When it comes to boosting your mood, your home is one of the most important factors to look at. Many people recognize the more popular keys to mental health, like a healthy diet, exercise and relaxation. But a handful of individuals may not recognize that a well-designed living space can also be transformative for your mental health. It can do wonders to improve your mood.
Designing your home to support positivity is an important priority and can be achieved no matter what your budget is. Here are seven tips for designing a mood-boosting home.
Japanese Home Design
Many admire Japanese architecture and design because it represents a simpler, less materialistic way of living. Incorporating Japanese design is not so much about what you bring into your home as what you remove from it. Japanese Home Design is distinguished by four principles, many of which are explained here: minimalism, nature, versatility, and cleanliness. Interestingly enough, Japanese home design aligns well with many aspects of what psychologists consider to be mood friendly home designs.
One of the least expensive ways to begin re-designing your home to improve mood is to de-clutter it. Minimalism is a celebrated interior design approach ideal for reducing stress and opening up your mind. Minimalism is a value structure that emphasizes necessity and function over excess and indulgence. The idea is that every item or object in your home should have a clear purpose and reason for being there, if not for intentional use.
Decluttering has positive effects on mental and physical health and generally makes homes healthier, happier, cleaner and more productive. However, the level of decluttering necessary to improve mood is going to differ depending on each person. You only need to have enough personal items around you to ground you and personalize your home.
Many organizational experts suggest adopting the mantra of purging at least one item in your household for every new item you purchase. Additionally, a cultural practice from Scandinavia, Swedish Death Cleaning has migrated recently to American households. Swedish Death Cleaning is a cultural practice common to the elderly in Sweden who purge possessions in anticipation of their demise. They do this so that their children do not have to be burdened with that task when they die.
It’s important to consider there is no reason we cannot integrate this practice into our lives now. A third trend in decluttering and minimalism is the “Spark Joy” notion of only including items in your home that bring you joy.
Incorporating the principle of nature into an interior home design plan is an effective method to improve mood. Consider using the five natural elements earth, air, fire, water, and wood as sources of inspiration. These elements can be incorporated into any aspect of home design including any choice of art, color, space, flooring or furniture. In Japanese home design, creating transitional spaces between indoors and outdoors, integrating plant life into your home, ensuring natural light can enter and incorporating water and wood elements, where appropriate, are ways to bring nature into your home design.
To keep it affordable, consider the natural elements your home or apartment already has. This includes wooden beams, stone hearths, natural wood floors or doors, cabinetry. Also think about how these features can be revitalized, enhanced or highlighted. Adding natural elements can be as simple as incorporating a well-placed succulent or bamboo tree, both of which are small, inexpensive and easy to care for. Repainting with earthy neutrals such as soft greens, grays, whites and browns, also brings a nature-like feel to your home.
Speaking of color, proponents of color psychology argue that the colors used to decorate your home can have a significant impact on mood. But consider this, when it comes to which room you are repainting, not all mood enhancing colors are created equal. Consider the primary function of the room you are repainting. If it’s a kitchen, warm colors like yellow and terra cotta are more effective. If it’s a bedroom, blues, greens, and lavenders are great choices.
Although paint can get quite expensive, be careful about buying the cheapest brand, as you may actually need more paint to get a strong enough coat. It also might not hold up to wear and tear. Consumer Reports advises, “don’t buy a beautiful shade of mediocre paint.” Good Housekeeping recommends brands like Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Glidden and Pratt & Lambert.
Lately, research suggests that our over-dependence on gadgets and screens may be adding more stress to our lives, distract us from fostering healthy human relationships and rob us of our connection with nature. Is there technology for our home that can help us? Since cooking for yourself is one of the best ways to ensure your health, the kitchen is one of the best places in the home to find health-enhancing technology. Whether it’s a great juicer, mixer or soup maker, consider incorporating great health and mood enhancing technology into your kitchen design.
Additionally, don’t forget to think about air quality. Even though the air we breathe is invisible, it should also be part of our interior home design. We have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors as part of a Home Safety Protection Plan, but what about other forms of air pollution? Consider the Netatmo Healthy Home Coach—it detects air quality, humidity, temperature, and noise. It also provides advice on how to create a healthier home.
Rearranging space is also an inexpensive method for redesigning your home in order to improve mood. Although to be fair, you may still have to buy someone a pizza to help you move furniture. Bustle states that one of the biggest mistakes people make when they move in is shove their couch and bed up against the wall or into a corner. However, that creates negative energy and dead space. Bustle suggests trying to resist the urge to place everything symmetrically. Instead, think of balance.
Finally, play with lighting- both natural and artificial to find the right mood in each space no matter what time of day. Consider a Himalayan salt lamp for ambiance and replace harsh LEDs or CFLs with energy-efficient bulbs.
Other than our upholstered pieces, our furniture is often dominated by sharp edges. To improve mood in a room, incorporate “soft geometry,” the use of curves on hard edges such as cabinets, counters, and furniture. Sharp edges and corners tend to increase anxiety and stress in the unconscious mind, whereas curved decor helps the body to relax.
However, many of us do not have a large new furniture budget. And while IKEA is the go-to store for inexpensive furniture, there are many other options out there. First and foremost, consider reclaimed materials, consignment stores, and antique shops and auctions to locate unusual, interesting and retro pieces. They can be more affordable than IKEA, and, if a little worse for wear, might make a great refinishing project.
Amanda Turner is a freelance writer and recent graduate who is exploring her passions through writing.