Scientists have long known that visual cues in the environment can affect mood and alertness. In October 2005, the journal Building and Environment published a study entitled “Visual Effects of Interior Design in Actual-Size Living Rooms on Physiological Responses.” This article outlined the physiological effects of two different room designs on test subjects, noting a heightened response and higher cognitive awareness in persons who spent time in a room with exposed beams and wooden posts. The other room, decorated in a more traditional way, produced a relaxed and calm state in the test subjects.
“Effects of Indoor Color on Mood and Cognitive Performance,” published in 2006 in the same journal, outlined the effects of colors on emotional response and perception. The article concluded that the choice of interior color can also have a significant impact physiologically. Interior design specialists put this scientific data to work in choosing materials and colors; you can do the same in your own home.
Generally, it’s a good idea to use warm, natural colors in your living room and kitchen. Natural tones and materials offer a timeless look for your kitchen, and studies show they can enhance alertness and stimulate creative thought as well. Consider the use of exposed natural beams and posts; by providing focal points for the eyes, they can promote wakefulness and cognitive thought. Warm tones like gold, crimson, and brown mimic the tones of firelight, and promote coming together as a family in these communal living and dining areas. Gold and yellow shades have the additional effect of speeding up the metabolism, a definite bonus in the dining room and kitchen.
Soothing shades of blue and green are more suited to bedrooms and bathrooms. These cool-toned colors have been shown to produce a state of calm and relaxation, conducive to rest and sleep. Ironically, the color blue is also conducive to concentration, helping employees turn out more work in the same amount of time; this has led to its use in many office environments. Most experts recommend that bedrooms be decorated very sparsely to avoid distracting visual cues that can delay or prevent sleep in susceptible individuals.
For young children, bright primary colors help to stimulate their growing brains and provide vivid sensory data to help them learn more easily. Children are drawn to these bright colors, and for good reason; sharp contrasts help young minds learn to categorize and differentiate between various visual stimuli. These early lessons in identifying colors set the pattern for a lifetime of learning.
Neutral shades, such as white, eggshell, and cream, are often used; these provide a useful alternative to warm or cool shades. These lighter shades give the illusion of spaciousness as well. Perhaps the most often overlooked psychological aspect of interior design is the human need for space. Even in smaller homes, the illusion of space can have positive psychological and physical effects.
The negative physical effects of crowded spaces has been documented in numerous studies. “Social Density, Interpersonal Relationships, and Residential Crowding Stress” was first published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology in 1983, and outlined an array of physical responses to overcrowded spaces, including elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, and aversive social panic. Similar effects can result from living in a home that is overly crowded with furniture. Increasing the amount of open space in your home and reducing clutter does more than aid in organization; it can also relieve stress and even lower your blood pressure.
The proper use of color, natural materials, and open spaces can not only make your living space more beautiful; it can benefit your emotional and physical health as well. Using the same scientific principles that interior design experts use, you can transform your home into a warm, tranquil environment that brings out the best in you and your family.
Author: Joe Cline, Date: Oct 9, 2009
Interior Design Tips for a Healthier You