How Interior Design Affects Mental Health

Inside a $6 million garden paradise.

When I was a kid, I visited this family friend's home, and every time I went there, I always felt super uncomfortable. They would use traditional Filipino furniture that was all hand-carved wood, and the cushions were so thin that it sometimes made sitting painful. There was a lot of clutter, and I remember it being so dark. Of course, there were windows, but these heavy and dark curtains always covered them. It always made me feel uneasy and uncomfortable. That's why I hung out in the backyard most of the time.

Last week we talked about why interior design matters. An ongoing theme of that article focused on how design makes us feel.

This is why we're diving deep into a topic that's not only fascinating but also incredibly relevant to each of us - how interior design affects mental health. This isn't just about creating beautiful rooms; it's about designing spaces that foster peace, productivity, and positive mental well-being, whether at work or home.

This week's featured project is a gorgeous property at 151 Alamo Springs Drive in Alamo, California. This home is currently listed on the market by the Khrista Jarvis Team and holds features intended to make you feel calm and relaxed. From the water features to the views or the quiet spaces for relaxing, this home is a prime example of how great design can positively affect your mental health.

Design is emotion made visible.

The Psychology of Space

You might be curious as to how psychology and interior design are related. In actuality, they're more connected than most of us are aware of, as I found out when I was remodeling my house. When choosing paint colors, I noticed that I was naturally pulled to calming blues for the bedroom and vibrant yellows for the kitchen. Yet why? The study of how our environments affect us emotionally and behaviorally constitutes a distinct subfield of psychology called environmental psychology.

Let's consider our everyday schedules: we wake in our bedrooms, rush to our offices, relax in our living rooms, and then go to the peace of our bedrooms. The environments we pass through have an emotional impact on these shifts as well as the physical ones.

Have you ever experienced increased concentration and productivity in a tidy, uncluttered workspace? Or have you ever seen how a restaurant with low lighting may make you feel cozy and intimate, encouraging you to enjoy your meal and company? These occurrences are not random. Our surroundings subtly but significantly impact our emotions, mood, and actions.

The backyard space of our featured project, 151 Alamo Springs, has some of the most relaxing features I've encountered. Imagine sitting outside and watching the sunset while overlooking your private vineyard. Behind you, you hear the soothing sounds of flowing water from the water features of your private pool. Nothing can disturb your experience because the home is on a quiet cul de sac hidden away from any busy city street. Everything about the backyard was designed with serenity and tranquility, from the greenery to water use.

The Importance of Personal Space in Maintaining Mental Health

Do you remember the first space that you got to call your own? Your own apartment, studio, office, dorm room, tree house, or secret space underneath the stairs, lol. Whatever or wherever it was, it was yours.

Growing up, I had an L-shaped bunk bed. Because it was L shaped, there was an open space underneath the taller bed. It was my cave. I put some random stuff in there. I remember having a first aid kit, flashlight, extra socks, and nun chucks. I built a little bunker for myself. I made that space mine by integrating the items that had significant meaning. Whether we recognize it or not, these personal touches convert an anonymous space into a welcoming shelter.

Our unique home or work environments significantly impact our mental health. These spaces can act as our havens, where we replenish our mental energy, or productivity zones, where we concentrate on finishing tasks. The layout of these spaces can significantly affect our stress levels, mood, productivity, and general mental health.

A disorganized workstation might make it challenging to concentrate. Previously, my home office was a mess of stacks of paper, misplaced stationery, and half-empty coffee mugs. My thoughts were as chaotic as my workspace whenever I sat down to work. Once I cleaned up and organized my space, my productivity increased dramatically, and my job no longer seemed like a struggle.

On the other hand, a well-designed and unique home atmosphere can promote unwinding and enjoyment. After a long day, rest in a quiet reading nook with your favorite books, a cozy chair, and dim lighting helpful.

Being intentional is essential. Personalizing our surroundings can help us express ourselves, encourage positive feelings, and support our mental health, just as carefully choosing clothes to match our personalities and mood can. The best aspect is that there are no strict guidelines; instead, you should do what makes you feel comfortable, content, and inspired.

Design Principles for Mental Health

After going over the significance of personal spaces, let's move on to design ideas that can promote mental health. Design decisions can produce a mood that calms our brains and elevates our spirits.

1. Let There Be Light: Sunlight is known to improve mood. Our internal body clock, our attitude, and even the quality of our sleep are all enhanced by natural light. Consider ways to maximize the natural light in your room, such as placing your workstation near a window or decorating with light, reflective hues.

2. The Color of Mood: The colors in our environment significantly impact how we feel and how much energy we have. For instance, while solid colors like red and orange can be invigorating, blues and greens frequently elicit thoughts of serenity and tranquility. Do you recall my yellow kitchen and blue bedroom? That decision was not arbitrary!

3. Embrace Nature: Biophilic design incorporates natural aspects into interior design and can help people unwind and relieve tension. Natural elements like wood and stone, indoor plants, or a straightforward landscape painting may make a huge difference.

4. Making wise furniture decisions: Ergonomics is more than a trendy word. Selecting furniture that encourages excellent posture and comfort may lessen physical stress and increase productivity and happiness. My back pain significantly decreased after switching to an ergonomic office chair, which made those long work hours much more tolerable.

5. De-clutter for Clarity: A clean, well-organized environment can also assist you in de-clutter your mind. The Japanese notion of "ma," which means "space," emphasizes the importance of voids for attaining harmony and peace.

6. A Room with a View: Place your living and working spaces toward beautiful views. It may be a busy street, a peaceful park, or even an immaculate garden. My workplace looks out a window onto a street lined with trees, and the scene never fails to motivate me.

These guidelines are a step toward developing environments that promote your mental health, not merely a design choice. But keep in mind that there isn't a one-size-fits-all strategy. Feel free to try these ideas and see how they affect your productivity and attitude. After all, the objective is to make a room that truly feels "you."

Designing for Different Age Groups and Life Stages

Our needs for mental health and places change as we go through life. You can adjust your surroundings to improve your mental well-being at any stage, whether you're a young adult moving into your first apartment, a working professional balancing career and home life, or an adult shifting into a quieter, slower-paced lifestyle.

Young adults: Making the transition into adulthood may be exciting and intimidating. You can make this move more comfortable and quick in your area. To encourage concentration, consider designing a specific space for studying or working. To promote high-quality sleep, provide a peaceful resting environment without digital distractions. At this age, maintaining social ties, a critical component of mental health, can be facilitated by having a place to host friends.

Employed professionals: Providing a productive and stress-free work environment is essential as working from home becomes more common. As we said, it's important to have ergonomic furniture and sufficient lighting. Also, consider incorporating things that reduce stress at work, such as peaceful artwork or a tiny indoor plant. Lastly, set aside a distinct space for relaxation, apart from your work area, where you can unwind and disconnect.

Adults: Comfort and safety are increasingly important as we age. Choose design features like appropriate lighting, clear walkways, and accessible storage that encourage ease of movement and lessen physical strain. You can foster serenity and delight in daily life by creating a serene environment with many natural features, cozy seats, and sentimental items.

I've seen significant changes in my room over time. My room was a hive of activity when I was a young adult, decorated with varied items and bright colors. I greatly value setting up a peaceful and practical workspace as a working professional. I draw myself to serene, cozy areas that let me unwind and recharge.

Your environment should reflect and adapt to the changes the various life stages bring. To create an atmosphere that supports your mental and emotional well-being throughout life's seasons, remember that it's not only about aesthetics.

The Role of Technology in Mental Health-Focused Design

Technology may have a significant impact on establishing mentally healthy environments. It's not just about the newest gadgets or entertainment systems. When used correctly, technology can improve our surroundings and foster well-being in unexpected ways. As a small-scale tech enthusiast, I can attest to the fact that innovative technology has the power to change a room completely.

1. Smart Lighting: Visualize your lights changing according to your schedule, softly awakening you with a simulated sunrise or lowering to a warm, comforting glow as dusk falls. Innovative lighting solutions can accomplish this precisely: they regulate our internal clocks and enhance our sleep, mood, and general well-being.

2. Noise Control: Noise-cancelling technology can be a game-changer if you live in a bustling city or a home with many sounds. A good set of noise-canceling headphones means the difference between a practical work session and a tiresome battle with interruptions.

3. Indoor Air Quality: Technology can significantly enhance our indoor air quality, from smart air purifiers to intelligent HVAC systems. These gadgets make breathing easier and lessen the risk of allergies and other infections hurting our health and disposition.

4. Health tracking: Now, gadgets can track various health indicators, like stress levels or sleep quality, and give us feedback so we may alter our lifestyles as needed.

5. Virtual Connection: Technology can also help us retain social relationships essential for mental health by bridging the gap created by physical distances.

6. Personalized Comfort: Consider intelligent thermostats that change the temperature based on your preferences or smart blinds that close when the sun is too intense.

While there's no denying that these technological improvements might improve our living environments, it's essential to remember that technology should be our servant, not our lord. The objective is to deliberately employ technology to make our spaces more cozy, healthy, and supportive of our mental health, not to incorporate as much technology as possible.


I believe our spaces are more than bricks, mortar, and decorative accents; they are an extension of ourselves, reflect our journey, and significantly influence our mental health.

Our hands have the power to create spaces that bolster our mental health. And the beauty of it is there's no one-size-fits-all formula. Each space can be as unique as the person it houses.

Whether you're redecorating your living room, setting up a home office, or moving into a new home, I hope this exploration empowers you to create spaces that look and feel good. Remember, your environment is not just a backdrop to your life but a key player in your mental health journey.

Home Listed By:

Khrista Jarvis

DRE 01213582


Coldwell Banker Realty

151 Alamo Springs Court

Alamo, CA

Photography & Cinematography By:

Mike Calpito

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