How does design affect our wellbeing?
We experience our world through the five senses: touch, sight, smell, sound and taste. To understand and react to our surroundings, each of these senses relays important information to the brain, triggering emotions and helping us form an opinion of our surroundings. Is it safe? Is it comfortable? Do we feel at ease in this space? Answering these questions fills a primal need in us all for shelter and security. Thinking about the feel of a room, not just the look, is something anyone designing their home should come back to again and again. But how does the way we design interiors reflect these emotional responses?
Colour psychology is a useful tool for your own interior design. By thinking carefully about the emotional impact of colours, you can use it to create a palette to work from. Different colours provoke different reactions, so colours with a similar feel will often work naturally together to create harmony and unified space. In broad strokes, you can group colours by how they make you feel. At The Vale, for example, we try to keep hues in a calming palette, so creating a comfortable space is that much easier.
Take pink, for example. A study of Swiss prisons found that when they painted some of the cells in pale pink, the prisoners in those cells calmed down on average fifteen minutes faster. Pink is also very flattering on the skin, making it a great choice for bedrooms and bathrooms. Coco Chanel always painted her bathrooms in the pink spectrum for this exact reason. And it doesn’t end with pink - all colours have their own stories. The Victorians thought blue kept flies away, so they often painted their kitchens or bathrooms that colour. Blue became associated with hygiene, a feeling that still echoes through our culture today.
The idea is that the colours should all be working together to create an overall emotion or feeling. Be careful to keep things working in harmony, as adding contrast will change the dynamic of the space. The issue here isn’t necessarily the strength or shade of the colour - but how it affects the mood of the room. There’s a shade of every colour for everyone, and that’s part of what makes colour psychology so fascinating and universal.
Textures can have just as much impact on the mood of a space as colour. The touch of a luxurious thick-pile carpet adds another dimension to what we typically experience with our eyes, and can add to the comfort and happiness we feel in the space. Bedding and curtains in natural materials, patterns and textures also have a calming and restorative effect.
Adding different layers of texture can add visual as well as tactile enjoyment in a room, no matter how simple the scheme. Silk, for example, reflects light in a completely different way to linen or wool. By choosing fabrics and wallpapers with a sheen to them, you allow more light to bounce around the room, creating a feeling of space and airiness. With heavier weaves, more light is absorbed, for a cosier, cocoon-like feel. Rougher textures tend to create warmth, whereas smooth ones add simplicity and elegance. You can have lots of fun combining them to create character and unique personality to every part of your home. Different textures also add more dimension of colour as the way fibres absorb dye varies from material to material. Fabrics like our Timeless Linen have a more subtle appearance, due to the fine weave, building a sense of comfort and warmth.
A good tip for choosing textures to fit your interiors is to look at the textures of your favourite clothes. Chances are you’ve picked textures that make you comfortable, relaxed and happy - so why not extend the feeling into your home?
Getting out and about in nature puts you back in touch with life and can raise your energy levels, making you feel more animated and positive. People who spend more time outdoors, or want to bring the feeling of outside in, often have a brighter outlook on life. This ‘natural high’ affects everything, even your performance at work and your outlook on life. When you feel more alive and active, you can put more effort into your work, your family life and all the things that bring you joy.
Having beautiful flowers around the home has been proven to reduce stress and soothe the senses. Studies have found that people who regularly keep flowers in their home, or decorate with floral patterns feel happier and more relaxed - and we definitely agree! So much of the inspiration behind The Vale collections comes from Melinda Marquardt’s own love of nature and botany - particularly from her regular visits to Kew Gardens. The positivity you feel when your home is full of natural elements can also reduce anxiety and improve your general mental health.
Your choice to fill your home with nature apparently also hints at the kind of person you might be. People who care for nature are also more likely to care for others, tend to engage more with their communities and build stronger bonds of friendship. Spending time around animals and plants tends to bring out people’s natural compassion for each other, as their appreciation for their environment grows. In fact, if you love incorporating plant and animal motifs into your home, it may be a sign that you’re kinder than the average person. People also tend to associate living in areas of natural beauty with a higher quality of life so, if your home is decorated with natural tones and patterns, chances are visitors will always feel welcome.
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