Picture this: after a long, stressful day at work or school, all you ever wanted to do is to strip off your day’s clothing and fall face down on the softness of your couch or bed. Us, humans, have always been like that. We seek comfort and refuge in the four corners of our home– to let ourselves rest while being shielded from the world’s criticisms and judgements.

With that being said, it’s crucial that your home is a haven that can provide all the support and positive emotional energy to help you recuperate and recharge. In this article, we will explore the psychological effects of interior design and how to decorate room for mental health.

How Does Interior Design Affect Someone’s Mood?

how to decorate room for mental health

According to Inspira Health, the three most common mental illnesses are PTSD, anxiety and depression. In the Philippines, the recent pandemic has heightened the number of mental health concerns, according to Philstar Global. In addition, a study from AXA Philippines revealed that ‘Filipino respondents in the 18- to 24-year-old bracket that admitted going through bouts of depression and anxiety were higher than global numbers.’

Taking care of someone’s mental health starts at home. Aside from the constant support and open communication between members of the household, the way we consciously manipulate decorative elements inside our haven impacts our mental health. The interior design use in alleviating depression and anxiety has been proven for years. That’s why it’s also crucial to cultivate an environment that reaps psychological and physiological benefits.

Environmental Psychology: An Overview

The connection of mental health and interior design isn’t new to us. For years, experts have been extensively studying the correlation of a neat, well-lighted space in the overall disposition of a person. This practice is called environmental psychology.

The Journal of Environmental Psychology defines environmental psychology as ‘the study of transactions and interrelationships between people and their physical surroundings.’ Environmental psychology exists to explain and understand how a person alters his environment and how his surroundings affect his behavior.

Basically, it is the interplay of people and environment.

How to Decorate Room for Mental Health

Allow more natural light

how to decorate room for mental health

Studies have shown that natural light has been linked to provide mood lifting benefits. A light drenched room is proven to provide positive emotional energy and boost happiness.

If your space isn’t receiving enough sunlight or natural light, you can opt to add artificial light instead. Assess first if your room is too crowded or contains a lot of furniture.

Add nature inside

We all know the benefit of adding plants and flowers into our home–from its air-purifying benefits up to serving as decorative elements. Incorporating natural elements also contributes in creating mentally healthy spaces inside our homes.

According to studies, house plants help reduce stress and fatigue. Cutting through loneliness and sadness they also evoke a sense of purpose by taking care of them. Some people have taken up gardening as a hobby to fight through depression.

Choose the appropriate color palette

how to decorate room for mental health
psychological effects of interior design
interior design use in alleviating depression and anxiety

With the psychology of the environment comes the psychology of colors. As we all know, some colors consistently evoke different types of emotions. Real Simple suggests choosing color palettes based on the ‘energy level you want to create in a room.’

So how does that work?

For instance, if you want a room with an energizing feel, use contrasting colors. They are the one who sits opposite each other on the color feel. Inversely, for a more serene and blissful environment, incorporate cool colors like blue, green, or purple. But be careful! Too much dark purple can actually make some people even more depressed or feel irritable.

Here’s a list of colors and their effect:

  • Blue- Blue works well with bright whites, as it evokes a feeling of calmness and serenity and is commonly used in financial institutions and health offices. However, according to Color Matters, blue is the least appetizing color that’s why it is seldomly used in restaurants and kitchens.
  • Green- The color green falls into the spectrum of cool colors and is usually associated with balance, harmony, and nature. It is a great option if you like the idea of ‘bringing nature indoors.’ Aside from balance and harmony, the color green also lowers levels of stress and anxiety.
    Using the color green to design spaces may be a bit tricky. Saturated shades may make a room look dark and gloomy. On the other hand, apple greens create a cheerful vibe but can overpower or counter colors when used too much.
  • Purple- The color purple is usually associated with luxury and privilege. It is also linked to creativity, individuality, and divinity. Try using the color purple in your interior design elements to make a bold statement as the color purple isn’t commonly used in home interiors.
    However, take note that too much dark purple can make people sad or depressed.
  • Yellow- The only warm color that’s associated with happiness, yellow evokes a feeling of relaxation and happiness. In interior decorating, it is usually used in kitchens, children’s rooms, and some private areas for its nurturing feel. It is also believed to improve a bad mood but sometimes can be distracting.

How to decorate room for mental health: Incorporate artworks

In an BrainWorld interview with Dr. Semir Zeki, a professor of neuroaesthetics at the University College London, revealed that experiencing the beauty of art causes the brain to release dopamine–the chemical that’s responsible for our feelings of happiness and love. That is why dopamine is also referred to as the ‘happy hormone.’ Meaning, incorporating artworks into our living space can have a profound effect on our daily lives.

If you aren’t certain what type of artwork you should hang in the bare walls of your living room or bedroom, you can start adding paintings with bright, lively colors in the living room or soothing abstracts in your bedroom. Don’t be afraid to explore what type suits your taste and needs. You can also seek help from interior designers to determine what artworks best suit your space.

Aside from paintings, you can also hang photographs of your families, friends, or even pets. Check out these photo display ideas by Artifact Uprising.

Consider the flow of space

The furniture placement also affects your overall mood and perception. You can seek the guidance of feng shui to be able to arrange your furniture as beneficial as possible.

For references, you should be able to navigate freely around the room. In an interview of Real Simple with Noel Gatts, interior designer and a host of HGTV’s Home Inspector Joe, Gatts suggests that “lines and curves create visual movement, so experiment with your space, taking your preferred traffic patterns and focal points into consideration,” she says. “Try pulling some furniture pieces away from the wall to create comfortable gathering areas and more open flow.”

Don’t forget your pets


For pet-lovers, having a dedicated area for their dear pets inside their homes is a must. And it’s no surprise that they’ll be taken into consideration when designing or renovating a home.

Various studies have shown that interacting with our pets reduces stress levels and prevents negative emotional response.

How to decorate room for mental heath: Avoid sharp lines

Posh Pennies states that having too many sharp points and ragged edges in a home causes anxiety to stir. As our brains interpret these lines as dangerous, it activates the release of adrenaline and cortisol. Frequent exposure to these may have a long term effect on someones’ mental health.

To counter this, try adding furniture or decors that have curves.

Final Takeaway

If you are looking for ways to improve your mental health (and reap the psychological effects of interior design), you can start by arranging the space around you. By knowing how to decorate room for mental health, you can create a space that is conducive to rest, relaxation, and productivity. And by surrounding yourself with things that you love, you can boost your mood and overall sense of well-being.