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Interior Design - Mood and Attitude

July 3rd, 2019

Category: WB Jamieson

Author: Darren Seymour

Interior Design - Mood and Attitude

Quite rightly, as a society we are beginning to discuss mental health and well-being much more than ever before. This transparency opens up the conversation and allows us to explore all the ways in which our mental health can be affected.
The growing attention on mental health and the changing attitudes towards it may be a relatively new thing, but in terms of the very idea of environmental psychology, The concept and the practice has existed for thousands of years, just look at the indian Vastu Shastra or the Chinese Feng Shui .

There is a great deal of scientific research on this area with results that prove the ability of Interior Design elements to evoke a positive or negative emotional response. With this knowledge we are able to consciously and actively design spaces which can promote desirable emotional responses such as encouraging aspects of harmony, energy, fun, relaxation etc.

Objects and elements of a room can have a significant impact on your mood.


The idea that colours can effect our mood is one that even appears in our everyday vocabulary - That could be feeling blue or seeing red, or even green with envy. 

Colour psychology

Vibrant colours - encourage socialising and communication, used incorrectly, can be overwhelming and distracting.

Darker hues - In the right setting can give a sense of comfort, If used incorrectly however darker colours can also make a space feel gloomy

Warmer shades - Inspire relaxation and cosiness

Cooler shades - Can create a sense of calm

Red is a difficult colour to use in spaces as if used incorrectly it can appear hostile and increase anxiety if it dominates a room.


How a space is lit can also inform the overall ambience of a room. Spaces which utilise natural light from the sun with a large number of windows can have a positive boost on the inhabitants happiness, in contrast a lack of natural light can increase sadness and enhance anxiety. Natural light improves human performance too.

Scientific Survey

According to a survey published in a Journal of the Association of Psychological Science, it was found, as expected, that when the participants were told of hypothetical rooms and asked to match two descriptions to those rooms, the results found that what we commonly associate with a rooms purpose was shown in the choice of descriptive words. For example, a Bedrom should convey romance, an entry room should be inviting and a closet should represent organisation etc.

Size and Space

Size and space is another factor in influencing an occupants mood. It was found that something which is often overlooked when conveying a sense of space; the ceiling height can greatly alter the inhabitants perception of space and environment. Further evidence proved that people feel more creative and focused in rooms with higher ceilings with a significant increase in mood.

Natural Elements / Plants

Plants in the study were also found to promote concentration and even memory retention due to the sight of natural elements reducing stress.

Texture and Shape

Further to colour, spaciousness and natural elements, it is known that certain shapes and textures can produce emotional responses. In the practice of Feng Shui shapes and textures should represent in some way natural elements of earth, water, wood, metal and fire.

Feng Shui

Feng Shui, although not based on scientific understanding, does have some value when deciding how to maximise a space's flow and increase its functionality. The discipline teaches that furniture should not be placed in such a way to create 'dead space' as it fosters negative energy. While you may or may not believe in the presence of negative energy, the lesson is sound in that it does promote a more natural flow and a better way of living without wasting valuable space.

Another idea in Feng Shui is that balance should be more important than symmetry. This also allows for spaces that work well for their inhabitants rather than enforcing strict symmetry especially in non-conventional spaces where symmetry is not possible.

It is clear to see that good Interior design can be informed by psychology, and some aspects of ancient disciplines such as Feng Shui, as a means to promote the positive emotional effects of an environment or a space.

Persuasive design

Persuasive design is a means of utilising elements within a room to encourage particular behaviours. For example, the placement of chairs around a table as opposed to facing a TV will encourage communication. 

Spatial perception

Creating open areas within an enclosed environment give the perception of freedom.

Natural elements

utilising elements of nature (water, plants etc) promotes an area of relaxation.

In conclusion

Interior designer's practices have certainly been backed up by scientific reasoning.

Design is able to promote good mood and health. With careful consideration of the noted elements, laid out above, the design of an environment can have positive effects on the people who use the space. 

Something in which both designers and Psychologists both agree on.


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