How does the environment we live in impact how we feel?

May 20, 2020 | Renate Wassenberg

In this Corona-crisis, I have been confined at home, like most of us. Some of my clients have thoroughly enjoyed spending so much time with their loved ones at home, but others have felt trapped, disconnected, uninspired and depressed. Now more than ever, we need to feel comfortable in the environment we spend all of our days in. I wondered, is there something we can do about the environment we now work and live in, to optimize how we feel? I decided to interview an Interior Designer and ask for her tips for those who struggle with it.

“6 Questions with…”: Interior Designer Lucy Axam, owner of LA Design in Founex.

1.Now many of us work from home, how much does the environment we live in impact how we feel and why?

The way our environment impacts us is profound, and the reason it is so powerful is because it is often only felt on an unconscious level. When you walk into a room you automatically feel something and whilst most of us are not aware of it, it deeply affects our mood. Bad lighting is the most common reason a room lacks appeal.

2. Even if we love the space we live in, we sometimes feel the need to get out of the house. What would be a place you could live in that you would never get tired of (if it exists)?

I think a view is important – it doesn’t have to be spectacular but I do think seeing a changing sky at sunset or trees changing colors with the seasons or simply a beautiful clean table with a fresh bunch of flowers in a vase is mentally refreshing. I think it is important to notice our environment and to feel we are connected to it.

3. What kind of (work) environment would you say is great for productivity and why? (i.e. tidied up, clean, cosy, boring)

If you want to get work done then it is imperative to have a tidy desk. Here is my bullet-proof ‘Success Desk’ list:

–       A list of tasks ready to tick off

–       A glass of water (but not too near your computer – I talk from experience),

–       A candle for focus

–       Soft (lyric free) music.

–       A plant to add life to the space.

4. Is there a relation between the colours we see around us and our moods? (i.e. would a blue wall inspire us?).

Colours deeply impact our mood. Warm colors are energizing and cool colors are generally relaxing – however in all of these there are hues and nuances which can go either way. Red is the colour of passion – love and anger, blue is a cool and calming colour. Like personality traits, all colours have their positive and negative points. Different colours can encourage different types of performance. For example purple and blue are known to curb appetite – so that’s great if you are on a diet – but not so good if your business is running a restaurant and trying to sell food. Red and yellows encourage people to speed up – which may explain some of the marketing choices behind McDonalds colour choices.

5. What has kept you inspired and creative during this confinement at home?

Confinement has been a great time to really ‘see’ what our homes look like and how we feel when we spend so much time in them. I have loved rearranging spaces and nooks and feel that even small changes can make a massive impact on our emotional health. You don’t need to buy anything new, just have a play and get creative with what you have. We were lucky that the confinement happened in spring time. Simple gestures like freshly picked flowers in a vase – can lift a room.

6. What are your top 4 suggestions for making any type of living space feel more comfortable to reside in?

1) Lighting. If there is only one change you make – this should be it! The most important (and overlooked) home design issue is lighting. Luckily it’s also easy to modify. Turn off overhead lights and add floor lamps or table lamps. My top trick is to light up the darkest corners of a room and I recommend having 2 sources of light at least. You’ll see, the transformation is huge.

2) Curtains and soft furnishings. You wouldn’t believe the number of people who say ‘I’m not a curtain person’. Curtains have a more important task then simply blocking out sunlight or creating privacy. These soft structures add height and finish off any room. They serve to frame the great outdoors as well as insulating against noise. Carpets, throws and cushions all play a part in softening a room and making it feel more soft and welcoming.

3) Plants. I would always vote for real plants over fake (though many good faux plants exist). My reasons for this is that a) it is nice to care for something and b) they are actively cleaning the air we breathe. But most importantly, plants help make a room feel fresh, alive and healthy!

4) Accessories. My last tip is to make sure your eye can rest on a nice scene within your home. This can be a nicely arranged table top, a picture of ones you love, a vase of flowers or a well made bed. We do not compute half the things we see on a daily basis but we will feel them all … and they all feed into our state of mind. In chaotic times the mind needs pools of simplicity and structure to regenerate and relax.