In aid of it being mental health awareness week – a week which aims to raise the awareness of mental health and wellbeing. It is the perfect time to focus on yourself, check in on loved ones and practice self-love through your interiors.
This year’s theme is’ Kindness’. Kindness is something we can all practice more of, whether that be to ourselves or others and it can really go a long way.
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We are becoming more and more aware of the role of our surroundings, the built environment in which we live, learn and work in. The links between the built environment, health and wellbeing are nothing new, but applying it to our home environment is beginning to become a popular trend. Wellness focused interior design is an on growing design ethos; it recognises that residential and commercial spaces can greatly impact both our physical psychological wellbeing.
Did you know that on average, we spend around 90% of our time indoors? Which is shocking! This really shows the importance of the built environment. Research shows the link between our health and wellbeing and factors such as views of nature and daylight shining through a window, using colours that promote mental well-being, indoor air quality, acoustics, scents and furnishings.
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What is Wellness?
Wellness is the active process of becoming aware of and making choices towards a healthy and fulfilling life. This can be interpreted in various different ways – from fitness, nutrition to living in balance, relaxation, mindfulness and slow living. It’s also about creating a living space that nourishes our body and mind.
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Embarking on a wellness journey is a process of searching for the right tools to make you healthier and happier human being, plus discovering what works for you as an individual in order to grow and develop.
We are going to focus on the built environment and how you can incorporate health and wellness into your interior.
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Biophilic Design – Connection with Nature
Biophilia is the idea that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. It’s all to do with our intrinsic human connection to the natural world. Biophilic design is an innovative way to harness this attraction in order to create natural environments for us to live, work and learn in. Biophilic design connects us to nature and it has been shown to boost our productivity, inspire us and contribute to a stronger sense of wellbeing.
It’s essential to bring the outdoors in and create indoor environments that helps us to connect with the outside world.
When implementing biophilic design methods, it’s more than just adding a pot plant around the house. Biophilia is made up of various factors such as - natural light, good air quality, natural textures, vegetation, living walls, natural materials and nature views which will all provide a positive impact on our lives. All of these factors help to improve our mood, be more productive and helps us recharge.
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Colour can really have a big impact on the mood of a room and how it makes you feel, it is a very personal thing.
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BY NORM ARCHITECTS
The different colours that are used in interior design can really affect the environment you are living in and can either overstimulate or under stimulate your space. Consider using light, airy, neutral colours which can help make a room feel larger and brighter. Whereas, darker colours can be considered to be more refined and make rooms feel more intimate and warmer.
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There are some colour groups that will help make it easier when deciding what tones to use to decorate with. Neutrals – are grey, black, white and brown. These colours can establish a balance when using passive and active colours. Active colours- yellow and pink are bright and can excite the mind along with boosting creativity (these would be great colours to use in a child’s playroom). Passive colours – blue and green are cool and can help to calm the mind and help with mental focus.
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Although various colours can provoke different emotional responses in all of us, so it’s always important to factor in personal preferences when choosing your colours as this is going to be somewhere, you’re going to spend most of your time.
Credit - The trend colours, graphically arranged by Architect Daria Zinovatnaya
Lighting is becoming one of the most important elements in home design; spaces are being designed around natural light sources or smart lighting systems are being installed to better match our natural rhythm.
Natural light is a key factor to be considered when designing, as it can provide an incredible health and wellness boost. Research has shown that it can improve productivity, alertness and mood as well as having an impact on our physiological and psychological state.
Credit - Natural light is able to flood inside thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Courtesy of Ed Sozinho and Charlie Schuck
Think about how you feel in a room full of daylight compared to a room with just a little window of light?
Natural light not only affects our day and night rhythm, but also our vitamin D balance. It is crucial because it helps us to absorb calcium from food. We also need calcium for bone formation and stability. Furthermore, daylight inhabits our production of melatonin, which ensures that we get tired when it gets dark. Cortisol does the opposite and makes us alert and focused.
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Comfort is Key
It goes without saying that comfort is key when it comes to wellness focused interior design. Ergonomic design simply helps to make the design more user friendly. As a result, the interior space will become more useful. Therefore, when designing it must be comfortable for the user in terms of physiology, psychology and anatomy. This ideal interior should be comfortable, efficient and aesthetically pleasing at the same time. It cannot value one of these elements more than the other, if not, the space would be ergonomically incomplete.
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The biggest impact is in fact the little things. Clutter – wardrobes stuffed with clothes we haven’t worn for years, shoes dumped around the house or the dining table without much space to even have a meal. We can’t emphasise enough how much these things have an impact on our mood, relationships or even our sleep. Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to focus when the room you are working in or your home is surrounded by clutter? Having a messy environment won’t help you in anyway. You’ll be surprised how much it plays on your mind without realising it.
Although, many people find it extremely difficult to keep their homes clutter free, that’s because living without lots of extra things takes practice. When tidying your home, you should try and follow the ethos ‘only keep items in your home that sparks joy, discard the items that don’t, and organise everything in a way that makes items easy to find.
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Design your home to reflect the type of life you want to reflect. For example, if you enjoy reading, then have books close to hand or create a little reading nook. If you want to meditate every morning, then consider creating a mindful corner. It’s all about adapting your home to reflect the type of life you want to live.
Therefore, the things that transform a space into a home are the personal touches which makes it so unique. That’s true for improving wellness. Find what small things make you happy and calm when you look at them and then fill your home with them. This may be candles, personal photographs, art or furniture.
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Consequently, interior design doesn’t just have to be down to aesthetics and functionality. It’s also about wellness and creating an environment that improves your wellbeing and creating a sanctuary of calmness from our hectic daily lives.