Designs to enhance the spirit

Interiors

Designs to enhance the spirit


You can from now on step into your home with a smile, all thanks to a new field of design called neuro architecture. Emerging research on how factors like light, space and room layout affect physical and psychological well-being, are driving neuro architecture.

“The premise is to consider how each feature of the architectural environment influences certain brain processes such as those involved in stress, emotion and memory,” says Eve Edelstein, PhD, adjunct professor at the New school of Architecture and Design in San Diego and a research consultant for architecture at the Academy of Neuroscience.

Mood modulator

For example, light is already a well-known mood modulator. Candles, artificial sources of light controlled with dimmers, and lots of natural sunshine all help. A good home décor improvement not only changes the look of your house but also uplifts your mood. We all have natural reactions to colour - a clear blue sky can make you feel more peaceful, a bunch of daffodils - more optimistic. So it’s no surprise that the colours in your home can have an impact on your mood too. How pure and bright a shade is can come into play too as well as personal associations with the colour. You can tap into the power of colour to feel happier, calmer or more inspired.

Impact of colours

Colours can make you happy, calm or full of energy.

Happy colours: If you want to feel more upbeat and happy, bring in the colours of sunshine and spring fields-green and yellow. In the study from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, adults reported feeling happier around these two colours. Soft or pale yellows are ideal for playrooms and children’s rooms. Green is a good pick to brighten your room with mostly neutral tones. Toss two celadon-coloured throw pillows on a sofa or display your favourite black and white photos in a large bright olive-green picture frame.

For energy: Red and violet are two stimulating colours that boost your energy levels because they ensure that your body pumps out more adrenaline, says Leslie Harrington, a founder of LH colour, a colour-consulting and research firm in old Greenwich. One British study found that when evenly matched Olympic athletes competed, those wearing red won significantly more than their blue-wearing opponents.

These high-energy colours are especially good for home offices, entryways, small sitting rooms or staircases. (Avoid them in the bedroom and bathroom, where you want to relax. You may want to skip these colours in the kitchen, because energising hues can boost your appetite). If you want to feel inspired and not wired, add just a touch here and there, a big bunch of fresh red or purple flowers.

For calm: It’s no wonder that most of us choose blue as a soothing hue. It’s the colour of the sky and the sea, and we can all use soothing touches of it in our hectic lives. Studies have shown that people who were faced with difficult tasks felt less anxious after they saw something blue. Because the colour is relaxing, you can feel free to use it more liberally than happy or energising colours. It will work well in any room where you long to feel less stressed. Be sure to stick with soft, muted blues, though, the brighter, stronger shades, such as French blue, can actually have a stimulating effect. Try adding a touch of this serene shade where you need it most: near your bill-paying station, perhaps.

Throw in some flowers

Nothing uplifts a room or your spirits like a bouquet of fresh flowers. When you’re working with beautiful blooms, there is no such thing as bad design. The more you spend around artful arrangements, the more your health will benefit. A Rutgers University study linked flowers with happy emotions and increased intimacy with family and friends, and other research has found that flowers in the workplace heighten creativity and problem-solving skills. Many flowers have pleasing scents, shapes and colours which may contribute to our positive reaction to them. Keep arrangements simple, and follow a few basic rules of colour and form.

Choose the blooms that echo the look and feel of your surroundings, says Dorothy Mc Daniel, a floral designer. Sunflowers, gerbera and daisies have an earthy, rustic quality, while roses, calla lilies and orchids lend themselves to a more formal setting. You can also play up the season or match the mood or gathering. For a romantic dinner, consider a classic arrangement of red roses in a shiny black vase. For an autumn brunch, display a bunch of yellow and orange flowers in a mason jar or can.

Neuro architecture in kitchens

Similarly, neuro architecture can be applied in the kitchen area too. After a busy day, if your kitchen design makes you face away from family and company, wondering what the noises and bustle going on behind you are, your brain is more likely to continue to produce adrenaline, and cortical, the hormones associated with anxiety, fear and stress.

But when you face into the room, and can see what is going on, you feel safer and more in control. Then oxytocin, the bonding hormone and serotonin, associated with relaxation and enjoyment, have a greater chance of being released.

Better yet is to have a view of the door that people use to enter into the kitchen area, with a window that looks out into a landscape. Soft geometry is also a part of neuro architecture. Use of soft curves instead of hard edges on counters, furniture and cabinets help nurture contentment and well being. Lack of privacy is stressful. Even if you can’t have your own room, it’s important to find ways to guarantee yourself solitude.

One of the keys to a home that elicits a lot of happiness and positive emotion is the changes made by rearranging the décor. Even an environment that makes our spirits soar tends to grow stale over time. Lifting your interiors a bit here and there, will lead you towards a sunnier and brighter environment.

(The author is an interior designer, Modccon Interiors)   

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