The Co-relation Between the Interiors of a Home and the Mental Health of its Residents

By Shiitaal Budhrauj   views

Have you ever perceived a shift in your mood and energies as you wander about the various rooms of your house? Do you tend to prefer lounging about in a particular room much more than other rooms? Does your energy seem lighter and more buoyant in one room than the others? Did it occur to you to co-relate it with some variables like the influx of natural light in that room, height of the ceiling, color of the paint on the walls of that room, presence of living plants and/or lack of clutter?

Research now shows a definite co-relation between the interiors of a home and the mental health of its residents. You may be aware of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that affects the moods of people in winters. As a result of the cold weather and lack of adequate sunlight, a lot of people do not venture outside and stay cooped up indoors. Hence, they are not exposed to the volume of natural light that they would be normally, in the summer. As a result, they feel low, depressed, sluggish, irritated and anxious -they experience the blues. Then can you imagine how a home which does not permit adequate influx of sunlight on a regular basis, must be impacting the mental health of its residents.

Light is known to have significant biological and psychological effects. When light impacts our biological patterns, it can disrupt or enhance our sleep patterns, cognition and overall sense of wellbeing. It can regulate our circadian rhythms, enabling us to get a better and sounder quality of sleep at night. On a more serious note, light can decrease depression levels and even enhance cognitive performance for example reaction time and activation.

Circadian rhythm is our internal clock. It greatly affects the secretion of melatonin, the activity of cortisol activity and mental alertness. Whenever the melatonin level dips inside our bodies, we experience difficulty in getting restful sleep which eventually translates into behavioural problems for the next few days.

Photo by Sara Yoder, Interior Styling by Kristy Oatman for Laura Medicus Interiors

Circadian rhythm has a direct co-relation with the limbic system. This system controls an individual’s feelings of happiness, sadness, anger and other emotions. A disturbed rhythm can play havoc with these emotions. For having a balanced mind and an upbeat mood, it is important to choose a home wherein, the architecture and interiors of the home allow for an influx of abundant natural light in at least 2- 3 rooms and/or in the common living area. In the same vein, having plenty of windows also helps.

Another element that has a deep impact on the mental equilibrium of the resident of a home is the presence of textures, which the brain has positive associations with. It has been established by research that distinct textures, patterns and shapes of knick-knacks in the home form sensory encounters in the brain, which in turn, fosters a feeling of a lived-in space. This feeling gives birth to an element of interaction between the resident and his home, a feeling that nurtures his/her sense of security in that aesthetic space. For example, textures that imitate the flow of water or resemble nature in the form of a plant, instantaneously promote feelings of contentment, tranquillity and a positive mental attitude. This kind of visual energy can be enhanced into any niche and corner of the house by the addition of real living plants, fabric (upholstery and home linen) with such a pattern in its weave or print. The same can be the case with wallpapers. That is also one of the reasons why wave-like patterns resem-

Image Credit: Woodpecker Flooring

bling the ocean wave or the bark of a tree have found their way in laminate designs for floors and artificial marble countertops. Now you can easily guess the reason behind hardwood floors being so popular — they replicate the forest floor. Incorporating nature or textural elements resembling nature induces a feeling of relaxation and wellness; it provides a gentle succour after a harsh day spent earning a livelihood within the concrete cubicles of an office environment. 

The influence of the color of wall paint of the walls on the overall mood of the inhabitants has been known all along. For instance, it has been known that advertising agencies with dull boring walls have a stifling impact on the creativity of its team members. Painting a wall bright red or orange can eject a vibrancy and amplify the energy of onlookers. It is for this very reason that orange is the go-to color of many gym studios.  Bedrooms need to be restorative and a place where one’s batteries are recharged after a heavy day in the external world. In that sense, it could be useful to paint the walls of the bedroom a soothing shade of blue or a teal green.

Stefano Pilati’s Paris duplex- (Photo Credits): Björn Wallander

Lastly, enough cannot be said about the co-relation between an organized space and that too a minimalistic one and a steady, calm temperament. Clutter and stuffing of too much furniture overwhelms and overcrowds the mind. For optimum functioning of the mind-psyche labyrinth, it is imperative to keep the spaces that are frequently inhabited free of clutter and organised to the T. The mind tends to feel calm and at-ease in such an environment. When the mind is peaceful, easy and in a state of equanimity, it is more likely to come up with productive ideas to enhance the quality of life – it becomes more solution-focused than problem-driven.

In interior Design, the volume of natural light, the textural elements of nature imitating patterns, the color of the walls, minimalism in the layout of furniture and eradication of clutter, collectively, impact the mental equilibrium of the residents. These elements have a lasting impact on the overall state of well-being of the residents.

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