How Interior Design Can Effect Mental Health

Written by Nicole Nicholas


Posted on December 27 2022

While it's common to think of interior design as a technique to create aesthetically pleasing spaces, many people don't realize that it can also have a significant impact on mental health (as I'm sure many of us found during our time indoors during the Covid 19 pandemic).

According to previous studies, the furniture, fabrics, and colours used in interior design can play a big role in how a room makes a person feel. Knowing this, we're now able to design environments that encourage positive feelings that will make people feel more at ease and at home in their surroundings, rather than leaving it all to chance.

In this article, we'll explore how interior design can impact mental health and discuss various ways we can use it to create healthier environments.

Here's what we'll cover:

1. What is interior design?

2. What is mental health?

3. How can interior design positively/negatively affect mental health?

4. What steps can you take to increase your positive impacts and decrease your negative ones?


What Is Interior Design?

Interior design is the art and science of designing visually appealing, useful, and safe interior spaces. Interior designers use colours, textures, furniture, lighting, and various other elements to design spaces that reflect the specific mood or ambiance they're desiring. The goal is to create an environment that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional, taking into account how people will use the space, as well as how it will look.

Common considerations when selecting the elements of design are cost, sustainability, comfort, accessibility, and safety.

From personal residences to commercial businesses, any form of space can be created using the principles of interior design. 


What Is Mental Health?"Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations" board

The phrase "mental health" refers to a person's whole psychological and emotional well-being. It includes things like mood, stress levels, self-esteem, and one's capacity for overcoming obstacles in life.

There are a lot of variables that can impact this, including heredity, environment, way of life, and physical health. A person's complete well-being depends on their mental health. It can also assist them in leading successful lives.

Feeling overburdened or stressed, having trouble sleeping or focusing, changes in eating or weight, low energy levels, lack of vitality, and sentiments of worthlessness or hopelessness are typical indicators of poor mental health.


Interior Design Can Have An Effect

Previous studies have shown that many design features, such as colours, textures, adequate lighting, furniture and its arrangement, etc., can all have an impact on how a person feels when they enter a physical environment. These feelings can bring on positive or negative physiological responses within the person, which can range from intense to subtle, depending on who they are. 

Understanding the many ways design elements can influence the psychological effects someone may have, can help you ensure you're creating a space that has a positive impact on the people who enter it, rather than an unintended negative one.


Steps You Can Take To Increase The Positive Effects

In order to create a healthy space, there are certain design tips you can follow. These tips will help you to create well-designed spaces that promote positive emotions in people, rather than negative ones. 

A nice well balanced room with a round foot stool Avoid Sharp Edges - A big part of interior design is about creating a sense of comfort and safety. Jagged edges, angular edges or sharp edges can create a feeling of uneasiness. To avoid this, opt for rounded edges on furniture and other elements within the space.

Use The Psychology Of Colours - Colours can have a huge impact on how a person feels when they enter a room. There's a whole field of study around this concept called "Color Psychology".

When designing a room and looking to create a calming, relaxing state, opt for cool colors like blues, greens, and purples. Neutral colors like whites, greys, and beiges can also be used to create a sense of balance and calmness.

To encourage energizing and stimulating states, opt for bright colors, and warm colors, like reds, oranges, and yellows.

Make Good Use Of Lighting - Light levels play a major role in the overall look and feel of a room. Spaces with a lot of light can be energizing and stimulating, while dimmer spaces can be calming and relaxing.

Aim For Natural Light - When it comes to lighting, using natural light is the best option. Natural light can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels, while also providing a sense of connection with the outside world. Artificial light can also be used to create a certain atmosphere, but natural light should always be the first choice to aid in mood.

Create Open Spaces - A well-designed space should be as open as possible with free-flowing air. Using furniture and other elements to create openness in a space will help to reduce feelings of claustrophobia, while also creating a sense of freedom. This can be achieved by using minimal furniture, avoiding clutter, and making sure there is enough room for people to move around freely.

Incorporate Natural Elements - Natural environments have been proven to have a calming effect on people. Incorporating natural elements into your design can help to create a sense of connection with nature, which can be beneficial for mental health. Using rocks, sand, wood, house plants, and even running water can help in creating a calming atmosphere.

Mind Your Furniture Arrangement - The arrangement of the furniture in a room can have a huge impact on how people inside of that room feel. For example, if you're designing a living room, you will want to ensure that all the seating faces each other so that people can easily interact with one another. Social interactions can have a positive emotional impact. Additionally, try to avoid overcrowding the space by leaving enough room for people to move around freely.

Use Comfortable Furniture - Comfortable furniture is essential for creating a space that is conducive to positivity. Uncomfortable furniture can cause physical ailments, such as back and neck pain, which can lead to stress and anxiety. It's important to remove any uncomfortable furniture from the space and replace it with pieces that are ergonomically designed for comfort. Additionally, make sure that furniture is adjustable, when possible so that people can customize their seating position for maximum comfort.

Declutter - Decluttering can have a positive effect on mental health by reducing stress and anxiety levels. Clutter can be overwhelming and can make it difficult to focus on tasks, which can lead to feelings of frustration and overwhelm. By decluttering a space, it becomes easier to focus on the task at hand and reduces the amount of visual distractions in the environment. Additionally, decluttering helps to create a sense of order and control, which can help to reduce stress levels.



When it comes down to it, redecorating your home isn't just about making it look nice; it's also about being aware of how it makes you feel when you're inside it. Interior design can have a huge impact on mental health, and the above suggestions are just some of the simple ways that you can create a space that is more conducive to positivity and flow. 

I hope this article was helpful in your redecorating journey!


References/Further Reading

Impact of Windows and Daylight Exposure on Overall Health

Viewing Artworks Generate The Same Reactions In The Brain As Being In Love

Psychology of Colors