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The Psychology of space - How to create inviting rooms.

Posted on 22 April 2017

Why do we want to spend time in some people’s homes and not others? What is it that makes us feel safe and secure somewhere, while in other places we feel we just want to get the heck out of there? Bad feelings with the occupants aside, what is it that makes us want to stay, relax and congregate?

I love how a well-designed space can influence how people think, feel, interact, react and behave. I call this the “psychology of space” and with some insight, you too can use your knowledge of how people behave to create a welcoming home environment.

open-plan-livingOpen plan homes give us the opportunity to create spaces within spaces. Source

Let’s go back to basics – when do we feel most comfortable? - When we are safe, undistracted by millions of things on our ‘to do list’ and when we are in a familiar environment where we can just ‘be ourselves’ and feel we are best able to put our feet up and relax.

So let’s unpack how to recreate these 3 elements: 

Safety

The Feng Shui principle of never sitting with our back to a door, picks up on one of the primary triggers for feeling unsafe in a room. You’ll notice in spaces where there are seats facing the entry door, that those seats will be filled first over ones that don’t have direct sight to a door. When we can’t see who’s coming up behind us, we unconsciously remain on high alert, so do your best to have all seating arranged so people don’t ever feel exposed.

iniqwa-furniture-crabo-coffee-table

Crabo Coffee Table by Uniqwa Furniture

Think about how safe we felt as a kid snuggled up in our parents arms. Create warm cosy environments that you can just sink into, and peek out to watch the world.

If your space is open plan, create areas within the larger space; this creates more interest and smaller spaces also have the ability to make us feel that we have control over our own little kingdom.   Perhaps, cluster a group of chairs and couches centred around a floor rug. Add a coffee table or two and make that comfy big hug of a couch inviting so you can get lost in the textures of cushions and throw rugs.

domu-cushions

Check out the cushions available from domu here

Remove Distractions

Have you ever had trouble falling off to sleep because you were worried about the number of things on your ‘to do’ list? You’re not alone. One of the key considerations when creating an environment where we can relax, is to take away distractions.

Don’t hate me here, but how about having one space without a TV? Instead, try popping on your favourite music, turn off the main lights and create your own little relax zone with scented candles and lamplight only.

Most people get lost in the flickering flames of an open fire, so if you can this winter, get back to basics with a glowing fireplace. There’s no better way to forget about all those things that you should be doing.

oblica-gyro-focus

How dreamy is this fireplace from Oblica?

It’s also important to remove both visual and auditory ‘noise’ by not having too many different things going on in the environment. Look to relax – remove the bold stripes and strong black and white contrasts, and instead use soothing colours to set the mood. Not sure what colours you like? Check out the earlier Domu article that explores the psychology of colour.

Familiarity

Most of us are completely uncomfortable with change. One of the best ways to create familiarity is to have beautiful objects, family photos and paintings that display your personality, decorating your space. When people are stuck for something to say in conversation, they can always be inspired by these things that reflect who you are. 

midori-anne-maree-wise

Midori - Original artwork by Anne-Maree Wise

I believe that we say that the Kitchen is the “heart of the home” because it has all those elements that make us feel comfy – warmth from the oven, a place where people can connect as they grab a drink from the fridge, and a place to congregate and share whilst we prepare food.

Looking to replicate that kitchen feeling? Keep your place warm, create intimate nooks for conversation, and get creative.

tina-murray

'Tina Murray is a Melbourne based interior designer, author and speaker who believes good design (and life) comes from the heart. www.tinamurray.com

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