Can a building and what is contained in it have the power to transform your mood, your health? I certainly think so! Here’s a small example of what I mean: Although I have been to the National Gallery of Art many times when I was there a few months ago with friends, the person that went in that building was not the one that came out.
I was rather heavyhearted that day over saying goodbye to someone I cherish (my daughter off to college), but after spending the morning in that beautiful space with such inspiring architecture and light, surrounded by such talent, I came out with my spirit boosted. Although nothing can compare to time with my family, the superstructure of the building and the works of art and all the emotion they conveyed elevated me enough to start shaking my case of the blues.
THE EFFECT OF ART AND DESIGN ON OUR MOOD
I am certainly not alone in realizing the strength that art and design can have on our psyche. Check this out:
- Whether its a landscape, portrait or still life, this study shows when we view art, there is increased brain activity related to pleasure. We can all use more of that!
- The famous biologist and doctor, Jonas Salk, left his dark basement lab for a beautiful monastery in Italy and basically changed the world! It was there he found inspiration that led to the cure for Polio. He was so convinced the change in environment helped him, he later went on to build the Salk Institute in California as a facility to encourage creativity and scientific discovery.
- This study shows that art can elevate moods and improve stress levels for patients in the hospital setting. This I have seen first hand as my daughters and I created a small gallery at a local hospital for long-term patients there using children’s art.
- Some architecture schools are now offering classes in introductory neuroscience because of the connection between design and the effects on our brain, our moods, etc.
I am sure you have felt the effects of art and design on you as well: a favorite cozy nook in your home that always seems to generate great conversations, a painting you and your spouse bought on your honeymoon together, a studio flooded with natural light, a study filled with favorite books and family portraits.
It’s true that the places we inhabit and what is in them can affect our thoughts, our productivity, our moods which affects our outlook, our stress levels and, therefore, our health. I have written about the connections between design and health a bit before over here on how to create a restful bedroom to help induce good sleep. Our physical environment is powerful stuff!
HOW TO ORGANIZE YOURSELF TO DEVELOP YOUR PERSONAL TASTE AND SPACE
We absorb “what a beautiful space is” through many influences:
- where we grew up
- books and decor magazines
- famous designers
- TV and movies
They all have been whispering to you what beauty is, but really that is for you to decide all by yourself!
Before you can create that space that is all yours and one that reflects more accurately what you want it to, back up a bit and do a little assessment:
1. Take a walk.
Go room by room and look around your place and ask yourself how it makes you feel. Does it inspire you, bring warmth, create peace, energize you? Or, could it deflate you and make you want to walk right back out? Or, maybe somewhere in the middle? Also, see what works and what does not. How comfortable is that chair, those cushions? Is there an area where there is good light to work?
2. List it.
Make a list of what you find in each room. What makes you happy and what you could easily do without. Don’t forget the aspect of function. For example, too many papers around? Maybe you need more storage solutions. Make a note of that. You never go into certain rooms. There may be a reason for that. Make a note of that, too. Take really good notes!
3. Check your wallet.
Most everyone does not have the budget to design a space that completely reflects what they like. I have plenty of hand-me-down pieces that are more functional than anything, but there are elements of our spaces that we can change for very little money. And, we can certainly delete certain items over time that bring us down or zap our energy. Pass those pieces on to someone else who enjoys them. See what your budget can allow for improvements in your space.
Now that have taken note of where you are, here are some ways to go deeper and find what your personal aesthetic is and what can define the space where you live to create the mood you wish and reflect who you are:
4. Be a collector.
Start cutting out magazine pages and ads, grab color strips from the paint store, pull out a bristle of a brush because you like the texture or color, gather wood stain samples and fabric clippings, bring home that feather you found on your hike that you like, etc. You get it. Collect things that speak to you. Find a box that you can place all of that in. Remember – no judgment – just stuff you like.
5. Get bored.
Create a Pinterest account and create some boards with pins that inspire you. Don’t analyze it too much. It may seem unrelated but that is okay.
6. Jot it down.
Note how particular places you have been made you feel. Jot down a restaurant you liked, how a dish was presented, the shape of a building, a painting you liked, a store decor that was fun. Take photos of them. Focus on how these places and things make you feel.
THE RESULTS OF THE 6-STEP PROCESS
Three results should occur after completing the above six steps:
1. The assessment gives you a general idea of what you like, the feeling it generates for you and what you want to change about your current space. You will decide on a budget to make any changes. Your budget may be very little or nothing at all and that is fine. You can do a lot by deleting and switching things around from room to room and taking on a DIY project or two.
2. You should see from your box of items, Pinterest boards and notes some commonalities, be that in color, shapes, textures, styles. It will point you in a direction so that when you are making the next choices for your home, you have a better idea of what pleases you, inspires you, what works, and creates a feeling you want to convey most of the time in your space. You have created a 3D “mood board” of sorts made up of various items – not just photographs – that you can refer to later.
3. You can also now create a list of changes you want to make to your space to function better as well as feel better and be more like you. It will take time, so be patient, Begin with the rooms you are in the most.
WHAT TO DO FIRST BEFORE MAKING CHANGES AND ADDITIONS TO YOUR HOME
Here are two important actions to take before redesigning your space:
1. Be generous.
Get our your notes you took when you went room by room in the previous steps. From that list, decide what you can do without. Start this weekend and make plans to give those items away or make some ads for pieces you do not use. (I am a CraigsList fan!) Perhaps the cash you create from a sale can be put towards a better piece or work of art you love. Remember: Don’t bring in new items that don’t fill your needs or your taste.
Don’t miss this: My Q and A interview with a London interior designer on the critical step of decluttering. Great tips and perspective!
2. Start decluttering.
Pick a room once a week and toss what you can: papers, dried up pens, broken what-nots, etc. Give away books and magazines you have already read and won’t need. Start putting things in their proper place as well so that they are where you need them. Get rid of the junk, the clutter.
Don’t miss this: Tap over here for my step-by-step plan to declutter your space efficiently and keep it that way: part 1 and part 2.
Your space should begin to feel a lot lighter and more like you. Narrowing down your personal taste for your space will save you time and money, too, as you have an idea now of what you want and like. These steps should help you begin to design a space you feel good in and meets your needs, is uplifting and functional (to allow greater productivity), and hopefully, inspiring and comforting, too. All that spells a much better mood, a much better you!
Please let me know how this process goes for you. Tweet using #THM/newspace if you like, or drop by in the comments! I can’t wait to hear!
FOR MORE ON THE TOPIC . . .
- During all that decluttering, break out the tunes and learn how great music is for your health, too!
- Travel is always inspiring (well, most of the time!). Make your travels count with tips here