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7 Ways To Reduce Anxiety In The Home Through Design

Your physical environment plays a major role in your mood and mental well-being. Having a space that reduces anxiety is especially important as we continue to work from home as we approach the end of a turbulent 2020. Now, more than ever, architects and designers are called on to design spaces that allow people to thrive. 

Here are seven suggestions from members of the design community for a home that keeps you healthy and makes you happy.

1.  Embrace natural colors and textures

“Softer neutrals with hints of color bring calm into an environment. Woods, stone, natural fibers enliven the senses,” says Suzanne Tick, Creative Director at Luum Textiles. “Tactility plays an important role as well – we all want softness – but a feeling of safety and cleanability, not sterility, is also important. Natural fibers like wool offer softness, while using renewable resources that can be sanitized as needed.” 

Daun St. Amand AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Vice President at CallisonRTKL, adds, “For 2021, color trends will reflect on wellbeing, sustainability and human connection. Natural hues such as green, blue, brown and white offer compassion, comfort and optimism—a welcome addition to interior spaces during times of uncertainty and unrest.” 

Jared Bradley, AIA NCARB, President and Founder of The Bradley Projects, agrees.

“Utilize authentic colors and textures through material choices. Selecting materials and keeping them in their pure state, like concrete being concrete color or wood species remaining in their natural color state, can provide familiarity and comfort with the item as well as prevent confusion visually. 

“We also minimize material and color palettes within spaces in order to not overwhelm the senses and allow all of the other personal, movable elements in a space to be curated and arranged in a manner to further enhance balance and comfort.” 

2.  Explore different types of lighting

“One of the most comforting qualities about a home is the lighting,” says Steve Delfino, Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Product Development at Teknion.

 “The ability to balance natural light, room lighting, and ambient lighting to reflect the mood or activity is essential for comfort.  You can do this by layering on or shading natural light, accenting a space with room lighting, or adding ambient lighting and task lighting where needed. Our homes continue to become predominantly work settings and we need to quickly adjust between focused work, collaborative zoom calls, and periods of relaxation, reprieve and rejuvenation. Lighting provides energy, and as a building block of life, it signals mood and expectations when we enter a room.”

Jared Bradley adds, “Introduce natural light not only wherever possible, but in spatially interesting ways. We believe that allowing natural light to be controlled and brought deep into spaces allows a sense of freedom and creates a lightness to the structure. Natural light changes dramatically all day in color, temperature and intensities. By minimizing visual clutter and allowing the architectural expression to be clear, we can then control how we bring in natural light to create a more organic condition of light quality that humans respond to in ways we were intended to.” 

3.  Integrate nature into your home

“Create moments of transparency from the inside to outside, drawing nature in,” Bradley says. “Allowing continuous views through a space to the outdoors provides continuity and a connectivity to the earth and serves as a peaceful reminder that beauty surrounds us.”

“Air quality and sources of natural light will also likely be a top priority, as we continue to see the positive impacts of biophilia on human wellbeing,” says Jairo Vives, Lead Architect at Pininfarina of America. “It is moments like the global pandemic that force us to solve challenges and find solutions, quickly.”

4.  Safety and security through updated details 

Daun St. Amand says, “What tenants want is starting to change: as opposed to that pool and sauna, tenants now want an extra level of isolation, such as a private elevator and higher security measures, as an extra layer of safety to reduce anxiety at home. Now, luxury is going to be defined as safety and security, and designers are working to implement those into luxury residences. Top requests now include germ resistant countertops and flooring, greater technology and energy efficiency, more storage for food and water, touch-free appliances and water, smart toilets, and better equipped kitchen for necessary, higher-volume cooking.” 

5.  Make your space as flexible as possible 

“A certain percentage of the population will continue to work from home in the wake up the pandemic, creating a need for more spacious and comfortable apartments that accommodate home office needs,” St. Amand says. “Designers will have to develop innovative ways to maximize space in smaller units—for example, bringing in light, air, and views—as well as implementing new storage solutions to make sure this new work environment can continue to thrive.” 

6.  Mitigate Clutter

Gala Magriñá, founder and principal at Gala Magriñá Design, says, 

I always recommend starting with reducing clutter! Clutter represents holding on to emotional baggage, which can weigh you down and prevent you from moving forward. A cluttered home doesn’t reflect who you want to be or the future you want. Quick, regular purges create both physical and psychic space to welcome something new into your space and your life.”

7.   Remember the power of Feng Shui

“Putting furniture in the “power position” is an easy way to bring feng shui into your space,” Magriñá says. “Most importantly, you want your bed or desk to be facing the front door so you are not vulnerable to someone coming up behind you. Additionally, people must be aware of the “mouth of chi,” or entryway, where energy enters the home. Make sure this entryway is clear, so that energy isn’t blocked from coming in.”

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