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How to: Design for Happiness and Well-being


This time of year - the time change and the long, gloomy winter days can create a very isolating situation for your mindset. Especially now, while we spend more time isolated in our home than we ever have, it’s easy and very normal to feel this isolation more strongly than ever. As designers, we want everyone to feel their absolute best within their home - that’s what we do best for our clients, but unfortunately not everyone can easily feel this way. We’ve said in a previous blog that the Interior of your home has a very strong correlation with your mindset and reaction to your mood - it’s more than true. Quite obviously, we are very passionate about home design, but also about mental health. As we all struggle through the winter months, we thought now is a great time to share our thoughts on the importance of mental well-being and happiness, but also in relation to interiors. In consideration of #BellLetsTalk month, we thought that we would dive right in with some of our points of consideration during the design process. From the visual appearance of the space, to the lighting and ergonomics - they all impact our overall experience in our home as a whole. Evidently, we want every experience to be the best for yourself within your home - a space that is a reflection of you, and encourages a positive mindset - and here are some ways that you can hopefully do this.



Lighting



I’m sure most of us can relate to the feeling that we get once the time change occurs in the fall and through the winter - very unenergized and unmotivated. Many refer to this as The Winter Blues - which often corrects itself in the early weeks in Spring, for most. Although we’re obviously Interior Designers not mental health professionals, we’ve learned that this happens to so many of us because of one very key factor - lighting. As it gets darker earlier, our bodies are naturally and factually affected because we rely so much on the sunlight for Serotonin, and even Melatonin. So, how does this relate to interior design? It plays more of a role on us than most would truly consider. For a quick explanation - light bulbs are made up of something called Kelvins, which are what affect the warmness or the coolness of the bulb or light temperature. Whichever light temperature bulb we choose for our rooms, can affect how we feel within each of those spaces. For instance, have you ever realized that being on your phone just before bed can make it hard to completely shut down your mind to sleep? Blue light from our phone can keep us awake at night - same goes for cool temperature light bulbs (5000K-6500K). Whereas warm lighting (2700-3000K) can be related to a warm summer day and keep us more relaxed, but often less productive. Since lighting/sunlight produces Serotonin and Melatonin for our bodies, not only is our happiness and energy levels quickly affected through the winter, but also our circadian rhythms. This is why we not only feel a little down this time of year, but also sometimes have trouble sleeping. What do all of our houses have in common? We all have lighting! Which can actually adjust our overall mood, energy levels and everyday patterns.


What you can do:


To feel better overall in your home, consider each room in your home and the purpose of it. Say for instance that you have a home office and that you’re finding it difficult to focus on your work, especially through the winter months. Check your light temperature! Although many people dislike fluorescent lighting, blue light has been found to keep you more productive and focused. Many cooler toned lights are actually called Daylight bulbs, because they are so similar to natural daylight and therefore give us that energy boost that we especially crave through the winter. Things that seem quite obvious can help a considerable amount, like opening your blinds up through the day to experience that natural light. Many of us are stuck working from our home, so try and work in a room that provides you with natural daylight, if you can. In addition, since so many people struggle with the same unbalanced sleeping pattern this time of year - keeping warmer bulbs in your bedroom can actually encourage a better night's sleep as it relaxes your mind, rather than keeping you productive. Although none of these things can keep the sun from going down earlier, you can increase the light layering in your home to brighten it up and make it feel less gloomy. We’ve read that bright light can actually increase the intensity of your emotions overall, and also help you to feel physically warmer without an actual change in temperature. So, a few quick changes can actually impact you very positively if you’ve been feeling off, like many of us.



Biophilic Design


The design world has seen many many trends over the past few years, some are unfortunately very hard to forget - ALL white everything, Rustic/Modern Farmhouse and those geometric millwork accent walls. Our personal favourite current trend though, is incorporating Biophilic design into your home. With a quick google, you can see just how organic these spaces can look. But, you can accomplish a more manageable organic design with just a few things - and if you follow us, you know that we’re experts on organic interiors. We have definitely talked about Biophilic design in a previous blog, but if you are unaware of what this is - it regards incorporating items found in nature into your home such as stone, woods & natural linens. We relate these features to what we naturally see in our outdoor environment, and naturally become more relaxed and grounded. Since we’re spending more time than ever indoors - some of us not even leaving our homes for work - why not bring some of that natural outdoor feeling inside to you, where it can successfully help your state of being.


What you can do:


Obviously, it is a completely unrealistic standard for everyone to renovate their home by adding natural stone and wood finishes. We’re here to tell you just small changes that you can make to potentially notice a change in yourself. For instance, adding simple greenery in rooms throughout your home! Plants are energizing for our minds and increase positivity levels, just like being outside can do for you. In addition, switching out decor pieces or furnishings to more raw & organic styled pieces - for instance a Kin Shoppe Dough Bowl, Ceramic vases, or a Raw Wood Console Table. Adding texture through these materials, or even through throw blankets can help to create depth, and a more impactful experience overall. We could go on about the importance of colour in your home, and we will in a point to come - but in relation to biophilic design, earth tones are a key component that create a complete energized space. Lastly and most expensively, if you are considering a renovation in the near future, consider more natural materials like stone, natural woods & a textured zellige glazed tile. These materials are not only currently on trend, but they are also timeless pieces so you know that you’re going to get your money’s worth, as it never ages.



Colour Psychology



One thing that many of our clients struggle with is deciding on paint colours for their home, and there’s a reason for this! Colour is a huge part of the design process. A colour can truly change the room in more ways than one. Not only can a paint choice visually change a room, but it can also impact how we feel and react in that space - similar to light temperature. Colour Psychology is in fact a thing, and we’ve learned to (mostly) work within a specific range of colours so that all of our clients feel the true comfort of their homes. If you haven’t heard of the true effects of colour psychology, it’s actually incredibly interesting and hopefully not just for us. I personally learned about this topic in college, and that each colour can affect our energy levels and mood within any room. As an example, I learned to never use yellow in a nursery because it actually brings up energy levels and increases the chance that your child will be fussy or cry. Also, never use blue in a dining room because we unknowingly relate this colour to finding mold in our food, and it psychologically suppresses our appetite. Without going completely through the colour wheel, I’m sure you've grasped the concept. However, if you are interested in specific colours and what their effects are, there are great articles that will explain each colour in depth, so that I’m keeping this short and sweet.



What you can do:


If you’re finding that the paint colour in your home is feeling quite weary on your mood, it may be time to switch it up! Of course, we’re huge fans of neutrals - they actually give great opportunities to bring in undertones that will positively affect you, without overwhelming your room. In our opinion, avoid too bright of a colour - and if you do use a bold colour choice, try and find a muted alternative of that choice. This way it won’t feel so overstimulating, but will still create a beautiful impact. We’ll be honest, of course we love a statement for a room, and colour is an amazing opportunity to do this. Also consider how a paint colour will grow with the space. Neutrals or earth tones are most always timeless, and therefore you won’t have to quickly repaint if you soon outgrow a bold colour choice. However, if you do really want to use a bold colour choice that isn’t so muted, just consider where you’re putting it! For instance, a powder room is a great opportunity for a bold colour as it won’t affect your mood so impact-fully since it is not in a common living area. Overall, do whatever makes you happy within your own home, and personalize it to you - that is absolutely what is most important. We just want to share our thoughts for those struggling with their home and how it makes them feel, but we encourage you to always be unique!


Designing for you!



When designing a home, we get to know our clients on a very personal level - we’re in the most intimate spaces in their homes, so we learn a lot. This is important though, because every single client has specific needs and wants from the next and we need to learn those as much as possible. Designing and decorating a home is not just putting pretty things together to make it visually beautiful - although that is a huge part of it for sure. We want to create spaces specifically tailored to our clients - from the colour choices, right down to the height of the seating or how you’re going to age with your space. Your home should be the best representation of you! This helps you to feel your happiest within your home, but allows you to feel your most comfortable in your home - and we know we’re all spending enough time there.



What you can do:


You feel best in a space that reflects you - your style, what you love and feel inspired by yourself. So, if your home is feeling bland and doesn’t bring you some happiness, start with a design style that you love and work with it. Small changes like switching out your toss cushions, small decor and artwork can help a space to reflect you better, and feel more inspiring. When I say design for you, I mean it! Although we love purchasing furniture online, we do encourage our clients to get out and test furniture for themselves. A chair that feels perfect for one person, may feel uncomfortable for the next person - it just comes down to how we’re built. This goes for furniture as well - buy furniture that suits your personal ergonomics, and it will be perfectly comfortable and designed for you. This also applies for hardware in relation to your age or personal abilities, and materials/finishes or fabrics in relation to your family or your lifestyle. Each of our clients have different needs that we tailor to, and you can do the same for yourself to make your home more unique to you and your needs. In addition, consider everything we’ve previously touched on! Colour choice, lighting & the overall decor you choose - choose everything in relation to what reflects yourself, your everyday activities & what will encourage your positive response.



Design reaches so much further than the surface level experience of being visually appealing. However, we know many people don’t recognize this because of the beautiful photos viewed online from designers. We love to continue to learn and grow through reading, watching videos and hopefully soon - going to trade shows to experience new technology & designs. This way, we’re always able to give our clients the best possible designs that are unique to them. This time of year can definitely be draining for many - we feel it too - but we want you to know that it’s not going to stick around forever. We really hope that if you’re feeling this winter seems extra heavy, you can find some useful information from this and can apply it to help your lifestyle. We want everyone to feel that same happiness and comfort through their home, that we try to give to all of our clients. Only a few more months to go, and we’ll be seeing the sunshine and feeling the warmth again.



Our research from reading:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/89053/7-ways-lighting-can-make-your-home-happier