It may come as no surprise that our lived environment has a direct impact on your mood. Given the amount of time we spend in our homes, taking the factors of home design that influence your mood are important when you plan to build, renovate, or decorate your home.
Read on to learn about 7 elements of home design that have an affect on your mood, and how you can influence your mood through home design.
Study after study has shown the benefit that access to sufficient natural light has on both our physical and mental well-being.
Not only does access to natural light boost vitamin D production (which is key for a healthy immune system), but access to natural light is important to maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm and sleep patterns. As any parent of young kids can tell you, just a few nights of disturbed or insufficient sleep can have a negative affect on mood!
Sufficient natural light doesn’t just benefit our physical wellbeing, but also our psychological health and mood. A lack of daylight can make us feel down, depressed and anxious. Likewise, the significance of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in parts of the world with reduced sunlight hours in winter months demonstrates how important daylight is to our mental wellbeing.
When designing a new home, ensure that your home design provides for ample natural light. At My Modern Home we recommend incorporating large windows, or floor to ceiling window,s into your home design. When paired with an open floor plan design in particular, large windows will allow ample natural light to penetrate through your floor plan.
Another strategy that we recommend to improve access to ample natural light, even in climates with long winter months, is to consider skylight or courtyard home designs for your home.
While humans have adapted to urban lifestyles over the past several thousand years, we have millennia of evolutionary forces that link our physical and psychological systems to a life closely connected to nature. It’s no wonder then, that study after study reveals that staying close to nature improves physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Time spent in nature and connecting to the natural environment helps in emotional regulation and improves memory functions, provides significant mood uplift for those suffering from depression, and has been shown to reduce stress by lowering the stress hormone cortisol. A study at the University of Kansas has even found that spending more time outdoors and less time with our electronic devices can increase our problem-solving skills and improve creative abilities.
Given that we spend so much of our time indoors, and that many of us do live in urban areas, how can our home design help us connect to nature?
Of course, the most obvious way to connect to nature at home is to create comfortable outdoor living spaces in your yard. Outdoor living rooms and dining areas, and even outdoor kitchens, can help us to spend more time outdoors during temperate weather months. If you live in a densely populated area, take advantage of screens, fences, and planted landscaping to create privacy even in the middle of the city.
Even in cold or wet weather, we can still connect to nature within our homes using the right strategies of home design.
Not only do large or floor to ceiling windows provide natural light, but large, strategically placed windows can also help us to connect to the natural world beyond our interior walls even while we remain indoors. Place the largest windows in your home to take advantage of any views that your lot may offer. Consider planting and landscaping to create nature-scapes even if you have a small inner-city lot.
Courtyard home plans are becoming increasingly popular, as homeowners look to maximize access to natural light, connect to the outdoors, and even improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
Courtyard home designs create excellent opportunities to connect to nature, both from inside your home and within the outdoor courtyard space. Even in extreme climates, courtyards can be a usable outdoor space year-round as they are sheltered in cold or windy weather and provide protection from extreme heat and sun in summer months. If you love to garden, you may find that your courtyard even allows you to create a micro-climate, capable of growing plants that are not usually native to your area.
When you plan your home design, take the time to think about your lifestyle and the needs that your future home should accommodate.
Whether you plan to purchase a house design online, or engage an architect, it’s a good idea to start with a design brief - a document that describes your background information, space needs, and any specific requirements you may have for your home. This document is invaluable as it gives you an opportunity to reflect on how you live, what you value, and how your home will support your lifestyle and values. Living in a home that supports your lifestyle (whether that means hosting lavish dinner parties, a space for your morning yoga routine, or a space for crafting or art) will positively influence your mood.
For a deep dive into considerations that can help you design a floor plan that takes each of your lifestyle needs into consideration, read My Modern Home’s blog, Questions To Ask When Designing a House.
Apart from rooms and designing a floor plan to support your lifestyle, consider the importance of room layout and design that makes life more convenient and comfortable.
Especially for spaces that need to meet utilitarian needs as well as social needs (for example, your kitchen) this is particularly important. When possible, provide more than one access point in and out of utilitarian spaces, such as the kitchen, butler’s pantry, and laundry room and provide for more than one “work zone” so that working together comfortable and fun.
While access to ample natural light is important, the reality is that we all rely on electric lighting as well. In most rooms, lighting should be provided to meet three different needs:
- General Lighting: The lighting elements that provide even light across the entire room;
- Task Lighting: Provides light specifically over the work surfaces. In the kitchen, an example would include fixtures over the main kitchen island while in your home office, this would include a desk lamp.
- Ambiance Lighting: Lighting elements that may not be directly in or over your work space, but which contribute to the atmosphere your home.
Ideally, these three lighting elements are able to be switched independently to maximize effectiveness and to give choice and variety to meet the multiple functions in your home. A well-lit space is more convenient, more comfortable, and can boost the mood of those that use these spaces on a regular basis.
Consider also taking advantage of smart lighting technologies, such as smart bulbs, switches and sensors, which continue to become more affordable. Lighting systems that adjust light intensity based on room conditions and which help to maintain circadian rhythm can also improve your mood and the efficiency of your home.
How does room decoration affect mood? While it may seem a bit bourgeoise to claim that room decoration, interior finishes, and creature comforts impact mood, the fact is that we feel more positive when we spend time in a space that reflects our design aesthetic and that provides a comfortable place to work, rest, or socialize.
What “comfortable” means will vary by the individual, but some factors to take into consideration when designing the interior of your home include:
Bright, open, and visually uncluttered spaces contribute to your general well-being, lift your mood, and simply result in a space that you want to be in. A tidier space can also make for a more relaxed mind and help reduce the stress hormone, cortisol. An uncluttered space will also help you feel, and be, more productive as tasks are easier to complete when everything has a place.
Planning for smart storage spaces for your home, in every room. A storage bench at your front door or an ottoman with storage for your living room can provide not only a decorative element but extra storage as well.
A butler’s pantry is also a great strategy to keep kitchen countertops clutter-free, as it provides a spot for small appliances such as your toaster and coffee maker or espresso machine.
Certain material choices can also help achieve a minimalist esthetic (that is still warm and welcoming). We recommend choosing natural materials (such as wood and stone) with a less pronounced grain and pattern.
According to a study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress.
Not only are plants beneficial for reducing stress, plants also provide physical benefits that can further help to boost mood. Physical health and mood are intricately linked, and house plants will help to produce oxygen in your home and also remove toxins from the air. Studies by NASA have shown that certain houseplants can remove up to 87 percent of air toxins in only 24 hours!
Styling, growing, and propagating houseplants can also be a fun and inexpensive hobby. Even if you aren’t a green thumb, you can find guides online that will help you determine the best plants for various spaces in your home. Choose plants with dark, waxy leaves for low-light areas, and plants like succulents for spaces that are bright or get direct sunlight.
Houseplants are also a fun and inexpensive way to add a variety of textures and colors to your living spaces. Not only do plants themselves come in a huge variety of colors and textures, but plant stands, pots, baskets and plant hangers also come in a variety of style – from boho to chic.
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