Nicola Holden Designs – Contemporary Interior Designer, London.

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day, so I thought I would spend some time on today’s blog post looking at the affect that our homes can have on our mental health.  With humans increasingly spending up to 90% of their lives indoors, there is a growing body of scientific evidence showing that how we design our spaces has a direct impact on us psychologically and physically, and therefore on our overall health, happiness and well-being.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in awareness of how our well-being is inherently linked to many aspects of the world around us – what we eat, how much we exercise, how we factor relaxation into our daily routines, and how much sleep we get.  Yet, if you visit your GP / psychologist / therapist, how often do they talk to you about your home or work environment?

In my view, there are four main ways that we can change our homes to improve our state of wellbeing.

  1. Eliminate Clutter

Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up has climbed bestseller lists all over the world as people have embraced the awareness that clutter has a negative effect on our state of mind.  In fact, I have heard it said that being surrounded by clutter is as stressful to us as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder!  So, it goes without saying that the first thing we should do, when it comes to making improvements to our homes, is to de-clutter. 

One way to help achieve this is to have adequate storage for the possessions that we chose to hold on to.  Storage is the one thing that my clients consistently ask for as it is often distinctly lacking in homes, both new and old.  Storage ranges from having a stylish box on your coffee table to hide those ugly TV remotes, to a large bank of built-in cupboards, and everything in between!

  1. Introduce Elements of Nature

I have talked before about the importance of using biophilic design in our homes as a connection with nature has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, enhance creativity and clarity of thought, improve our well-being and speed up healing.

  1. Use Colour

Colour is an incredibly powerful tool to use in our homes.  As Karen Haller, author of The Little Book of Colour says, colour “… communicates feeling, creates a mood, affects our energy, our appetites, our sleep, and has a profound effect on our emotional wellbeing and on the behaviours of everyone we live with.”  

Colour has the power to positively support us emotionally, yet so often we chose to decorate with so called ‘neutral’ colours on behalf of the future buyer of our home, or because of what our friends and family will think if we don’t.  This results in us living in places we don’t really like, in the hope that others will.

However, it’s important to note that when choosing our colours, we need to be mindful to choose the right colour for how we want the space to feel, as well as picking the right shade for our own personalities. 

For example, red invokes a physical response – energy, excitement and passion.  Therefore you might want to use it (sparingly) in an adult’s bedroom, but not so much in a child’s bedroom or in a meditation space.  Yellow stimulates an emotional response – happiness, optimism and confidence, however too much yellow, or using the wrong tone, will lead to us feeling irritable and anxious.  Yellow should be avoided in bedrooms, but is great for hallways where it will inject a burst of sunshine and warmth.  And the so called neutral beige and grey that so many of us surround ourselves with – well, it can become heavy and draining, and make you feel stuck, non-committal and sluggish!

  1. Add Personality

This is the final item that really turns a house into a home.  Stamping our own mark on our space restores our equilibrium in this world, reminds us of our journey through life, and inspires us.

Bringing personality into our homes involves layering in pattern and texture, adding in sparkle with metallic objects, and displaying art, decorative items and collections.  It is about choosing furnishings that play with scale or proportion, and adding in items with quirky, offbeat designs.  It’s the little things that make you smile.

Your home should always tell your unique story.

With these four tips, you can transform you space into one that nurtures you psychologically and physically, contributing to your overall health, happiness and well-being.

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
Maya Angelou

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