During a time when much of the country and world, is cautiously isolating at home, it's a good opportunity for us all to recognise and appreciate the importance of our homes. The spaces we occupy and their design have a profound impact on our mental states, behaviours, and routines.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a safe and secure place to call home, and those of us that do should be especially thankful during trying times such as these.
While the bulk of society currently finds themselves in an unprecedented staycation, we’d like to encourage you to use this time to improve your wellbeing and daily lifestyle by considering minor adjustments and exploring ways to improve your home.
Rather than consuming yourself with boredom, negative thoughts, or stress, we suggest using the time that now seems so ample to observe, reflect, and analyse how you interact with your home.
How does your personal space serve you?
How does it improve your mood, physical comfort, and mental wellbeing?
What spaces, products, and decor aren’t enhancing your experience or routine?
In order to consider making adjustments, the NUA x DESIGN team would like to share a handful of concepts with you so you can evaluate how your home might enhance your daily life, and work as a tool to serve your routine and lifestyle.
This week we’ll introduce 5 concepts to explore how your home might better serve you, and then we’ll spend the coming weeks doing a deep dive into each one. We'll share tips and tricks to consider for your own home and personal space.
Whether you rent or own your home, live alone or with housemates, children, or a partner, there are minor adjustments and improvements you can make to your interior spaces to bring more peace, productivity, and functionality to your daily life.
So, let’s dive into...
First, we’d like to introduce you to the concept of zoning, or spatial planning. Each individual, household or family aims to perform specific tasks within their home. Your activities, work, hobbies, and life admin will vary not only from household to household, but also among your other cohabitants. Now, more than ever, our daily routine (or lack there of) is enhanced or contained based on the general layout and designation of space within your dwelling.
To allow your home to best serve you in regards to zoning, you must allocate space, as well as the necessary furniture for activities you plan to do. Whether these tasks are for work or for pleasure, having appropriate space and furniture to carry them out can make a big difference in your ability to focus, be productive and enjoy your activities.
To create dedicated space for key activities your perform regularly in your home, ask yourself the following questions:
What are the functions of this space?
Does each function have a dedicated area and the appropriate furniture to be carried out?
Am I able to focus while performing tasks in this space?
Would adjustments to layout or addition of furniture and accessories improve my ability to function in this space?
Are other people or objects hindering my ability to complete tasks in this space?
Next, we want to discuss the importance of lighting in your home. We could write a whole series on lighting and the potential it has to change the feeling of a space as well as it’s impact on you. But we’ll hold back for now and just introduce the basics.
Levels and types of light affect your hormones, which in turn increase or decrease energy levels and influence your sleep cycle. We’ve all heard about the blue light emitted from screens and it’s important to be aware that light sources in the home can emit different wavelengths, or colours of light as well. As LED technology continues to advance, you can now purchase bulbs which can transition from warm to cool light. (Pretty amazing, huh?) This allows you to manipulate the light in your home to better suit the time of day and activities you are performing. When purchasing light fixtures and bulbs, always check to see what type of light you are buying so you know how it might affect you and your hormones.
The secret to success with lighting in the home is layering. In order to maximise the use of your interior space at all hours of the day, you need to have multiple light sources to adjust the setting of each room. You can do this by combining the 2 different types of light, diffused and direct. Diffused light will shine throughout an expansive space or entire room, whereas direct light will be focused and serve to illuminate a specific item or small amount of space. Overhead light fixtures tend to product the most diffused light in interiors, whereas spotlights, lamps, pendants, and wall lights tend to provide direct light. By combining a few of these fixtures in each of the main spaces in your home, you will create the ability to have bright functional light, focused task lighting, as well as soft relaxing light that illuminates just enough to see and move about the space.
To consider the effectiveness of your lighting scheme document the following:
How many light sources do you have in each room?
What type of light is each source?
Are you missing a level of light that would improve the functionality of any spaces in your home?
Do you like the appearance of each light fixture in your home?
3. COLOUR PSYCHOLOGY
Colour goes hand in hand with lighting in your home and can be just as complex to discuss. The main colour (or colours) of a room influence how expansive it feels, the amount of energy you have within it, and can even start to impact your psychology.
Colour theory has been discussed for centuries and it is believed that Aristotle was the first to introduce the theory of colour to humanity. Moving beyond theory, we find ourselves discussing the psychology of colour. According to colour psychology expert, Karen Haller, colour is not purely a visual experience and produces both physiological and psychological experiences due to the release of chemicals in the brain when our eye sees colour and therefore absorbs different wavelengths of light.
More often than not, we consider our personal preferences and style when selecting wall colours or the palette for a space. However, it is very important to evaluate how the space will be used when selecting a colour palette, as well as the placement of each colour. For example, if you’re designing a bedroom, the main function of the space is very likely for rest and relaxation. So, you may want to select colours that will be soothing, peaceful, and will not produce too much visual stimulation.
We will explore colour psychology in depth in our coming posts, but for now we’d like you to evaluate each space in your home by asking yourself the following questions:
What is the main function(s) of the space/room?
Am I able to focus and successfully carry out the functions(s) with the current decor?
How do I want to feel when in this space?
Does the current design match my style and/or excite me?
Once you’ve answered these questions, then we can explore your style and define a colour palette to meet both your functional needs as well as your personal design preferences.
The organisation of your home creates or hinders seamless functionality throughout your daily routine. By knowing exactly where items are and storing them in convenient locations, both your productivity and stress levels will improve.
If you’re lucky enough to own your own home, investing in customised storage, built-in shelving, and wardrobes can drastically improve the functionality and visual appeal of each room. Storage and organisation are incredibly personal and should consider the objects you own, their frequency of use, and which items you desire to remain hidden away versus showcased and on display. There are incredible custom furniture solutions for storage that are excellent options for renters. We’ll introduce a few of our favourite brands in our in- depth organisation & storage blog post.
In the meantime, we invite you to evaluate your own home’s storage, organisation, and visual clutter by answering the following questions:
Do all of my belongings have a space to be stored appropriately?
Do all of my belongings reside in the space where I use them most often?
Is this room/space visually cluttered with too much stuff?
Are my prized possessions either stored securely or displayed front and centre in my home?
Do I actually need or use everything I own? Or as Marie Kondo would ask, does it bring me joy?
5. SCENTS AND AMBIANCE
A thorough examination of the design and effectiveness of one’s home would not be complete without exploring all of the senses (well almost all of them, as we won’t be tasting anything today). We've already touched on the visual and tactile senses. Now let’s add sound and smell to the mix.
Smell has the ability to trigger memories and stir up nostalgia within us. It can remind us of a time, a place, a meal, a person. Scent is powerful and can also help energise, relax, or soothe. It can also be an indicator that something is wrong within your home - the smell of gas, or damp.
All in all, scent adds to the ambiance of a space and we encourage you to be intentional and use scent to improve your experience at home. Try to use it to your advantage. Citrus can energise, lavender calms and relaxes, and each person has unique scents that bring joy to
Ways to add scent to your home: Candles, Wax melts, Incense, Reed Diffusers, Home Fragrance Sprays, Essential Oils, Electric Diffusers, Fresh Flowers, and lastly Cooking/baking.
Sound is also an important and our final element to explore. It has similar effects to those of smell. However, the noises we experience at home can also be quite distracting and very much out of our control. For the noise you can control, utilise the positive aspects of sound by including a record player, a nice speaker system, or possibly noise cancelling headphones in your home design.
In regards to the sound that is out of your control, such as busy street activity outside your flat, noisy neighbours, traffic, or simply thin walls within your home; there is little to be done to avoid those noises altogether. However, there are decorating tips you can use to reduce the noise. For instance, the more soft furnishings you have in a space, the more noise can be absorbed. So heavy drapery across windows can assist in muffling noise from the exterior world. Additionally, some decorative artwork and furniture pieces can help reduce and prevent the transfer of sound across spaces within the home.
To evaluate your home’s current ambiance, consider the following:
What are my favourite scents?
What spaces need to be productive and help energise me?
What spaces are for lounging and need to help me relax?
What are the noisiest places in my home?
Is the noise I experience at home affecting my productivity, ability to relax, or sleep?
At NUA x DESIGN, we encourage everyone to personalise and perfect their homes. Right now we imagine most of you are more aware of the quirks, attributes, and flaws of those homes than ever. Why not take some time to critically reflect on simple ways you can improve your dwelling, so your home can better serve you?