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Using Design Psychology to Create Your Perfect Space

“Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel.

Energies are contagious.”


We all know the people we choose to spend time with impacts how we feel and behave. But we are often not so aware of how much our physical surroundings influence us as well.

Here’s a simple illustration- imagine yourself in a luxury sports car. Do you feel sophisticated and empowered?

Now imagine you are in your grandmother’s kitchen…are you nostalgic, comforted, cozy?

The environment we create around ourselves impacts how we view life, how we feel about ourselves, and even our energy levels. We are sensitive beings! That’s why it’s important to remember when designing a space to consider what kind of feelings you want to create.

Let’s go over the basics:

1. Color

When choosing a color, you first need to consider the function of the space. Color can then be used to create a suitable ambiance to compliment its use. If you’re designing a home office, you may want an atmosphere where you feel inspired and invigorated. To help achieve this, you could incorporate shades of orange or yellow, as these colors are known to spark creativity. Science has shown that orange actually increases oxygen to the brain and stimulates brain function, as well as reducing self-consciousness. What an easy way to let your creativity flow!

Here are a few colors and their corresponding effects on mood and psychology:

Red: energy, danger, strength, passion, desire, love

Pink: compassion, nurturing, playful, feminine, warm

Orange: joy, happiness, creativity, success, stimulation

Yellow: joy, happiness, intellect, energy

Green: calmness, nature, harmony, freshness, fertility

Blue: trust, loyalty, wisdom, calmness, heaven

Purple: drama, wealth, sophistication, royalty, creativity

*Keep in mind different shades of a color will evoke different feelings as well.

2. Textiles & Furnishings

While working with clients to determine their personal style, there’s a wide range of “vibes” they’ve requested or been opposed to. For example, one specific client remarked “I don’t like anything feels so cold to me”. What did they mean by that? Modern design is defined by its simple clean lines, bare floors and use of natural materials such as wood, metals, and/or leather. The furnishings are minimalist and the walls are usually neutral white to give off an expansive feel. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in such a room…does it feel cold and uninviting? To some it may, but to others it may feel clean and relaxing. It comes down to your unique personal preference….there are no wrong answers here!

Let’s close our eyes again and imagine another space. This time the client is asking for something ‘warm and inviting’. What elements would you add? You may see a fireplace, family photos, plush rugs, fresh flowers, or velvet throw pillows. Once again, this will vary from person to person. The important thing is to use those elements you come up with and have them incorporated into your design plan.

3. Lighting

Lighting has a huge impact when it comes to the feel of a room. Dim lit, small spaces can be cozy when complementing them with warm colors and soft textures (think romantic candle lit dinner). Alternatively, they can be depressing when paired with the wrong furniture and colors. Even in small spaces, lighting can be used to make a room appear bigger than it actually is. Large picture windows that flood the room with light can achieve this effect, along with skylights where natural light is minimal. When decorating a space that has small windows and not much natural light, I usually suggest to keep curtains completely off or at least sheer and white.

Paint colors are also important. White walls reflect light, automatically making a room seem brighter and more open. Alternatively, dark colors absorb light and make a room appear smaller. (A dark ceiling will make it appear lower than it actually is).

Another way to create light is by using mirrors to reflect it, or multiple mirrors to bounce light around.

Lastly, a simple and effective option is to replace lightbulbs with white LED bulbs. This will create a “faux-daylight” to brighten and lighten it up.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, you can begin using these techniques to confidently create the space of your dreams! Be adventurous and give yourself the freedom to play with ideas as you go. If the function of your space changes, you may want to consider switching up the design as well.

You have the power to influence your emotions by designing the environment around you. Be sure to use it wisely!

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