Did you know that the style of your interiors could be affecting your mood? Beyond just the functionality, the visual aesthetic of your interior could also be causing unnecessary stress and aggravation. Decluttering your space can leave you with a sense of peace and cleanliness in your home and in your office.
In his 2013 book Drunk Tank Pink, Adam Alter explores how color can have a real impact on our emotional condition. For example, Alter notes that in a study, subjects reported being more intimidated by tests with red covers than green ones. He also cites a famous study done in Canada in the 80’s, wherein putting aggressive prisoners into cells painted pink helped them to calm down quicker than the inmates put into normal cells. He draws the conclusion that soft, light shades of certain colors help us to feel calmer than their harsh counterparts. He advises that living spaces should be painted with these principles in mind, which means avoiding harsh colors like bright reds or oranges and instead opting for softer pastel shades of blue, pink or green.
Your choice of lighting can also be a huge factor in your mood. Research by the University of Toronto suggests that bright light can intensify – emotions and suggests that turning down the intensity of the light can have a calming effect. . Blue light makes us more alert, which works in an office environment, but should be avoided in bedrooms where it can suppress melatonin production and stop us from drifting off to sleep. Natural light should also be incorporated into the home and workspace, as it helps our circadian rhythms to regulate and reduce stress and depression.
Minimalist interiors were in-vogue before Marie Kondo blew up on Netflix, but mostly to celebrities who could remodel their homes at will. Marie Kondo made minimalism accessible to the masses, and created the ‘KonMari lifestyle,’ which means choosing to keep only the possessions that spark joy in your life. She teaches her clients to imagine their ideal lifestyle, whether that means surrounding themselves with only the essentials, or surrounding themselves with cherished possessions that bring cheer and comfort. She empowers people to ‘let go with gratitude,’ which means discarding items that have served their purpose and are no longer necessary to support their vision of an ideal lifestyle.
British architect John Pawson, has been following a minimalist philosophy for decades, but perceives it as a return to tradition rather than anything radical. ‘It’s something that’s been around forever,’ he told The Guardian. ‘People have always been going further and further into the desert to get away.’ His interiors are about as minimal as it gets, employing clean lines and muted colors. The intricacy is in his use of complex textures like exposed brick and woven rugs, as seen here in his personal farm home.
A Princeton University Study, Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex, found that, “Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually suppressing their evoked activity throughout visual cortex, providing a neural correlate for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.” In English, this means that when your brain takes in a cluttered environment, it thinks it has to multitask and actually works harder to sort out your surroundings, leaving you distracted and mentally exhausted. The study concluded that subjects who purged unnecessary items both in their homes and workspaces were less irritable and distracted, and more productive overall than those who did not.
But minimalism is not only an interior design concept, it’s a holistic one as well. Living in our modern society possessed by consumerism and instant gratification, it can be difficult to limit not only material possessions, but excess information as well. Limiting unnecessary purchases, downsizing your wardrobe, following only the social media accounts that provide you value can be concepts of minimalism that help to create balance in our lives. According to Leo Babauta, author of the blog Zen habits, “minimalism isn’t just about living with little; it is about discovering what’s important.”