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Five ways to improve your wellbeing through your interiors

Tessa Jones in How to Guides — 03.04.2020

As the rise in trends such as yoga, clean eating and meditation shows, we are all becoming increasingly aware of how to take care of our mental and physical wellbeing. While this has become more difficult in the current climate, it is now more important than ever to consider how our interiors can be used to promote a positive effect on our health and happiness. As we all begin to adapt to the new normal, here are a few things to consider to help you create a space in which to flourish.

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Photo: Photo by Max van den Oetelaar

Colour

It is well known that colour can have a huge impact on the look and feel of a space, and there are many theories surrounding the types of emotion each shade can conjure up. The german writer Johann Wolfgang van Goethe famously assigned certain properties to different colours: Red was associated with the 'beautiful', yellow with 'good', orange was 'noble', whilst green was 'useful', blue was 'common' and violet 'unnecessary'. This theory has since been developed and many people now associate yellow and green with positivity and health, and pink is believed to have calming properties. But overall you should consider your own emotional response to different colours and what purpose your rooms will be used for. Your favourite colours may not be the ones that make you feel most safe and secure when painted across your walls. Many people feel more relaxed when surrounded by light and soft neutral tones, but for some, surrounding themselves with bold and bright shades makes them feel more at ease.

Light

Essential for giving us our daily dose of Vitamin D, studies show that natural light can also improve our productivity and overall mood whilst reinforcing our circadian rhythms. Whatever size your space is, make the most of natural light with plenty of mirrors and glass or polished surfaces to bounce light around the room. Use clever combinations of lamps to mimic patterns of daylight throughout your home. Turning off ceiling lights in the evenings in favour of floor and table lamps will help to create a soft and relaxing space for you to unwind in.

Photo: Ben Wu Residential project

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Materials & Nature

Since ancient times we have endeavoured to combine our living spaces with elements of the natural world. Take for example, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the tradition of Christmas trees or the modern obsession of keeping houseplants and succulents. The theory of biophilia suggests that as humans we have inherited an instinctive need to connect with nature. Bringing these elements into our home will help to reinforce that connection, boosting our mood and helping us to feel more grounded. House plants are an obvious way to do this, but look for other organic materials such as wood or marble incorporated into pieces of furniture, as well as natural fabrics such as cotton or linen. Even visual reminders of nature are said to have an impact so photographic prints like this one are a great addition to your gallery wall.

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The natural environment is what we were created to excel in, so we tend to be drawn to elements that would have once helped support our survival and wellbeing

Lily Bernheimer
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Space

Our homes have now become our offices, gyms, schools and playgrounds as well as our places of rest, so the introduction of zoning is necessary for creating some separation in our daily activities. It's also a chance to design our homes around the lives we want to lead. The clever placement of a rug or armchair can help to define areas for different activities. If you want to spend more time reading perhaps create a reading corner with some open shelves for books and a cosy chair. Or maybe meditation has become an important part of your daily routine, in which case carve out a small space to sit and be surrounded by your favourite things and a calming peace of artwork. It is important to take the time to consider how you would like to use different parts of your home and then designing your space around these functions.

Photo: Olivia Emery - Residential project

Shape

The effect shapes can have on our mental wellbeing is a subtlety that is often overlooked, but studies have shown that humans have an instinctive preference for curved and circular forms. A 2011 study revealed that infants as young as five months favoured contoured lines over straight ones while other studies have shown that we tend to connect circles with feelings of safety and calm. Compared to angular shapes which we associate with danger like thorns on a rose bush or sharp teeth for example. You can bring these theories into your interiors through the use of circular artwork, mirrors and lighting for a sense of balance and security.

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Photo: Daun Curry - The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas 'Curiosities' Suite

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