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.


How to design a home to improve your mood, your helath (via #design, health, mood, mentalhealth

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.





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 design a home to improve your mood, your helath (via #design, health, mood, mentalhealth


I wrote about organizing your medical team, but now, I want to switch it up a bit and focus on your personal space and what it does for you. We can easily design a space that can evoke the moods we wish within our own domains with a bit of thought.

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.


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.


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!



  • Travel is always inspiring (well, most of the time!). Make your travels count with tips here



I have never thought much about how design and decor can help or hurt my mood and health. Thanks for sharing these tips #wowlinkup

Perhaps I got you thinking, then! That's good. Let me know if you make any changes and if it has an effect! Thanks so much for commenting.

I wish I had more time to decorate. I was doing all of these things when we were designing and decorating our home and now I want to redecorate some items bu need to find the time to make sure my home remains my restful haven. Thanks for the ideas. #wowlinkup

It can be overwhelming, I know. We don't want that! Just start with a room you are in most of the time and make an update or two or eliminate some things that just are not right to you anymore. Best of luck and so good to hear from you!

This is wonderful! I notice such a big difference in my mood when my surroundings are clean, organized etc. Right now they feel chaotic and so do I. Great article and push to get going! #Wowlinkup

Welcome Angie! Yes, your surroundings can play a big role on your mood. Very happy you caught the post and hope it inspires you. Let me know how your clean-up goes!

This is a great post! I am a huge advocate of decluttering for mental health and a better life outlook! <3 –

We are in the same camp then! Thanks so much, Gingi. That means a lot.

I like this idea! I'm not the most decorative person but I need to give this some more thought…thanks! #wowlinkup

So glad I could help you get your creative ideas going! Your space really can help you lead a healthier life. Let me know how it goes for you!

Since I work from home, I spend a LOT of time in my bedroom or balcony. However, I fail to declutter the mess when I see it all the time. I love the idea of writing down notes on how the room makes you feel and what is in each room. What a way to make a room feel magical and energized again! Thanks for this list. Cleaning is way more fun when it's designed like this!

When you work from home, you are right — your environment can really become even more important since you are in your space so much! Decluttering your area is a smart way to feel rejuvenated to work! I am so glad you took the time to comment. Appreciate it!.

I agree with Dannii, and I also think creating a nice environment in your bedroom is so vital. As a very poor sleeper, I just feel like I need to do what I can to help myself get a few more zzzz's. And do the same for my 5 year old daughter. It may sound strange, but we just put up all these Frozen murals in her bedroom and she is delighted with the new space. It looks nice, and she's gets a better night sleep. Personally, I don't want to look at Sven all night, but she does =)

Like I said, beauty and what you like is personal taste. Your daughter is developing hers and anything that will help those little ones sleep is vital! I am with you, a restful bedroom can really help relax you to fall asleep!

I think just having a clean and uncluttered home can make a big difference to how you feel.

So true! It certainly elevates my mood and puts a smile on my face!