Home decorating tips to improve your wellbeing that won’t cost you much

Changing your home decor can create a space where you feel calm, restored or inspired can certainly have a positive impact.

Our surroundings impact our physical and mental health and how we choose to decorate our homes can change how we feel about the place and ourselves.

And the best thing is that decorating your space doesn’t have to be expensive or involve physical or structural additions that risks costing you your rental bond.

Here are some tips from two design psychology experts on how to go about making yourself the perfect place for you.

Don’t fall for the latest trends

A magazine-perfect lounge might look nice, but if there’s nothing of meaning for you, it won’t make you happy.(Unsplash: Sidekix Media)

Kylie Sandland is a psychologist and designer who runs a design psychology business in Sydney.

She says many people “fall into the trap” of trying to recreate pictures of rooms they’ve seen in magazines or online, which might lead to a pretty room, but can feel soulless.

“Even the most aesthetically amazing house may not actually feel good [to you],” she says.

Jan Golembiewski, a Sydney architect, agrees that following trends for the sake of being on trend, is not going to make you happy.

Dr Golembiewski suggests you think of decorating your home like “setting a stage” and to ask yourself: “what is the script that we’re setting the stage for?”

“What am I trying to say here about me and about my life?”

Decluttering is important, but minimalism isn’t for everyone

Ms Sandland says the first thing she recommends people do when they wanting to make a change in their home is to deal with the clutter that can pile up. 

There is evidence that suggests having lots of stuff lying around can increase anxiety, negatively affect sleep and our ability to focus.

But decluttering doesn’t have to mean getting rid of all your stuff and going for minimalism.

“A lot of people will design environments for themselves which are minimalist, because they don’t want to be distracted or have some ideas about Zen or something like that,” Dr Golembiewski says.

“And it’s a real trap. Because if you’re in an environment that is essentially empty, with clean, pure surfaces, every little imperfection will shine.”

Biophilia — it’s more than just house plants

Having pot plants can be a great de-stresser for those who love to look after them, but they’re not for everyone.(Pexels: Ron Lach)

Biophilia is a theory that humans have an innate affinity to nature and the natural world. Biophilic design is about bringing elements of nature into the built environment.

“There is evidence to say that using nature in some way in our buildings can lower blood pressure, it can lower heart rate, it can lower cortisol levels, it can improve our perceived mood, and it can sharpen our cognitive performance,” Ms Sandland says.

Pot plants are often the go-to when you want to add some nature to your indoors, but there are lots of other ways you can bring natural elements into the house.

“You’re on a walk on an urban street and find a cool branch, you can put that into a vase, and it has the same impact [as a pot plant],” says Ms Sandland.

Fake plants can give you the same visual as a living one without the risk that you’ll find it withered and dead one day, says Ms Sandland. Pictures of natural landscapes have also been found to have a similar restorative effect as seeing the real thing.

Ms Sandland says she likes to look for organic shapes to add to a room, but choosing furniture that’s more rounded than straight and sharp, adding a curved vase or having soft, round cushions in greens, blues or sand colours.

Forget about colour theory

Warm-tone lighting helps to calm the brain, so use warm-toned lighting in places where you want to rest.(Supplied: Carol Rääbus)

Another term you might come across when looking for design inspo is ‘colour theory’, although there’s little science to back up the popular idea that colours can make us feel certain things.

It’s said brighter colours make you feel more energised and muted colours more calming.

Your association with a colours though is “very personal” says Ms Sandland.