Use key interior design elements to enhance mental health and wellness year-round
Mental health and wellness comes in all shapes and forms, from companion animals to daily exercise, spirituality to humor — the factors that lead to a healthy headspace are numerous. We locked down a few commonly believed interior design notions thought to improve mental wellness and guide you in the right direction to strengthen the potential mental health properties of your environment.
The notions and concept behind design psychology have been around for centuries, such as in Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese art that uses the energy forces of the surrounding environment to create harmony for its inhabitants. But recent studies have shown that environmental factors such as light, texture, pattern, and colors all can affect mental capacity in a variety of ways.
It’s daunting to think that every interior environment we put ourselves in has the ability to affect and even put stress on the mind and body, but taking note of these key factors can help shape your environments into mental wellness-boosting areas.
In an article by The Dirt, Barbara Stewart, an architect and Feng Shui specialist, said that much like a zoologist would design the perfect natural environment for an animal, humans should emphasize environments that mimic the natural world we lived in prior to urbanization. Her ideas build off the concept of Biophilia; the notion that humans innately crave to be surrounded by other living, natural things. Biophilic Design aims to reconnect humans with elements of nature to improve health, motivate the mind and enhance productivity.
But what does this look like from an interior design perspective?
Think of an outdoor Zen Garden brought inside.
A natural wood or dark floor element subconsciously reminds us of a forest floor or a wooded area. Neutral colors at eye level and bright, light colors towards the ceilings are ideal for replicating natural exterior environments that negate stressors. Patterns and textures in a marble or stone accent provide flowing movement. Plants work in combination with the design as a whole to add to the Biophilic look.
The reasons behind why natural environments promote mental relaxation are numerous. To break it down, there are indications that the brain requires less focus when surrounded by nature versus an urban environment, which requires lots of attention, increasing fatigue, and leading to stress.
Many hospitals and business spaces have even begun using Biophilic design to help obtain the responses they want from people. The results indicate improved well-being and healing, boosted morale, enhanced creativity, and reduced stress.
A Different Perspective
If you’re not gung ho about making whatever space you’re working on into a conceptual forest, you can still bring mood-boosting elements into your own style through colors and textures, light and open space.
A study on how light influences health, said exposure to natural light has also shown mood improvement and increased energy.
From a design standpoint, this could mean adding shades that function to allow lots of natural light into the home during the day and maximum light blocking at night to enhance sleep quality, another huge factor shown to benefit mental wellness.
A natural interior environment won’t necessarily lower stress levels, but studies on the effect of visually chaotic interiors or absence of Biophilic design show marked increased stress levels, even increasing pain medication usage in hospital patients surrounded by such interiors.
With that in mind, check out some more design tips below that could improve mental wellness:
- Fabrics that evoke natural environmental elements can create a sense of relaxation. Though don’t feel limited to patterns of leaves and waves. Geometric patterns and other more modern looks can have similar effects. The goal is to find materials that mimic shapes and sizes that appear in the natural world, and use them in your window treatments, throw pillows or upholstery for example.
- Strategically placed metal accent accessories can convey strength and stability such as a mirror, end table, clock or a lamp.
- Create spatial flow and avoid dead space. This means try to avoid placing a couch directly against a wall or cornering off a seating area. Emphasize height and space in a room through window treatments, creative light fixtures, large mirrors, or paintings. This can make the most of a smaller space, decreasing stress by eliminating a sense of confinement and creating a sense of freedom.
- Engage tactile materials that evoke natural environments such as woven shades, wooden furniture, stone fireplaces or clay tiling. Incorporate plants that bring height and movement to a room. Textured or dark, solid floor coverings, like a shag rug or wood floors can help ground the look.
There is no one right answer when designing your home, but a founding idea to take away is this:
The design of your spaces can influence your daily outlook, so design with that in mind to help boost your mood and happiness, whatever that may be.
A Note on Workspaces
Interest in psychology and design has grown in recent years, especially in regard to maximizing efficiencies in workspaces. Many Americans spend a large number of hours at work a weekly, often spending more time at work than home. While everyone craves a corner office with lots of light, a landscape view, and lots of greenery to take in, that is often not the reality for many in the American workforce.
So, are you stuck in a dark office or a cubicle with no natural light? Good news, even simply surrounding oneself with printed images of natural environments is linked to lowering stress levels. These could be images of spring or summer scenes with lots of green, or even autumn leaves. Plants that need little direct light would also help to improve mental wellness in a small, artificially lit workspace. You could even cluster some foliage together to create a plant screen and make yourself feel more at ease in a natural environment. (Plus, it will improve the air quality, another health boosting benefit!)
Check out our Pinterest Board on Biophilic Inspired Design to get a better feel for the concept, and let us know what you think.
Please note these tips and tricks are design guidelines and are not proven mental health treatments. If you are taking steps to care for your mind, body, and soul but still feel like you are struggling with your mental health, please reach out to a mental health provider for help.
Lafayette Interior Fashions and our dealers are on always on your side to help build your ultimate interior atmosphere. Find your local dealer today.