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Can You Design Happiness?

The study of interior design’s impact on mental health is a relatively new field, but early research points to a crucial role for designers at the intersection of psychology and design.

For many designers, the link between living spaces and well-being is intuitive. A thoughtfully designed, personalized space sets you at ease, whereas a poorly planned one can bring on stress or blues.

But what that actually looks like can vary widely: Some people feel most at home among rich hues, ample texture and low lighting; others prefer clean lines and sun-splashed minimalism.

And while experts have reached certain points of consensus—like that greenery can boost mood—other topics, like how much symmetry matters in design, aren’t so clear-cut.

When it comes to design elements proven to promote mental health, the research is clear on the benefits of greenery and the great outdoors. Spending time in natural environments can lift mood, improve focus and fight stress. And you don’t have to go for a hike—the idea also extends to bringing the outdoors in.

Perhaps the best part about nature-inspired design is its accessibility. Even if you’re not building or renovating a home, it’s easy to bring natural elements inside for the same mental health benefits, whether it’s a live-edge table or a low-maintenance potted fern.

Something as simple as bringing in fresh flowers or a beautiful plant can enhance the quality of a space.

Natural materials such as wood offer a calmer environment while absorbing noise.

Softly curved and continuous surfaces, inspired by natural forms, can also instill a sense of peace.

Spaces that harmonize with the environment create better energy and make us happier.

Something as simple as bringing in fresh flowers or a beautiful plant can enhance the quality of a space.

The good news is that design’s connection to mental health is garnering growing interest and resources, which means we’re likely to see plenty of new insights in the future.

One thing’s for sure: In this ever-evolving realm, it’s worth keeping an open mind about how design choices can elevate (or inhibit) well-being.

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