Imagine waking up in a space that instantly makes you smile. The colours are saturated, the sunlight is streaming through the windows, and every corner of the room feels like it was designed just for you in this moment. 

(Photo credit: Unshelf Design project in De Winton)

This is the correlation between interior design and mental health

Our homes aren’t just a compliation of bricks, wood, and paint. They can actually be healing spaces full of comfort and calm. In this article, I’ll explore the connection between interior design and mental health and detail how you can create a home that embraces joy.

The Connection Between Interior Design and Mental Health

Have you ever walked into a room and felt an immediate sense of calm? Or perhaps you’ve entered a space that made you feel instantly anxious? 

Our surroundings have a profound effect on our emotions and well-being. And this is not just a subjective experience – it’s backed by real science. The layout, colours, lighting, and even the textures in our homes play a crucial role in shaping our mood and overall mental health.

(Photo credit: Unshelf Design project in De Winton)

Rooms filled with natural light, soft colours, and comfortable furniture have the power to put our minds at ease. By using interior design and mental health understanding to create environments that promote relaxation and joy, we can significantly improve our well-being and overall happiness.

The Psychological Impact of Your Surroundings

As we’ve learned, our surroundings have a direct impact on our mental well-being – they can either uplift us or bring us down. 


Research has shown that a cluttered environment can increase stress levels and make it difficult to focus. One study even found that women who reported more clutter in their homes had higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) than women who reported less clutter.

On the other hand, an organized and aesthetically pleasing space can enhance our mood and improve our cognitive abilities.                       

kitchen before
kitchen after


Did you know that our brains have built-in beauty-recognition systems? More specifically, studies consistently show that the brain’s reward system lights up when shown attractive faces. And guess what – this beauty-recognition system is also triggered by aesthetically-pleasing design and architecture. 

(Photo credit: Unshelf Design project in Cochrane)

When we enter a space that is visually appealing and well-designed, our brains release dopamine, which not only makes us feel good in the moment, but also reinforces positive associations with the space, making us more likely to seek out similar environments in the future.

Textures and Materials

The textures and materials in our surroundings can also influence our mental state and sensory experience. For example, soft and plush textures can evoke feelings of comfort and coziness, while rough textures can create a sense of ruggedness and adventure.

Natural Elements

Humans have this amazing connection with nature, a bond that’s so deep-rooted it’s been given a fancy name – ‘biophilia.’ It’s why we feel so good after a walk in the park, why we love hearing birds chirping, and why sunsets can leave us feeling awestruck. 

bonzai tree

And research shows that bringing a touch of the outdoors indoors, like with plants or natural materials, can really boost our mental health, mood, and happiness.  Indoor plants, for example, are not just pretty to look at; they have been proven to reduce stress, improve air quality, and boost our mood

Colour Psychology

Colour psychology plays a crucial role in interior design because different colours evoke different emotions. Warm colours like red and yellow are known to stimulate energy and excitement, while cool colours like blue and green promote a sense of calm and tranquillity.

By understanding the psychology of colour, we can use it strategically to create spaces that bring us joy and comfort. Get the Colour 101 lowdown now.


Natural light has been shown to improve mood and increase productivity, while harsh fluorescent lighting can cause eye strain and fatigue. Incorporating a variety of lighting sources, such as task lighting, ambient lighting, and natural light creates a dynamic and adaptable space that caters to our emotional needs throughout the day.

The correlation between interior design and mental health is clear. Beyond aesthetics, design has a profound impact on our happiness and overall well-being. 

Tips for Creating Homes that Hug You

Now that we understand the connection between interior design and mental health, how can we create joyful spaces that truly embrace us? Let’s explore a few principles:

Design for Tidiness 

Staying tidy and organized doesn’t have to be a chore! Here are some clever tips to help keep your space looking spick and span:

Get Storage Savvy

basket storage ideas

Maximize your space by using furniture that doubles as storage, like an ottoman with a hidden compartment or a bed with drawers underneath. Vertical storage solutions like tall bookcases or shelving units can also help you take advantage of underutilized space.

Use Baskets and Bins

These can be a lifesaver when it comes to keeping things tidy. Assign a basket or bin for different types of items—like toys, magazines, or remotes—and you’ll always know where to find them (and where to put them back!)

Keep it Natural

Maintaining a strong tie with nature indoors has a significant impact on our mood and overall well-being. Here are some easy ways to get your biophilic design on and bring the outdoors in:


Incorporate large windows, skylights, or light-coloured curtains to maximize the amount of natural light in your home. Not only does natural light uplift your spirits, but it also enhances the beauty of your surroundings. It really has a way of bringing out the best in everything it touches, making your space come alive with a sense of vibrancy and vitality.


Indoor plants are the easiest way to bring nature into your home. From large, leafy palms to cute, little succulents, there’s a plant perfect for every room. If you’re not gifted with a green thumb, don’t worry! There are many low-maintenance plants out there, like snake plants or spider plants, that are super easy to take care of. Still scared? Silk plants have come a long way.


When choosing furniture or decor, consider materials like wood, bamboo, stone, or wicker. These materials have textures and patterns that immediately remind us of nature and can give a room a warm, organic feel.

Pick the Right Colours

Colour has the power to transform a space and evoke specific emotions. Choose colours that resonate with you and bring you joy. Consider using a vibrant accent wall, incorporating colourful furniture, or adding pops of colour through accessories. 

When planning out your colour scheme, keep the psychology in mind:

  • Warm Tones: create a cozy and inviting ambiance, perfect for a living room or bedroom
  • Cool Tones: evoke a sense of serenity and relaxation, ideal for a bathroom or meditation space

Add a Personal Touch

A home that hugs is a home that celebrates your individuality. Incorporate personal touches that make you feel happy and bring back cherished memories. Display photographs, artwork, unique decor, or sentimental objects that hold special meaning to you. Surrounding yourself with things you love is a surefire way to create a space that embraces joy.

Personal touches not only add character to your space but also create a sense of belonging and comfort. They serve as a visual reminder of the experiences, people, and places that have shaped your life. Whether it’s a collection of seashells from your favourite beach or a vintage record player that fills the room with nostalgic tunes, these personal touches infuse your home with joy and a sense of connection.

Wrapping Up

Creating a home that hugs is about more than just looking good – it’s about promoting our own well-being and embracing joy. 

By understanding the relation between interior design and mental health and designing our homes to be more joyful, we not only make them look picturesque, but we also create spaces that make us feel happy, relaxed, and comfortable – you know, the whole ‘rooms that hug’ thing I’m always talking about 🙂

And the cool part is, the benefits of this aren’t just a one-time thing. They can have a big, long-lasting impact on how we feel, improving our everyday lives and keeping us feeling good in the long run.

So, why not start today? You could begin with one room or even just a little nook. See how making these changes affects your mood and your day-to-day life. After all, a home designed with joy at its core is like a home that gives you a big, warm hug – every single day.

Want to learn more about the link between interior design and mental health or need a hand embracing joy in your home? Contact Unshelf Design today!