The Psychology of Interior Design

January 31st, 2014
Does your home ever get you down, or does it make you feel happy about your place in the world? According to some experts, we can make our homes feel new again by paying close attention to the principles and psychology of interior design. The psychology of interior design merges two seemingly unrelated concepts, in an effort to make living spaces that reflect our internal sense of self.
Interior design psychology is a field within environmental psychology, concerned with the links between our environment, behaviour, and well-being. While psychologists such as Walter Benjamin and Sigmund Freud have long been interested in how space affects mind, modern interior designers are more concerned with the practical use of this knowledge to help create more balanced and peaceful homes.

There is a delicate relationship between where we live and how we feel. According to interior designers like Paula Grace Halewski, people are more satisfied when their home is seen as a direct reflection of their internal psychology: "It should feel completely your own, and be tailored to your specific needs and style. Your sense of self should envelop you from the moment you walk in the front door."

Life has a way of blurring this delicate relationship, however, and most of us find ourselves in a design rut at some point in our lives. Whether it's due to a lack of time, energy, money, or all three, it's all too easy to fall out of step with our home environment. Luckily, however, there are some surprisingly simple ideas that can make a big difference to any interior space.

Colour and geometry form the basis of all good design, so it is always important to recognise these two leading principles. According to Melinda Asthon Turner, Style Director of Inside Out UK, colour is “the basis of where it all starts! We have styles and periods that we are drawn to but it’s our preference to certain colours that divides us.” The mood of a room can be dramatically or subtly altered through colour, either by changes to a whole room or through renewing furniture and other items.

While the geometric structure of a room is a lot harder to manipulate, it is possible to alter the orientation within a room and access more usable space through moving or removing furniture. The link between geometry and colour is also important, with both principles leading to a feeling of balance within a space. “There are many surfaces and elements to consider when designing an interior, so by breaking colour into sections or portions you’re able to create a balanced scheme" said Turner.

The relationship between home and happiness has been recognised by a number of psychologists and designers. More than a place to store our belongings and shelter from the elements, a home should invigorate our senses and inspire our imagination. While expensive artwork, bespoke furniture, and professional designers are all well and good, the psychology of interior design is more about recognising the simple but elusive relationship between the world around us and the one inside.