[Interior] Designing Happiness
In my post reviewing Happy Money, I quoted a German study that showed no correlation between happiness and home ownership. I still accept those results; “things”—like a new suburban Dutch Colonial--don’t bring happiness as frequently as experiences do. But that is not to say that the interior of that house—how it is furnished and designed—cannot contribute to mental well-being. I’ve gathered some quick tips for a happier abode.
Get Out Those Brushes
Paint—and the color you choose—can drastically change the mood of your interior space. Many of the same principles of Color Theory (which you can read about here) apply to home decorating. Use light colors, like white, cream, and ivory, to make rooms look large. If you’re going for a more intimate ambiance, select a darker color, like navy or plum.
Light it Up
We’ve all been to those department stores with fluorescent lighting that accentuates every flaw and crease on your body, so it’s no surprise that the way a room is illuminated can influence how you feel. A recent study from the University of Toronto demonstrated that brighter lights intensify emotion, both in positive and negative directions. For instance, on sunny days most people feel more optimistic, but people who suffer from depression feel—would you believe it?!—more depressed. This correlation can, in turn, make us more impulsive about decisions made in brightly-lit areas.
Of course, I'm not suggesting you turn your home into the Bat Cave, but think long and hard before you flood your living room with spotlights. Opt for a few tasteful, moderate-watt floor lamps instead to keep your emotions at a pleasant equilibrium.
De-Mess to De-Stress
I once knew a family whose house forever looked like they were in the process of moving in; their living room more resembled the stock room of a UPS store. Even if the Smiths had grown accustomed to the clutter, research shows that a tidy house lowers stress. Why? Clutter—whether it's piles of dishes in the sink or books and paper strewn about the desk—introduces a surfeit of stimuli, making it difficult to concentrate on the important tasks on hand. Stress of this variety is a dominant barrier to mental calmness, so next time your significant other asks you to pick up your socks, don’t do it out of appeasement, but because you’re taking one step closer to happiness.
Scents of Happiness
Smell is one of the most powerful stimuli used to recall memory. Have you ever stepped outside in late September and said to yourself, “Wow, it suddenly smell likes autumn?” The correlation between memory and scent is likely the result of brain anatomy; the olfactory lobe has two connections to the brain’s memory centers.
What does this mean for interior design? If smell can induce memory recall, it stands to reason that it can also influence emotion. If incense make you think of hippies and yoga, opt for something more subtle, like scented candles or diffusers.
Interior design aesthetics span a spectrum, from shabby chic to modern. Whatever your preference--whether you like lace and florals or stainless steel and glass--there are some easy elements you can incorporate into your home to ensure your living space brings just as much happiness as the life you are living!