopamine (a feel-good chemical) and quiets our busy minds.
If we’re to take the thousands of studies about the benefits of greenery as gospel, it’s safe to say that foliage can have a restorative effect on people. Being in the presence of natural or high-quality artificial vertical gardens lowers your cortisol levels and stabilizes your hormones.
Aside from that, a room engulfed in greenery improves concentration, memory, and attention span and provides a relaxing hobby suitable for everyone.
The Theory of Colours was a harbinger of understanding the effects of colors on the human psyche.
Although it’s never cut and dry, each color is associated with psychological effects and reaffirmed by decades of research. Some of them include:
- Red represents power and passion by heating up the space
- Yellow embodies happiness and innocence by fostering a nurturing environment
- Green encompasses balance and harmony by producing calmness
- Blue communicates freshness and serenity by promoting productivity
Furniture with sharp edges disrupts the flow of energy and renders you vulnerable to injury from falls. But certain shapes such as circles bestow a calming effect on the mind and body and add visual interest to a room.
A good way to create order and organization in design is by using carefully-chosen decorations in unassertive shapes, such as round green wall panels, round coffee tables, and bowl light fixtures that allow the nervous system to relax.