The mes­sages your home sends to you and about you

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Sally Coulthard

YOUR home has the power to change your mood in an in­stant. The right environment calms, ex­cites, re­laxes or re­vives. It re­minds us of who we are or who we want to be. On the flip-side, the wrong environment can drain us, make us feel anx­ious, de­pressed, un­com­fort­able or even ill.

It’s a re­la­tion­ship that few of us can put into words yet we know it ex­ists. We feel it ev­ery time we walk through the front door. Ar­chi­tects have long un­der­stood the power of build­ings to in­voke a re­sponse.

They cre­ate spa­ces de­signed to com­mu­ni­cate a mes­sage, whether it’s the sooth­ing space of a hos­pi­tal or the solem­nity of a court room. Houses work in ex­actly the same way and we end­lessly cre­ate, re-work and main­tain our nests be­cause as well as ful­fill­ing our ba­sic need for shel­ter, we want our homes to sat­isfy our emo­tional needs.

Un­for­tu­nately, we don’t al­ways suc­ceed. “Home” should say some­thing about who we are. When we step into a room, we want it to re­flect what’s im­por­tant to us, to say some­thing about where we’ve come from and where we’re go­ing.

We want our houses to make us feel homely, com­fort­able and re­laxed. We also want our home to re­veal what we value about our fam­ily life, pas­sions and pas­times.

So many houses miss the mark. So many houses just don’t feel “homely” and they say noth­ing about the peo­ple who live there. In­te­rior de­sign seems so su­per­fi­cial but at the heart of good de­sign is the power to change peo­ple’s lives for the bet­ter.

When it comes to hap­pi­ness, build­ings mat­ter. But what can we prac­ti­cally do to change the spa­ces we al­ready live in? With the right know-how, we can cre­ate an environment that up­lifts, sup­ports, nur­tures and en­hances our lives. Just fol­low some ba­sic rules:

1. Make your­self com­fort­able. It might seem ob­vi­ous but com­fort can of­ten be lost in the pur­suit of cre­at­ing a dream in­te­rior. Ask your­self how com­fort­able you are in each room – does the fur­ni­ture make you feel sup­ported, rested or cush­ioned? Is the light­ing and heat­ing ad­e­quate? What about un­wanted draughts or noise? Tackle these el­e­ments first and you’ll soon im­prove the sen­sory el­e­ments and phys­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing at home.

2. Cre­ate a space that works. There’s noth­ing more frus­trat­ing than a home where it takes lots of ef­fort just to do the sim­ple jobs. You need to ask your­self how use­ful is your home as it’s cur­rently ar­ranged? Is it work­ing as a prac­ti­cal space to carry out your daily life? Con­sider de-clut­ter­ing and cre­at­ing more stor­age. Look at your sys­tems for wash­ing clothes, re­cy­cling, mak­ing food etc.

3. Live with things you love. Real dec­o­ra­tion is about as­so­ci­a­tions, mem­o­ries and per­sonal taste. Make your home re­flect who you are and rep­re­sent what you hold dear. Ex­press your ideals and cre­ativ­ity. Cre­ate col­lec­tions and hang pho­tographs of friends and fam­ily. Dis­play the things that make you smile whether it’s your chil­dren’s art­work or a trea­sured heir­loom.

4. Cre­ate char­ac­ter. Make friends with your home and cel­e­brate its per­son­al­ity. Dis­cover your home’s in­nate char­ac­ter by re­veal­ing its age, quirks and his­tory. Make the most of any pe­riod quirks or ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures.

5. Think be­yond the thresh­old. Peo­ple feel hap­pi­est about where they live when they feel con­nected to a wider com­mu­nity. To stop your­self feel­ing iso­lated, pluck up courage and make friends with the neigh­bours, get in­volved in com­mu­nity events or vol­un­teer for a lo­cal scheme. Make the most of your lo­cal shop, li­brary, church or play­ground – you’ll soon start see­ing the same friendly faces.

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