With many of us holed up at home (or in our parents’ homes) for the past god knows how long, we’ve become uncomfortably familiar with the four walls of our living spaces. Some have neglected their interiors, because why bother? but for others, lockdown(s) have given us a reason to appreciate our homes and an excuse to spend lavishly on nice bed linens and new glassware.
Because knick-knacks are expensive, and I’m currently living at home in a rented house, I usually gloss over interior design conversations and scroll past the latest ‘must-buy’ trend (though I'm still guilty of hitting ‘save’ on lush, decked-out interior Instagram photos). But in my daily TikTok scroll, I stumbled across a video by Sydney-based interior designer and stylist Brie Turton who linked interior design choices with the ability to boost mental health.
This isn’t a new concept — Eastern concepts of Vastu Shastra and Feng Shui have been teaching us about the power of interior spaces for centuries. And of course, this is not medical advice either; a warm-toned lamp isn’t going to solve all your problems (sorry). Here are the tips I’ve learnt from TikTok that can help improve our mental health while we’re stuck at home.
1. Curved Lines, Spheres & Soft Edges
Encourage softness and ease of flow in your home by choosing curves over hard lines. “In 2020, global trend forecaster WGSM reported that curved lines, spheres and soft edges were synonymous with feeling a sense of calm and sanctuary,” Brie says in her TikTok video. “For maximum impact, ensure that your tables — dining, side, and coffee — all have curved edges.”
2. Lighting & Sensory Cues
With days and nights bleeding into one another, and work and home boundaries becoming increasingly blurry, we can control the lighting in our homes to help keep these blocks apart.
“We subconsciously react to sensory cues,” says Brie. “We can train our brain to react to lighting changes within our homes. I recommend using direct, full lighting throughout the working day, and when it comes to 5pm, turning off the direct light and turning on ambient light. This way, the ambient light becomes the cue for our brain to switch off and relax.”
Think soft lighting fixtures for nighttime instead of harsh, overhead light. Besides, soft lighting is more flattering too.
3. Flowers & Liveliness
Finally, another reason to buy flowers for yourself. A burst of colour and freshness doesn’t just have to be delivered by blooms, though.
“Flowers seem obvious but they’re very important because they bring a sign of life. Bringing life into a space instantly shifts energy. The same can be said with abundant fruit bowls and of course, plants,” says Brie.
4. Smell & Nostalgia
The cliché of freshly-baked cookies is a cliché for a reason. Our olfactory sense is powerful and can be harnessed to shift emotion and ignite memories.
“Smell is our strongest scent which means it’s linked directly to nostalgia,” says Brie. “Find scents that bring you joy from previous times such as festive holidays with family, or important [life moments].”
5. Colours & Emotions
Boston-based interior stylist Julie Sousa recommends basing interior colour palettes on the functionality of a space.
“Warm colours such as red, orange, and yellow evoke excitement. Using them in areas that are meant for relaxation can actually induce anxiety,” she says, recommending warmer colours for places you want to be energised in. “Meanwhile, cooler colours such as blue and green and purple promote relaxation,” Julie says, pointing towards bedrooms, bathrooms, and reading rooms.