We all know that good mental health is key to physical health and overall wellbeing. But did you know that your surroundings, including your home decor, can have a significant impact on your emotions and mental wellness? Here are five elements to consider when choosing home decor for good mental health.
1. Clear the Clutter
The very first thing to do to improve your space's impact on your mental health is remove the clutter. Intuitively it makes sense. We feel less productive and more burdened when we're working with a messy desk. A home we haven't finished moving into can make us feel stagnant or unsettled.
Research shows that being in a cluttered environment has negative effects on our cognition, our emotions, and even on our relationships.
Why wait? Make a pile to donate, a pile to toss, and a pile to pack away and store. Then make sure you follow through with the intention for each pile! The neater space will energize you and help you feel focused and peaceful. Major victory, and we're only on step one!
2. The "Color Cure"
Color can also have a significant impact on our mental health. Historically known as the "color cure," healthcare institutions have a long history of using color to help soothe the body and mind. An early use of color therapy in the United States was at a mental asylum in Wards Island, where doctors used color to try to treat mental illness. Bright rooms with an emphasis on red colors were used to treat patients with depression or melancholy. Calming blues and greens were introduced to rooms housing violent patients. Purple hues were thought to help patients experiencing insanity. Black rooms were prescribed for patients with mania.
Results were mixed, but enough success has been seen over the years in various forms that the use of color therapy persists and is widely used in a more subtle form commonly known as "color psychology." Purple is a nice choice for a soothing bedroom, while a cheery yellow is perfect for a morning breakfast nook. Stark white has been popular over the past few years, but the look can be a little harsh and doesn't take full advantage of what color can do to help your psyche.
Just look at the room below — it's nearly impossible to feel gloomy in this setting of cheerful brights!
To make your own "color cure," think about colors that make you feel different subtle emotions and use them to your benefit. One of my favorite choices is a very soft pink, which makes me feel optimistic and peaceful. It also has the added benefit of creating a beautiful glow.
Once you pick your main color, select a couple of neutrals to go with it, plus an accent color that will pop. Use this color wheel tool for a little extra help, or some additional ideas. You now have your cohesive color palette and can design your room with those colors in mind.
If you're looking for wallpaper to be part of your decor, search by color to find the perfect match.
3. Artful Arrangement
Designing your home for good mental health goes beyond just color and clutter. You'll also want to make sure your surroundings are arranged in the most beneficial way possible. For guidance we can look to the ancient art of feng shui.
Just one example of how feng shui can create more calm in your space is use of the "commanding position" principle. The idea is that the spot you spend the most time in within the room (e.g. your bed, your desk, etc.) should be at the furthest point from the door, but not in direct line with it. This provides a clear line of sight to the entry point and at a deep level allows you to feel settled and relaxed.
4. Invite Some Nature Inside
Also important in designing a space for good mental health is allowing some of the natural world into the room. The most basic form would be natural light through a window. As almost all of us have experienced, working in a room without a window for long periods feels draining. That first step outside is such a relief! If at all possible, make sure the rooms you spend the most time in have a window.
Here are some other ways to support your mental wellbeing through natural elements in home decor:
- Keep live plants in your main rooms (but be sure to compost or toss any that are dead!)
- Arrange cut flowers, greenery, or branches in a vase
- Choose furniture and decor made from natural materials like wood, wool, or stone
- Select patterns that reflect the natural world, such as leaves or florals
Always having an indoor reference to nature can make us feel grounded and allows for clarity of thought and emotional tranquility.
5. Design for Easy Maintenance
Another important but often overlooked way your home influences your mental — and physical — health is allergens. Dust can have a seriously negative effect on health, causing itchy eyes, sneezing, and mental fog. It's not just the dust particles themselves, but also the mold spores and other irritants that catch a ride on the dust and cause troublesome symptoms that get worse over time. When you're not at your best physically, it's hard to be in top form mentally.
To help keep your house free of allergens, choose decor that's easy to clean or that doesn't trap dust. A leather couch or one with a washable slipcover is a smart choice. Instead of a macrame wall hanging you may want to consider framed art or wallpaper that's easier to dust.
Changes I'm Making
Like many of us, I'm working from home full time now and I've adopted some decor and home changes to help me feel my best throughout the day:
- Moved my desk to the sunniest room in the house
- Regularly clear clutter from my desk area and other main spaces in my home
- Added my favorite botanical wall mural to the dining room
- Vacuum daily (I know...but it's become a nice ritual)
- Keep fresh flowers and plants inside
- Painted some mis-matched elements to create a more cohesive color story (the banister, side table, etc)
I hope these ideas give you a jumping off point to think of ways your home decor can improve your mental health. If you're like me and spend a significant amount of time in your home, let's do what we can to make decor choices that improve our mental and physical wellbeing.
If you have a room that just makes you feel so good, share it with us on Instagram — tag @musewallstudio and we'll give your 'gram some love.
- Emily from MUSE