Feeling sad? Maybe it's your home?
A lot has been written and researched over the years about the effect of architecture and design on our identity and psychology. A lot! I'm not going to write you an essay about the effects of good or bad design and how it makes you feel other than to say, it's still somewhat ignored by or unspoken of by people other than those in the industry. Many people still think of good architecture or interiors as frivolous, a short sighted view, considering how it can impact your mental and physical well being.
The fabulous Alain de Botton who wrote the Architecture of Happiness discovered an undeniable connection between location and happiness. He states that "happiness and misery are hugely determined by the quality of our environment; the kinds of walls, chairs, buildings and streets that surround us".
"As we walk into an ugly room we are left with a coldness, a sense of detachment, even a fleeting sadness; on the other hand an open, flowing, well lit space will instantly lift our mood and support whatever is most hopeful within us. Design offers us the opportunity to whither or flourish. We are all far more sensitive to architecture than is first apparent to us. The composition and decoration of a room can alter our entire mood".
I think these two images make my point perfectly. Emotionally how to each one of these dining rooms make you feel? More uplifted and happy or pretty depressed? I think the answer is obvious. So why do so many people not care about their environment when it can make such a difference to their life?
Some of you may think this is all about money and being able to afford to renovate but lets be honest furniture has never been so cheap or available, and a tin of paint will change your entire world. I think there are lots of reasons so I'm going to list just a couple of things you can do yourself to increase your happiness at home.
Easier said than done for some people, but lets be clear, your home is a reflection of how your head is.
If your home is full of unfiled paperwork, baskets of clothes, 6 months worth of read newspapers, kids toys, broken or unused furniture, 1000 novels you already read twice, every piece of electronic device you every owned, three sets of china when you're a single living on your own, then you need to de-clutter!
Start in one room, in one corner and get busy. The best way to keep some order is to create some systems for you and your family members. Where do you all put your bags when you come home? What can you do to keep them all in one place so nothing gets lost? Do you need a big basket to put all your newspapers in so it's easier to put them into the recycling? Would a console table by the front door with a mirror and lovely big key bowl stop you from constantly loosing your keys, phone and wallet?
Systems and less clutter will help clear your mind and give you back time. These are two things that will increase your happiness, I guarantee it.
TIP: Get a friend to be accountable to, de-cluttering can be emotionally difficult, friends are needed!
2. Make a list of small things you can do that will have big impact.
Sometimes renovating can be like exercise. If you don't see immediate improvement you can get disheartened. Just removing ugly features like vertical blinds and hideous chandelier can make a huge impact straight away. Make your list and start a budget of saving for the things that will make you happy. It's a happiness plan!
What pieces of furniture are broken and need to be replaced first. Are those lace curtains seriously keeping you in the 1970's? Put them on your list to replace!
I always recommend paint if nothing else. Don't be afraid of colour but do your research. Stick with colours that are soothing and easy on the eye and never more than one in a room. No violet feature walls with the black sofa please! (And yes, I've seen it!) Choose a colour that is appropriate to the style of furniture you own, but have fun with it.
TIP: Once you have your list, start researching and sourcing. Where can you get a plain white Venetian blind to replace the lace curtains in the kitchen to let in more light? What new outdoor furniture can I find on Gumtree that someone needs to move on? Use your imagination and buy the best you can afford.
3. Think about what do you want your life to look like?
This is the key. This is your life and your happiness. Stop being a passenger and start living in the front seat of your life! Start believing that you deserve a beautiful home that makes you feel good. It's time to recognise that your home and even your work space have an impact on how you and your family feel about yourselves. It's not frivolous. It's certainly not vain. It's learning to see what is going to help you live your best life.
Do you have a large family but are stuck with a 6 seat table? How are you going to have those wonderful Sunday lunches when you can't fit anyone in? Do you love sitting in the sun and reading the paper but have no balcony furniture? Do you have trouble sleeping but still have a bedroom with an old mattress, baskets of half clean clothes, walk in robe that is bulging with junk and clothes that you hate? Well, you know what to do to make this a life you want.
Learning to think about your space as a key to happiness may seem silly to many, but it's far from it.
Inspiring architecture and interior design are imperative to happiness and good mental well being. It's not about impressing your friends or what's in fashion. It doesn't need to cost lots of money or feature the best furniture, it just needs to serve your lifestyle and make you want to come home everyday, become your sanctuary from the outside world.
For those of you for whom this feels overwhelming or you just need help starting or de-cluttering, there is help! Don't be afraid to ask the sales people in your furniture store what goes with what. Pinterest is an absolute wealth of information on styles and ideas. You can cruise around on my boards here, there are over 10,000 pins! Or obviously you can contact me here with any questions!