The Psychology of Interior Design

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Studies into environmental psychology may surprise you with their scope. It is not all about deep psychological connections between you and your life experiences, but also encompasses an unexpected area: how your physical surroundings can affect your mood and wellbeing.

Some physical elements can evoke positive or negative emotional responses within us, that may feel unexpected, but are in fact linked subconsciously to the colours, lights, and textures around us. Let’s take a look at some of these elements and how we can decorate our homes to create the desired effect…

Colour Schemes

A lot of people have already discovered the impact that colour can have on the mood of a room and its occupants. Bright, bold colours like reds and oranges evoke stronger emotions, embodying energy and passion. They can drive a sense of purpose on a good day, but could potentially be ‘stressful’ on a bad day. Yellows nurture a sense of happiness and relaxation, whilst greens, of course, symbolize growth and prosperity. Darker shades such as navy are relaxing and tranquil, whilst rich purples are alluring and exciting.

Creating a living room or bedroom from neutral tones and accenting with relaxing and inviting colours is a great way to introduce subconscious psychology of interior design. Using bold colours as your base, for example, a wall colour, makes a statement to your guests.

Lighting Ambiance

You may not have realized it, but the amount and type of light in a room also affects how you feel. Lighting can be used heavily for more functional spaces, where organization or purpose is required, such as the kitchen or study. Softer and dispersed lighting is appropriate for relaxed or romantic spaces such as the bedroom or lounge, where an inviting and snuggled-up feeling is most welcome.

Room Requirements

You will subconsciously know this, but may not have thought about it outright. The physical room you find yourself in, and its stereotypical attributions, affect how you feel and operate within it. For example, the bedroom is seen as a relaxing, comforting and even romantic space. Trying to study or complete a work project in the bedroom may prove challenging, as you subconsciously feel that this type of work is not appropriate for the setting.

Texture Time

Your mood is also influenced greatly by textures, according to the ancient art of Feng Shui. The Chinese practice prescribes that fluffy and shaggy textures create a sense of luxury and comfort, whilst wooden textures signify growth, and accents of metallic pieces encourage strength and fortification.


The very things you own can affect how you feel, and how your guests perceive you, based on subconscious connections. Guests in a home unconsciously evaluate your possessions based on these four factors:

  • Function: What is the room used for and how effectively do its contents allow that function to be carried out. Do they make the experience worthwhile? For example, a plush couch is wonderful to recline on.
  • Exchange: Does the possession appear to be worth the monetary value paid for it? For example, an expensive Smart TV is perceived more worthy and exchange than a R10, 000 coffee table.
  • Symbolism: Does the item hold significant sentimental value, or emotional attachments, which make it more fitting or valuable to the space? Such as an antique piece of furniture or heirloom trinket.
  • Sign: Is the item linked to a brand or message that signifies status of the owner? Owning luxury brands is a way of increasing this sign.

You should consider these elements in the psychology of design when creating your living space. Taking into account that what you own will impact your wellbeing, perhaps it is time to consider your psychology when decorating your space…

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