A Therapist-Turned-Designer Shares How To Design A Home That Boosts Your Mood
We recently talked aboutdopamine dressing — dressing in bright, bold colors — to lift your mood, and this week we’re chatting up therapist-turned-designer Jill Croka for mood-boosting tips for designing your space. “Our spaces deeply affect our mood and wellbeing, even if on a subconscious level," says Croka. "The materials we surround ourselves with can both invigorate our senses or calm our nervous system." From creating a sense of balance to choosing art with mood in mind, here are tips to take with you through May (AKA Mental Health Awareness Month) and beyond so you can design a home that reflects and inspires a calm, happy spirit.
Photo: Dane Deaner for Unsplash
Clear away clutter, physical and emotional.
Clutter can bring you down and stress you out. Things are in the way, you can’t find what you need, and you just can’t get to cleaning it all up. "Clutter stimulates the nervous system and causes stress," says Croka. "Using systems to contain and organize creates a more functional and soothing environment." Kick off a new day with less stuff for a peaceful, calming home. Donate, recycle, swap, or store anything that you don’t use or want or need to clear it out of your home *and* your mind.
Look into digital decluttering too (deleting old emails, storing photos and videos, trashing old files) and even clearing out emotional clutter. Journal about what is working well in your life and what isn’t. What is making you feel stressed or overwhelmed? What can you do to eliminate this type of clutter from your mind in order to free it up for more productive and satisfying experiences? Look at ways to simplify your life by the way you organize your space, and start to feel in more control of your life.
Check out How To Actually Declutter Your Space (Beyond Your Closet), According to the Prosfor a room-by-room guide.
Photo: Courtesy of Jill Croka
Connect with nature, indoors and out.
“Research shows that cues from nature in materials lower your blood pressure and stress,” says Croka. “The same effect can be achieved with layering textures and soft earth tones.” Bring in more plants, clean windows to enhance your natural light, freshen up your sheets and throw pillows to give your space a light, airy vibe.
“Focusing on window views and outdoor landscape is extremely helpful for mental health,” says Croka. If you lack views and an outdoor space: "Bring in layers of light with lamps, sconces, pendants to add warmth, while introducing plants to give life to the space and bring the outdoors in," she adds.
Check out 5 Quick Ways to Add Texture To Any Room.
Photo: Spacejoy for Unsplash
Create a sense of balance.
“Balance is key to any successful space so depending on the architecture of the space, balance should be achieved with materials and furniture placement to achieve the overall function of the space,” says Croka. Look for symmetry in seating and move things around to create open spaces that allow for breathing room, even if you have a small space. Pair colors you love with neutrals so they pop in small doses of happiness.
Think about how you start your morning and go about your day. If you WFH, create an inviting workspacethat is clean, organized, and perhaps has your favorite candle nearby, words of wisdom on the wall, or just a great view. If you have rushed mornings in which you’re running out the door, create a functional and beautiful entryway where you can always put your keys, bag, hat, sunglasses, etc.
Photo: Julia Peretiatko for Unsplash
Carve out a meditation zone.
Whether this is a reading nook or an actual yoga/meditation space, find a calming center for your home that allows you to check in with yourself and take a break from social media, work, all the life’s demands. Center yourself with breathing exercises or whatever grounds you so you can go about your day (or night) mentally stronger.
Photo: Courtesy of Jill Croka
Display art that makes you feel good.
“Art really is the last element to bring the space together and make the home feel lived in, while still providing a unique experience,” says Croka. Find art that brings you a sense of calm and/or joy. Nature-inspired prints that remind you of your happy place, typographic sentiments that inspire you, abstract prints that make you feel hopeful. "Art should be a reflection of you and your space and can be uplifting and inspiring," says Croka.
Photo: Estée Janssens for Unsplash
DIY a vision board.
Use your home to help you goal set. Create a vision board that represents the life you want, from the career you want to build to the relationships you want to foster in your life. Having this positive outlook on your future can help you organize your thoughts into clear, actionable goals and maintain a sense of purpose, ultimately giving you the daily mood boost you need to feel better at home.
Find more home decor inspo on our Pinterest page!
Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.