If you've ever worked in a gray cubicle or under lots of harsh fluorescent lights, you'll probably agree with me that your surroundings can definitely have an effect on your mood. Why do we feel so much better when we go on vacation in the great outdoors? Why do sunny days (especially in winter) seem to lift our spirits? Why do we consider islands in the Caribbean to be paradise? I believe this is because our environment is vitally important to our emotions.
Often the roots of depression are so complex - I won't to pretend that it can be fixed by decorating. But, I have a few friends that have struggled with depression (heck - we've all felt pretty lowsy at different times of our lives!). I can often see clutter, disorganization, and a lack of...well, prettiness...in the space they live in every single day. Often this is an outward symptom of their inner turmoil. But sometimes I think it can also be a contributing factor to the blues.
One friend of mine lives in a place where there are few windows. Only one, in her daughter's room, receives any sunlight. The rest are surrounded by a heavily wooded area, which means very little daylight is able to come in the house. Add to this a situation where they have too much stuff in too small a space, and it's easy for the house to feel out of control. She usually feels like getting out of the house, rather than considering the home her refuge. She struggles with contentment in her home, and I think that some of these issues play a part in her discontent.
I am not a believer in the mystic principles of feng-shui. However, I do agree that there is a real art to cozy furniture placement, artwork and accessories placement that makes sense, and good lighting; and depending on how these things are done, they can either elicit positive or negative emotions within you.
This is why I love doing what I do; often I'm able to lift my client's spirits simply by rearranging their furniture and de-cluttering. They didn't know what was wrong before, just that something was; and by changing things around, their spirits were lifted in a way they didn't think was possible.
- Are there areas of clutter that you've gotten so accustomed to that you don't even notice them anymore?
- Does your room feel particularly dark at certain times of the day (or all times)?
Do you have artwork or photos on your walls that you love...or are they just things that fill the space?
- When you enter the room, is there furniture blocking your path that you need to walk around?
- Are you displaying items out of a sense of obligation (i.e. they were a gift or inheritance) but they are not functional or beautiful to you?
If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, go back and take a second look, and ask yourself just a few more questions:
- Is there any way you can cut down on the pile of clutter? Go through the pile and figure out what you can donate, what you can throw away, and what you need to keep. Then, figure out a cute solution (baskets, boxes, etc.) for the stuff you have to keep, and store it out of sight.
- If your room feels dark, can you switch out your curtains to a lighter version? Do you have a valance that is blocking daylight that you could remove or hang higher (to block less daylight)? Do you have lamps that you could repurpose from other rooms to place in every available corner of the dark room? Could you change your paint color to something a little more cheerful, like a light butter yellow, or an apple green, or a light blue?
- Furniture that blocks your natural traffic flow is a no-no, in my book. Can you think of an alternate arrangement where furniture no longer blocks the entry to your room?
- Can you purchase or re-purpose artwork or photos that you love, and display those instead of the pieces that you feel obligated to display? Pay attention to the emotion that art brings out in you - don't just try to follow decorating rules - buy artwork that you love and elicits positive emotions in you. It might be worth saving up a few extra dollars to invest in a piece of artwork that makes you feel happy or peaceful (or both).
I really do believe these little things can make a big difference in a person's quality of life. Whether you're singin' the blues, or just need a change for the better...ask yourself a few questions and then get busy making things just a little more lovely.
Thanks for humoring me as I stand on my little decorating soap box. :-)
**Images: all before-and-after redesign photos are property of Nesting Instincts