Wellness with all its facets, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, is a main topic of concern. With the world’s environmental disasters, economic crises, diseases and wars and our own everyday struggles and stresses, a focus on wellness can help us all to thrive in our fast-paced, digital lives.
Though we may have little or no control over most of the stressors that affect our lives, there are plenty of other elements within our reach that can help to reverse the damage, soothe our minds, and enhance our overall health, including creating a wellness-focused home.
For Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, the home is psychologically far more important than simply being a refuge. Instead, it is a reflection of our lives, our identities, and our connections to our inner stories and states of mind. Moreover, according to environmental psychology, home reshuffling and planning can improve our moods. Studies have showed that the way our homes feel, look, and function can have a huge impact on how we think, feel, and behave.
Healthy spaces that align with interior design fundamentals take into account personal blueprints plus daily activities, and following nature’s grid can lead to happy inhabitants with fulfilled relations, successful lives, and good health. Homes designed using a wellness-focused approach feel more peaceful, personal, lively, warm, safe, and authentic, helping to restore our energy, rejuvenate our senses, and enhance our creativity.
As a result, it is vital to make home-design choices and use styling strategies with wellness in mind. There are many ways to implement wellness design in your home, with the best way to finding out what works for you being to experiment.
INSPIRED BY NATURE: Our spiritual yearning for nature is ever-growing, so what could be better than to use our own homes’ physical space to fulfill this essential need and connect us back to nature?
Named after the Greek words bios, meaning life, and philos, meaning love, biophilic design is about integrating natural elements into our living spaces to boost our mental health and wellbeing. Today, we are seeing numerous variations and applications of biophilic design that are all about connecting our built spaces to nature and bringing the outdoors in. This has been shown to enhance creativity, stimulate happiness, and promote our overall health as it resembles the healing and rejuvenating energy of nature.
Some simple ideas include adding plants or flowers to your home, or using natural materials like wood, stones, marble, linen, bamboo or wool in your décor. You could also install a window seat or balcony that would allow you to enjoy views of nature. It’s not just about being a plant parent or growing your own balcony garden, though gardening is also an act of love that brings happiness, and plants purify the air.
Similarly, you can bring nature indoors by choosing a colour palette of greens, blues, yellows, or earth tones, as well as employing textures, faux plants, landscape paintings or wallpaper, beach or jungle-inspired art pieces, and rounded furniture to mimic the organic flow of nature. Using ecofriendly paints can also avoid harsh chemicals, and they are a sustainable option that can do wonders for your body and mind.
INSPIRED BY YOU: Even though achieving wellbeing through design is all about mirroring and matching us to nature, what makes an individual happy is always a personal story.
So, stamp your identity and personal style onto your space, blend it with your distinctive authenticity, and conclude with your special wants from your surroundings. From space planning and layout to aesthetics, our choices should add personality to an interior, reflect our individuality, and help with our daily functions, instead of just being copied from a polished design on Instagram, or, even worse, disregarding our own personality and purpose.
In any design decision, aim to start by thinking about what makes you unique. What are the things that make you feel most comfortable and at home? Notice how you feel not what you think you should feel. When was the last time you felt content? What was the setting? Identify what makes you happy and translate it visually in your home through design decisions that are the building blocks of wellness in your environment.
Once you know what your character is all about, it will be easier to find pieces and colours that reflect it. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Play around with different styles and combinations until you find something that feels like you. By personalising your space, you will be able to create a haven that is truly unique to you and one that induces inner peace, stimulates satisfaction, and inspires growth.
Decorate and style with intention and customise your home on your own terms to create something unique for you. Handicrafts, artworks, family pictures, and travel souvenirs can all improve your emotional connection with where you live.
COLOUR AND LIGHTING: Colour is a powerful factor that affects our mood and influences how we feel in a space, while hues, shades, and tints evoke emotion.
So, choose colour schemes for your home that match function and mood. Blue enhances calmness and creativity, while yellow uplifts mood and energises, for example. Green is a soothing and balancing choice, while purple is the colour of spirituality and brings peaceful and tranquil emotions.
Lighting is another make-or-break element in any space, as it can highlight architectural details or features, create the illusion of space, and define zones, as well as shifting a room’s energy levels and helping to regulate the sleep and wakefulness cycle.
Try to maximise natural light as much as possible by using large windows or simply mimic circadian rhythms with flexible artificial lighting solutions. Harsh light can disturb, whereas low-intensity lighting can make you feel tired. Dim lighting can enhance relaxation and intimacy, while bright lighting enhances focus and alertness.
DECLUTTERING: Too much clutter can overstimulate your brain, making it work harder and draining you of your energy and wasting your resources. It is vital that your home brings you joy and is clutter-free and comfortable with everything in its place.
Seeing piles of stuff around the house is a visual reminder and nagging cue of all the things you may have to do. It activates the stress-response system and adds stress to your life. So, try to deal with items quickly in the moment – as clutter can simply represent postponed decisions and ones that have been left to accumulate. Create an organisation system, storage strategies, and sustainable solutions to curb clutter. Sort everything out, use drawers, closed and lidded boxes, baskets, furniture with cabinet doors, and other solutions to declutter your life.
SPEAK TO YOUR SENSES: Aromatherapy is proof that essential oils can boost immunity and reduce anxiety, so choose your own happy scent for your home, whether you choose an oil diffuser, scented candles, or simply spray with your favorite odour.
Focus more on the collective energy of the space and allow your senses to drive the design flow. What are they drawn to? What drives them? What irritates them? What is the purpose of the space? Does the setting enhance or stress the room’s main function? How are the furniture, art pieces, lighting and colour communicating? What needs to be replaced, upcycled, or renovated?
No matter which idea or technique you choose in transforming your home for wellness, it is worth remembering that a well home is basically one that eases the functions in its rooms, reflects the people who live in them, and inspires them to be better and healthier. Equally it should provide safety, security, physical and psychological comfort, and allow you to rest and host your friends and family.
Wellness styling tips
Try some of these home-styling tips to add a wellness focus to your home:
- Shuffle the furniture, décor, and lighting choices and arrangements to induce visual flow. This does not mean matching the same items; just aim for an equal balance, interest, and proportion.
-Place the elements in your space according to the main purpose of the room to facilitate the flow of activity taking place in it.
- Surround yourself with things you love and that inspire you or put your passions on display on a feature wall that visualises your story.
- Centre everything around a focal point that is inspiring, aesthetically pleasing, and clutter free.
- Size up your surroundings, fix what is broken, assess what you like and dislike about your space, and make specific actionable plans to change problem areas.
- Choose multifunctional comfortable furniture that is easy to clean and adapt. Select textiles that are soft, smooth, and comfortable bedding choices. Think about using greenery, rugs, and art pieces to transform your space.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 29 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.