6 reflective design tips for fostering wellness
Every decorative decision we make in our homes directly influences our mental health. Much like our food choices affect our physical bodies, the interior design elements within our built environments impact our emotional minds. Yet all too often in our western culture, we find ourselves placing more emphasis on how something looks than how it makes us feel, and then we wonder why we’re still anxious.
One remedy lies in mindful practices that turn off the autopilot and awaken each of us to become master curators of our personal spaces. It’s what my partners at Mont Surfaces and I call “Reflective Design,” in which decorative decisions aren’t based on fads or trends but rather a client’s most authentic self, resulting in a natural feeling of calm and centeredness. This is accomplished through intentional choices, lots of editing, and a deep commitment to who we really are on a soul level. Here are six principals for bringing this philosophy to your life:
1. Give prominence to earth materials
Humans have an innate desire to connect within the natural world. We may not know it consciously, but there’s a reason why we feel rejuvenated when we spend time outdoors. Besides the beautiful views and fresh air, there’s an electromagnetic energy that emanates from all things of the earth, stimulating our own life force within. As we spend more time in concrete cities, we become disconnected from this vital source, giving us good reason to need earth elements that revitalize us. By designing with natural stone, including quartz, which is widely documented to have healing properties, we’re providing ourselves the ability to renew every time we walk into our homes.
2. Integrate visual patterns from nature
What we know about visual systems found on earth, whether it’s the repeating contours of bark on trees, sediments in rocks, or seed formations within plants, is that they satisfy our human impulse to seek order out of chaos. Scientific research in the growing biophilic design movement has asserted that nature-based patterns within interior settings are helping to reduce anxiety in humans. In other words, visual references to nature, not just nature itself, are becoming healing tools. Surfaces like floors and counters as well as textiles like bedding and curtains are simple places where subtle earth patterns can be incorporated to feed our craving for calm.
3. Cultivate intimate environments
While many contemporary homes include vaulted ceilings and lofty architecture, they come with a hidden downside of pulling the energy up and away from the actual living space. The result is a feeling of emptiness and a lack of closeness, even when the whole family is in the room. If we want to overcome this subtle side effect, we have to consciously introduce elements that generate a feeling of intimacy. We start by creating comfortable nooks where the furniture is as cozy as the temperature of the room. Ambient table top lighting rather than bright overhead fixtures also plays an important role in creating warmth where people want it most.
Zen Sand Garden from susiefrazier.com
4. Introduce tactile elements
If everything in our living space is smooth to the touch, we stunt our ability to experience the sensory world around us. By integrating textured stone surfaces, live wood edges, and woven textiles, we activate our ability to feel something. Often times it’s through the physical body that we trigger the emotional heart, so these kinds of tactile design elements can also awaken us to the important relationships of our lives.
5. Only add décor if it holds meaning
While it’s true consumerism encourages the collection of knick knacks and tech gadgets, those items won’t necessarily help us create a stress-free home.If we want to nurture the spirit and take care of our emotional selves, we need to be careful of items that over stimulate our minds. Too many collectibles that create visual or environmental noise do more harm than good. Better to surround yourself with objects that inspire you deeply, hold a positive memory, or reflect an authentic part of your life.
6. Choose colors that feed the soul
Because the success of a wall color is based on the contextual elements of a room, it’s important to start with a centerpiece that you’re passionate about. Consider a significant piece of art or a stunning slab of granite. Then, look for a shade or tone that’s found within the piece. If the potential paint color elicits some kind of visceral response that stirs you, then you know it’s the right choice.