Posted inOpinion

Can the design of your home affect your well-being?

Gaurav Aidasani, founder and managing director, Union Square House Real Estate shares secrets to designing spaces that will nourish your soul, foster emotional well-being, and elevate your everyday experiences

Can the design of your home affect your well-being?

Have you ever walked into a room and felt an immediate sense of calm, or conversely, a wave of anxiety? Our surroundings have a profound impact on our mental and emotional well-being. This is especially true for the spaces we spend the most time in—our homes and workplaces.

A growing body of research has established a clear connection between substandard housing conditions—such as overcrowding, dampness, and inadequate facilities—and a rise in mental health issues like anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia, and panic attacks.

The power of design

The psychology of space explores how architectural and interior design choices influence our thoughts, feelings, and approaches. A U.S. Green Building Council survey suggests that employees in LEED-certified buildings experience greater happiness, health, and productivity compared to those in traditional or non-certified workspaces. The concept of space extends beyond aesthetics; it’s also about creating environments that support our mental and emotional health.

Science-backed design principles

Several key design principles can contribute to the positive psychological impact of a certain space:

  • Biophilic design: Humans have an innate connection to nature. Biophilic design incorporates natural elements like light, plants, and natural materials into built environments. Studies show biophilic design can reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and boost mood. Research from the University of Exeter suggests a potential 15% boost in employee productivity with the addition of office plants, while a ‘Human Spaces’ report indicates biophilic design can enhance productivity by 6% and creativity by up to 15%.
  • Colour psychology: Colours have a well-documented effect on our emotions. For example, cool blues and greens promote feelings of calmness, while warm yellows and oranges can boost energy and creativity. Research from the Retail Design Institute highlights the psychological impact of colour in retail spaces. Warm colours like red and orange can stimulate the appetite and encourage shoppers to buy on impulse, while cooler colours like blue and green promote feelings of calmness and are well-suited for relaxation areas.
  • Spatial ergonomics: Optimising space for functionality and comfort is crucial. A well-designed space minimises clutter and allows for easy movement, reducing stress and promoting productivity.
  • The calming influence of water: Water has long been associated with tranquillity and rejuvenation, offering a natural escape from the overstimulation of modern life. Scientific studies suggest that the presence of water can induce a meditative state, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress hormone levels. This phenomenon, known as the ‘blue mind’, highlights the brain’s positive response to water. Incorporating water features, such as serene lagoons, flowing fountains, or indoor aquariums, into architectural and interior design can significantly enhance the tranquillity and overall well-being of a space. The sight and sound of water provide a sensory experience that promotes relaxation, mental clarity, and a sense of peace, making any environment more inviting and soothing.

How can these principles be applied to real estate?

  • Residential retreats: Imagine a home filled with natural light, calming blue and green accents, and a well-designed layout that maximises usable space. This biophilic and ergonomically designed haven can be a refuge from the outside world, promoting relaxation and well-being.
  • Commercial calm: In the workplace, open floor plans can foster collaboration, while strategic use of colours like green or blue can enhance focus and reduce stress. Additionally, incorporating designated relaxation areas can provide opportunities for employees to unwind and recharge.

Personalisation is key

While these principles provide a solid foundation, it’s important to remember that design choices should be tailored to individual preferences and needs. For example, someone who works from home might prioritise a dedicated workspace with ample storage, while a family might value open areas for shared activities.

Investing in well-being

Designing for well-being isn’t just about creating a pleasant environment; it’s a long-term investment. Studies have shown that well-designed homes can command higher rents and sale prices. Let’s not forget that happy and healthy employees are more productive and have lower absenteeism rates.

Empowering informed decisions

Understanding the psychology of space empowers real estate professionals and clients to make informed decisions. When we design with well-being in mind, we go beyond aesthetics to create spaces that nurture our mental and emotional health.