Emotional wellbeing & interior design
Emotional wellbeing has never been more important or, for many of us, more difficult to sustain. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic changed almost everything about the way we lived in 2020. so, as a result, it’s unlikely that this “new normal” will resemble the “old normal” soon. Thanks to coronavirus, its associated lockdowns and self-isolation requirements, most of us are spending more time indoors than ever before. Therefore, it is vital that we see our home as our sanctuary – a retreat which provides safety, stimulus and shelter. We asked our Creative Director, London interior designer Cinzia Moretti, how you can apply this to your home and here is her expert advice:
Our home is one of the key influences on our mood, our motivation and our general wellbeing. So, make sure yours is warm, welcoming and conducive to health and happiness. One such example is this beautiful open-plan living space which we designed for a luxury family home
What exactly is emotional wellbeing?
The Mental Health Foundation defines emotional wellbeing as “a positive sense of wellbeing which enables an individual to be able to function in society and meet the demands of everyday life; people in good mental health have the ability the recover effectively from illness, change or misfortune”.
However, in the current climate, resilience is key in order to develop the effective coping skills we need to manage sustained external stress. So, our domestic environment has an important role to play in supporting this. But how can we adapt our homes, to help them to help us?
The natural world and the built environment
German-born physicist Albert Einstein declared: “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”. I find bringing well-recognised characteristics of the natural world into the built environment is a hugely effective way to improve both our physical and emotional wellbeing. In fact, it’s well known that our home can help (or harm) our daily routine. For instance, increasing the natural air flow can help to prevent sick building syndrome. More pertinently for our times, good ventilation reduces the risk of airborne virus transmission. In addition, increasing natural daylight not only cuts energy costs, but also stimulates scientifically-proven benefits, such as better sleep.
The boundless quest for balance: Life is all about finding the perfect harmony in your surroundings and this luxury bedroom we designed in High Street Kensington provides the perfect sanctuary
The benefits of biophilia
If we incorporate as many biophilic design principles as possible into our homes, this is a proven way to bolster our emotional wellbeing. In simple terms, biophilic design aims to incorporate nature in interiors, and increase our connectivity to the natural environment. In fact, natural materials, lighting, water features, plants and the right colour palette are just some key biophilic elements to experiment with. And it’s not just mental health, mood and happiness that biophilic design can improve. It can also enhance your physical health, for example, by helping to lower your blood pressure.
This West London project showcases a number of key biophilic design principles, including natural wood flooring, a mixture of plants and a gorgeous garden view designed to bring the outside in
Get creative with colour
Colour impacts virtually everything we think, feel and do. In fact, it can influence our moods, opinions and behaviour. So, it makes perfect sense to consider your interiors palette very carefully within any emotional wellbeing strategy. I think it’s important to understand that colour can be very personal and it holds various meanings for different people. For example, some could be soothed by pale neutrals, while others may enjoy soft pastels more. There’s also a strong case for introducing a selection of bold, bright accent shades, such as red, yellow or orange. Conversely, blue is considered to be safe, reassuring, comforting and familiar. Black and grey have, of course, proved very popular for interiors in recent years. But it might be worthwhile experimenting with less sombre, calming and/or more uplifting shades until these troubled times improve.
Colour can have an instant and enduring effect on our mood and motivation. In this kitchen, we worked closely with the homeowner to discover the meanings of different colours for them. As a result, we introduced a bright, uplifting pop of yellow to make them feel happy and energised
The right light
Lighting is another essential element in the pursuit of emotional wellbeing. As mentioned, natural light is absolutely invaluable. But it does need to be supplemented and complemented, especially during the long, dark British winter. So, this is why the right lighting system could be paramount to a luxury home project. After all, this will help to create a vibrant, sustainable and restorative environment. In fact, clever design has long been used to set the mood for a luxury space. So, couple this with different lighting conditions as this will help to elicit differing psychological responses.
The biological effect
Lighting can create more than just visual effects. It also has a biological effect that can improve or disrupt our sleep, cognition and overall wellbeing. So, try to create an interior that combines natural light, ventilation, view quality and the appropriate artificial mood and task lighting. If you can group these aspects together, this will help to minimise any unnecessary disruption to your circadian rhythms. As a result, this will have a corresponding positive effect on your mood, energy and outlook.
In this open-plan kitchen, we added extensive roof glazing to create this stunning, light-filled space
The positivity of plants
I’ve always felt that a happy life is all about balance. In fact, from the food we eat to our work and personal lives, we’re constantly searching for that perfect ratio. And, when we spend less time outdoors, our mood tends to suffer. So, inviting the outside in, in as many ways possible, is one way to redress this imbalance. I find introducing more plants to a home is a fast and easy way to enhance our emotional wellbeing. However, this goes beyond mere aesthetics. In fact, plants improve actual air quality by reducing carbon dioxide, dust and mould. Studies have shown that plants can also improve concentration levels and productivity, which is a bonus if you are still working from home. In addition, they can help to reduce stress levels and boost your mood.
Never underestimate the power plants can have on your emotional wellbeing. In fact, if you introduce more greenery to your home, this has a proven positive impact on both physical and emotional wellbeing
So, be adventurous with your greenery and mix and match potted plants, hanging plants and, if your space and budget allows, why not consider a living wall? I would also never underestimate the uplifting effect of a beautiful bouquet. Fresh blooms can be balm for the soul, so make sure you treat yourself occasionally. Where emotional wellbeing is concerned, I find the smallest gestures can sometimes have the biggest impact.