Design and Jump for Joy

Design and Jump for Joy

When decorating, people tend to envision how the room will look without imagining how it will feel. In one home, a couple creates an ultra-modern living room because it looks cool, only to discover that it seems cold and uninviting. Meanwhile, their neighbor repaints her home office the same shade of pink as her business logo and from that point on feels uninspired.

As it turns out, a certain shade of pink has been used in jail cells for years for its tranquilizing effect. But color psychology is just one thing that people fail to consider when designing solely for looks with little regard to mood.

"The main thing is functionality. I always consider who's going to use the space and how," says Denise Angelini, president of Pacific Interior Design Group in Ventura, California. If this doesn't drive the design process, "you won't have joy; you won't have ease."

Another consideration is personal taste. It sounds obvious but falls by the wayside when people decorate homes with resale in mind. "The idea that one day a person may inevitably sell their home should not impact the pleasures of living in the present," says Sarah Barnard, owner of Sarah Barnard Design in Santa Monica, California.

To create a home that looks and feels right, walk from room to room with a notebook or simply list the rooms and describe how you want each to feel, recommends Laura Gaskill, whose home design blog, Lolalina, celebrates all things "warm and cozy."

Like most people, you may want the master bath to exude serenity. But your mood map may depart from the norm in some spaces. For instance, if you and your spouse cook and dine together every night, you may want the kitchen to encourage romance.

Colors will go a long way toward achieving a desired mood; however, the paint aisle might not be the best source of inspiration. "Your wardrobe is a less intimidating place to identify colors you like to live with," Angelini says.

Using the color palette of a favorite vacation spot may usher the spirit of that place into your home. "In my own home, I try to capture the breezy, relaxed feeling of a beach vacation by keeping the color palette to soothing shades of blue and white, keeping clutter to a minimum, and displaying my most treasured seashells and stones along the windowsills," says Gaskill, a Houzz contributor.

The colors and textures of the great outdoors can also be a source of inspiration. Nature can be peaceful but it can also be playful or invigorating. Soft tones of green and blue lend themselves to an "oasis-inspired space" while the same colors in brighter tones can create a "rejuvenating vibe," says Kris Jarrett, author of the blog Driven by Décor. "A crisp shade of aqua, reminiscent of the color and fresh scent of ocean air, is invigorating and can be balanced by accessories in warmer colors or wood tones."

Lighting plays a huge part in mood setting, and "simply having everything on dimmers can create different moods for different occasions," Angelini says.

To maximize the amount of mood-brightening sunlight spilling into your home, "Extend curtain rods at least 10 inches past the edge of each window frame so your drapes don't cover a large portion of the window," Jarrett advises.

If a room doesn't evoke the desired mood, you can redecorate in stages so as not to break the bank. "Start by identifying and removing or covering up items that detract from the mood. This costs nothing and can be quite effective," Gaskill says. "If you're having trouble identifying what needs to be removed, try taking a few photos of your room. This gives you some perspective that's hard to get when you're standing in the room."

Accessories and finishing touches can make all the difference. "I absolutely love a good tablescape" to make the dining room feel festive, says Jeremiah Brent of Jeremiah Brent Design in New York and Los Angeles. "Our table is always set and ready for guests."

Brent, an Air Wick spokesman, also loves fresh flowers and says scent is "the final layer" when designing for mood.

Indeed, science has shown that certain scents, like colors, can affect state of mind. Working with fragrance researchers, Air Wick created the Scent Decorator online tool to match moods with corresponding fragrances, home décor tips and DIY projects. A citrus scent and white cabinets are recommended for a "sparkling" kitchen.

For a spark in the bedroom, banish the TV and charge phones elsewhere. "Technology has really invaded the bedroom," Angelini says, "and it doesn't help with relaxation or romance."


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