I have recently given a talk on how to improve well-being through space design. The talk was organised by the Cam Creative group that brings together creative people in Cambridge. I promised I would turn my presentation into a talk for those of you who were not able to attend.
So, let’s start…
What does well-being at home actually mean?
Our home, both the location and physical building itself influences almost every aspect of our lives- from how we cook, how we eat, how we sleep, how often we see friends, how safe and secure we feel.
What do we actually know about well-being and buildings?
While researching material for my talk, I came across very interesting research conducted by Elizabeth Burton, a professor of Sustainable Building Design and Wellbeing at the University of Warwick. Her study pointed that living in housing with small front gardens promotes greater community spirit, simply encourages chatting to neighbors; what’s more, transition zones between our homes and streets promote interaction with our neighbors & ‘me-time’ (‘me-time’, where we can simply sit and watch the world go by).
What do we know about well-being and inside our homes?
In the last couple of years, open plan designs have been very trendy, however, we’ve recently noticed a shift to zoning, thankfully! At least for families, open plan living is not recommended; we simply need individual spaces for different activities to take place without causing friction;
Living room and Bedrooms as more private rooms so ideally, they should be located at the back of the house, as far as possible from the street to create that privacy.
Dining room should be joined with a kitchen rather with a living room as this makes it more likely that people living in the house will eat together around a table which tends to be more positive for family life and relationships.
We should always think about maximising daylight, and add self-controlled lighting; as research shows, this can give us around 46 more minutes of sleep. TIP: A kitchen extension, for example, is a great way to allow light to the depth of the house.
It is essential to have a proper heating in our spaces to keep warm in the colder months; cold housing could affect not just our physical health but also our mental wellbeing- being cold makes us tense and irritable. We also tend to use more of a house when it is warm; research shows that if only one or two rooms are warm, the house becomes, In effect, overcrowded as people tend to flock to those rooms.
Noise reduction seems to be not such an obvious thing, but research indicated that it is essential for our wellbeing to do that, using materials that reduce noise and provide quiet spaces. Why? Because we tend to feel better and perform daily tasks better as a result of reduced noise.
Active design, which simply means that interior layout that is diverse- this promotes active & easy movement between the spaces and or the zones.
Biophilia & views means we have included a variety of plant species, if possible inside and out, as well as views of nature- this goes back to having both back and front gardens.
Last but not least is look and feel-healthy homes have colours, textures, and materials that are welcoming, calming and evoke nature; I want to emphasise here that the colours, textures and materials we chose in the design process should always be chosen carefully by the clients, especially in residential projects; this simply goes back to individual preferences and what makes an individual happy.
Now, let’s look into individual rooms.
Your Living Room should have/be:
Plenty of natural light;
Relatively neutral colour on the walls;
As calming as possible to promote healthy rest;
Soft furniture and entertainment appliances.
Your Bedroom should have/be:
Encouraging comfort and positivity;
Free of too much blue-tones light;
Free of clutter;
Walls in soothing, mild tone of the colour of your choice.
Few more words on sleep and colour…
Blue is the perfect colour for bedrooms; according to Edinburgh Sleep Centre, people who sleep in blue bedrooms, increase their sleep time to 7h52 minutes ;
Blue evokes calmness, and lowers your heart rate and reduces blood pressure;
Yellow stimulates the nervous system, encourages relaxation and coziness, so it’s also a very good choice for a bedroom.
Green promotes positivity; 22% of people who sleep in green bedrooms wake up feeling upbeat;
Silver has soothing quality…Surprisingly, 1/5 of those who sleep in silver bedrooms report to be more motivated to exercise.
Your kitchen should be/ have:
As bright as possible to encourage energy and activity;
Using at least splashes of vibrant colour (for example yellow)
Surfaces free of clutter & mess- > storage solutions
Eden Court Breakfast Bar
Station Road project-Kitchen-Thro-Garden
Whatever you decide to do, it’s always a good idea to consult an expert, especially if you are struggling with some aspects of your space.
All photos used above are photographs or visualisations of projects designed by Katie Malik Interiors.Please visit our website for more inspirations.
And below are some pictures from my talk, taken by my favourite interior photographer: Maciek Platek.