You’ve probably noticed that when you walk into certain rooms, it can make you instantly happy. Perhaps the room is bright and cheery, or it’s filled with decor that brings back cherished memories. Just like surrounding yourself with positive people can help keep you in a good mood, your surroundings make a difference too. The way a room is decorated really can have an impact on our mood – whether it’s to lift it or to make us feel drained and even burned out. If your first thought is that you can’t afford to redecorate, you’ll be happy to learn that even small, inexpensive changes can have a big impact on the way you feel in a room. And, that’s based on science.
In fact, scientists have been conducting a significant amount of research on this very topic and have found that interior design elements have the ability to evoke positive or negative emotional responses in people. In one survey, published in A Journal of the Association for Psychological Science, the results revealed that certain rooms can produce very tangible emotions. Participants were given a list of hypothetical rooms, typical for an average home, and were then asked to choose two ambiance description of each of them. The results matched the conventional wisdom of interior design, such as a master bedroom being equated with romance, and an entryway meant to be inviting. From color and lighting to space, natural elements, textures, and shapes, everything can produce certain emotional responses, some may cause us to feel gloomy or anxious while others boost creativity or inspire relaxation and calm.
Here’s how you can take advantage of this information to make changes to your home that will help make it more of a mood lifter than a mood downer.
1. Bring In The Greenery
Numerous studies have shown that having more plants in the home can improve one’s mood, concentration, and even memory retention, as just the sight of them, and the presence of natural elements is known to lower stress. One of the reasons behind that is that they do the opposite of what we do when we breathe, release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, which freshens the air and eliminates harmful toxins. A study conducted by NASA in association with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA), “Foliage Plants for Removing Indoor Air Pollutants from Energy-efficient Homes,” found that plants can remove up to 87 of toxins in the air every 24 hours, including formaldehyde, which is present in vinyl, cigarette smoke and grocery bags, as well as benzene and trichloroethylene, both found in solvents and paints as well as inks and man-made fibers.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like these, if allowed to remain, can stick around for years, gradually wearing away at occupants’ immune systems with their toxicity. But adding plants can decrease fatigue, headaches, colds, coughs, sore throats and flu-like symptoms. Research from the Agricultural University of Norway showed that illness rates dropped by more than 60 percent in offices that had plants.
We know that spending time in nature is good for the soul, and good for health, so it makes sense to bring nature indoors to improve well-being too. It’s well-known to offer stress relief, but it also allows one to connect with mind, body, and soul, which in turn can encourage healing from all sorts of chronic illness and disease, including conditions like anxiety, depression, insomnia, chronic pain, hypertension and digestive disorders.
If you live in an urban setting, you might place plants on a windowsill or balcony, though even in a fairly small space, you can grow plants indoors by getting creative. Use plant stands, vertical gardens, bar carts and the like – you’ll be beautifying your home and lifting the mood of anyone who steps inside.
The easiest way to change up your home is to change paint colors. Warm colors are known to evoke feelings of optimism or happiness. The color of a room can have a dramatic impact on mood – in fact, colors enhancing certain emotions is something so deeply rooted that it’s become a part of our vocabulary. For example, we may be “green with envy” or “feeling blue.” Certain colors, or combinations of colors, tend to get a similar reaction from most people, with variations generally coming from the shades or tones used, which is why it’s important to choose colors wisely when decorating one’s home.
Orange is refreshing, positive and stimulating, encouraging creativity, making it ideal to use in a space meant for entertainment. Yellow is often associated with sunshine, joy, and happiness. It’s a great choice for a kitchen, dining room, hall or entryway, but it’s not the best choice for the main color scheme as research has found people are more likely to lose their temper in yellow painted rooms – babies cry more when their nursery is painted yellow, because in larger amounts it tends to create frustration.
Green is calming and is considered a good choice for the main color scheme as it combines the cheerfulness of yellow with the refreshing quality of green. It’s known to relieve stress by helping one to relax. In a kitchen, it’s cooling, and used in a living room or family room it also encourages relaxation while bringing the warmth that promotes comfort. Blue is said to reduce blood pressure as well as slow respiration and heart rate, which is why it’s considered calming, and serene, and often recommended for bedrooms.
Do keep in mind that color preference is deeply personal, as our like or dislike of a certain shade is based on our own unique experiences, so it’s important to think about how a particular color makes you feel, and then choose what you really love.
3. Add Color Without Paint
If painting isn’t an option, or you don’t want to deal with the expense, there are other ways to add splashes of color and change the mood of a room.
- Add large pieces of colorful art to instantly brighten a room
- Add colorful pillows, throws, and rugs
- Add vibrant colored furnishings, especially large pieces like a couch or loveseat
- Use removable wallpaper so you can change up the colors whenever the urge hits
- Add temporary pops of color with flowers
- Add colorful blinds, shades and/or curtains
- Add colored shelves
4. Change Up Your Lighting
Lighting can add warmth, color, and personality to any living space, and it’s a relative bargain compared to many other home improvements. Light is a well-known mood modulator – lots of sunshine, using candles, etc. can all improve the mood of a room. A well-lit room can make you feel happier, while cool, white-toned light brings a sense of calm. Use light to define areas like seating groups, and leave darker spaces in between. You can also control a room’s mood with dimmers, using switches and lamps to set the ambiance. As bright light can increase alertness and even give you more energy, it’s best to dim the lights to wind down in the evening. On the opposite end of the spectrum, letting sunshine flood into your bedroom in the morning will help your body stop creating sleep-inducing melatonin so that you’ll wake up feeling more alert. That’s makes it a good idea to move your bed so that it’s near a window with the curtains open enough so that you can enjoy natural light when it’s time to rise.
Lighting in layers is a good idea, providing rooms with a mix of accent, task and ambient light at different levels, rather than having one large glaring light at the center of the ceiling. Think variety, with different sized table lamps on mantels, shelves and other places. The kitchen is ideal for lighting in layers. You might use recessed lights in front of upper cabinets, lighting under cabinets to fill shadows and a pendant light over an island, for example. You might also want to switch your light bulbs out to the full spectrum type as they mimic natural light.
5. Add Personal Elements
Personal touches are incredibly important when it comes to the impact a room will have on your mood. Include items that bring positive sensory experiences and memories. Bring in items that make you happy, like a photo of your family or pet in a nice, colorful frame, an especially soft, cozy blanket, or something you got during your travels that means a lot to you. Think about texture too, for example, the rich texture of a shaggy rug is said to enhance the sense of happiness and comfort while wooden elements have been associated with personal growth and health.
The bottom line is that it’s important to choose the color and decor designs that you like the most, so that no matter which way you look, you’ll be reminded of the things that make you the happiest.
6. Eliminate Clutter
If your home is filled with clutter, all of those things are probably taking the joy out of your life, even if you aren’t aware of it. One of the most important things you can do to your home to change your mood to a more positive one is to reduce the clutter inside. Research from Princeton showed that clutter lessens your ability to focus as well as your ability to process information. Another study by UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families, found a link between a high level of cortisol, a stress hormone, and those who own a lot of household objects. That added stress can make you feel drained and fatigued more often, and even make you eat more, as cortisol triggers the appetite.
When your home looks nice, clean and organized, you’ll naturally feel calmer, but when it looks crowded with clutter, the stress of unfinished things that need to be done sneaks into your subconscious mind and can cause added stress. The neater and organize your view is, the more calm and happy you will become. While getting rid of clutter can be time-consuming, it will bring big rewards in the long run. Take a half-day, a full day or more, depending on how much clutter you have and go through your belongings. Sort the items you don’t use into a donate or discard pile. Create a special place for everything that is actually useful and you want to keep so that future cleaning will be easier and less stressful too. Having clutter around you can make you irritable as it’s like visual noise. When you declutter, you’ll not only boost your self-confidence, but your general mood, and you’ll sleep better too. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine conducted a study that found those who go to bed in cluttered rooms are at a high risk for developing hoarding issues and more likely to have sleep disturbances like falling asleep and staying asleep.