Design Your Emotional Wellness
Chances are you've been spending a lot more time at home lately. Whether you've been working from home, self-isolating, or coming home from a stressful workplace, you've probably become more aware of how your space works or more likely, doesn't work for you.
Full disclosure, this is not an image of my bathroom (sad face emoji inserted) and I'll bet it's not yours either. But the "feeling" you get when just looking at this image is what you want to achieve in your home. While the average person doesn't have a home that goes with this bathroom, you can absolutely have the "aaaaahhhhhhhh" emotion - trust me! Emotional well-being is more than just the new buzz word - it's a thing! If you've always struggled with mental health issues (raising my hand), you may already have strategies, tips and tricks for coping. For the newcomers to depression and anxiety - don't panic - I got you.
Amid the conditions and effects of the pandemic, more people than ever are struggling with mental health issues. Mine has been with me for many years so I'm coming to you from a place of knowing the struggle is real. Having a space of comfort and healing has become ever more important to our emotional well-being. Within the design community and product manufacturers, there continues to be a greater focus on wellness in design. Current trends in design have a much more holistic approach in creating supportive, human-centric environments. I know what you're thinking... that all sounds really expensive. What if I don't have a big budget. Having a generous budget is definitely a huge plus but not essential.
Function is first - a beautiful space that doesn't meet the needs of the user is a fail. While that bathtub with the spectacular view is to die for - if you're a shower girl and never take baths, it doesn't meet your needs. Not only are we spending more time at home, but we're also doing new things in that space. Our physical surroundings impact mood and behaviour - so what do you need from your space? Do you want to feel comforted, energized, relaxed, creative, productive?
So how do you make meaningful and impactful changes to your space? Well, besides calling me, which of course I want you to do, I can give you some tips to start you off. I will skip over the Marie Condo lesson - but clutter is bad for you and you should definitely "edit" and organize every room. Here are my top 3 tips to help with your wellness design and in this order...
1. Let there be light 💡
Light changes everything. If you change the type of bulbs you're using, it will dramatically change what your paint colour looks like. Any type of fluorescent (tube or CFL) is bad and you should run to the store immediately and invest in LEDs. This is worth the investment for a major impact visually and more importantly for your health. LED comes in warm white, cool white or natural white. Follow the link for a quick look at which one is best for you.
I could bore you with a whole lot of science on this or you can google the health impacts of fluorescent lighting. Besides, it's really unflattering and the fixtures are ugly. Most people also don't have enough lighting in their homes or enough natural light. Fun Fact: More natural light equals better physical and mental health. You can bring more natural light inside in many ways. One easy fix is possibly changing your window coverings. Ok, wait, that might not be so easy because I have a whole lesson on window coverings, but it's something to look at.
Lighting fixtures should be "layered" throughout your home. To keep it simple - you want ambient or general lighting (your ceiling lights), task lighting - things like under-mount lights in the kitchen, desk lamps, etc., and accent lighting - this is usually table lamps for a softer light in the evening or picture lights if you have fancy shmancy art collections that you want people to notice. Yes, you do need all three.
2. Paint Colour
Now that you have your lighting situation sorted out, it's time to pick colour. My #1 rule is forget about colour trends and go for what makes you feel good. We may love the new colours of the year but be careful. Benjamin Moores colour for 2020 is a soft pink - definitely not for everyone. Best to add that trendy colour in your accessories. Yes, there are colours that are said to be calming but that's very personal - if you don't like blues and greens it will just irritate you. So how do you get it right? Some Do's and Don'ts for you...
❎ never pick colour in the store (remember what I said about lighting)
❎ the fabulous colour in your girlfriend's house will not look the same in yours. As well as lighting, large surfaces like flooring will affect how it looks.
❎ don't skip the prep - it's a necessary pain in the butt
✅ narrow down your picks to your top three (the ones you love, love, love)
✅ go lighter - paint will be darker when on the wall
✅ always buy a sample pot and paint a large "swatch" (2 coats). You won't be sorry for following this step.
3. Natural Elements
No matter what your style, incorporating natural elements into a space has a calming effect. House plants are trending big time! It's actually called Biophilia - the innate human need to connect with nature or life forms. Another fun fact - Biophilic Design is becoming an important component of architecture and interior design in health care facilities and many corporate settings. The benefits include reduced stress, improved cognitive function, better productivity, enhanced mood, and creativity. All of these things lead to improved health and well-being.
I know some of you out there are plant killers but fear not, there are so many ways to bring nature in. Finishes like wood and stone are natural elements. Art depicting nature (no watering required), water features, the list goes on.
Do you need more than a couple of tips? You know where to reach me - I'll be at home, HA.
And of course, you can also send comments or questions for a little design "therapy".
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