INTERIOR DESIGN AND PSYCHOLOGY: A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN

A guest blog from holistic interior designer Jasbir Kauldhar

Interior design and psychology – a marriage made in heaven? I hear you exclaim…..how does that work?! Let me tell you.

We buy a house, we have all these amazing ideas about how we’re going to put our stamp on it. We move in with much gusto, super excited about all those prospects we stamped on the poor little’ house’s facade when we first went to see it, and prompting us to buy it. In the first weeks to a month, we are raring to go, armed with paint brushes, dressed in our dodgy dungarees that have seen far too much daylight, and we begin to paint. With shear determination, we attack all those tired, neglected, unloved walls with fresh licks of paint and we feel an immense sense of satisfaction. We pat ourselves on the back for the wonderful job we’ve done, and our tired little bums (or ginormous in my case!!) hit those sofas like a tonne of bricks, tired, exhausted but immensely satisfied. We lean back, toss our heads up and breathe a sigh of relief as our beady little eyes marvel at the fruits of our labour and the fresh smell of paint does a merry dance with our senses!

There, right there, is where the psychology is at! Peel back the layers and you will immediately see that the simple act of painting the walls in our homes, has a huge uplifting affect on our mood, and no that’s not a direct result of the paint fumes wafting in the air!! Of course, if you’re anything like me, there will be much eye-watering profanity and frustration along the journey, as you painstakingly navigate the paintbrush around those imperfect little corners that you loved oh so much before buying the house, because you thought it added character, but are now hurling the most colourful of colourful languages at, because your perfect Polly mind wants to paint the corners just right, in the vain hope of avoiding it all looking like a 3-year old child’s rendition of Picasso’s sunflowers……..more like a portrait of Medusa, I’d say! Along the journey however is the steely determination that catapults us along, through these frustrating moments, to reach completion.

Interiors can affect your frame of mind...

Paint is just one example. There are many more; changes in floor finishes, new furniture perhaps, or just new artwork on the walls. They all have the same desired affect on our psychological frame of mind. We feel a sense of satisfaction. We add our own stamp to the property to make it our home. We feel proud of what we have achieved, and we want to show off our new pride and joy to our friends and family.

But what happens when it’s more than just the painting, finishing and furniture that needs attending to? What if that potential you stamped on the property’s facade before you bought it, included demolishing walls, extending outwards and/or upwards in the future? What if that potential included a home nursery and play room for the baby you so desire? Or the home office and studio that is so crucial to your entrepreneurial business? Or the big open-plan kitchen-living-dining space that you want to create in order to entertain all your friends and family members? If you’re reading this, I can guarantee that you will have experienced an uncomfortable sensation in your stomachs, even for a split second, a sinking feeling, as you contemplate the shear volume of work involved in any one of those tasks, let alone several, or all of them. Yes, the hope, the desire, the potential, even the excitement is still there, and that’s why you brought the house. But now? Now kicks in the reality of actioning the works. Perhaps it’s a staggered series of events that will get you there. Perhaps there’s a phase 1, a phase 2, and a phase 3 before you get to that ultimate goal of creating your dream home. Whatever the plan is, it’s one that isn’t going to happen overnight. It will take time, a lot of time, and just the shear knowledge of this brings with it, a deep sense of burden.

Where does this burden come from? It comes from having the deep burning desire to create that dream home you’ve always wanted, verses life. Life, which has a God-awful tendency to show up at a party when you least expect it, knowing all too well it’s there for one reason, and one reason only, to ruin your fun! Perhaps the baby has come along sooner than you had expected, or the business is booming and your make-shift coffee/dining-table-come-office desk just isn’t cutting the mustard anymore. Or maybe it’s that kitchen, that tiny little kitchen which you thought you could live with, but is now doing your head in because you just don’t have the space to swing a cat, let alone rustle up a ten-course meal in………do people even eat ten courses.?!…..never-mind, you get my drift! No matter what unexpected circumstances life throws at you, the result is the same when your home isn’t geared up to handle it, a deepening sense of burden, stress, anxiety even. All of which have a negative psychological impact on our frame of mind. Something which we were once excited about and looking forward to getting done, is now the thing that makes us stay in bed wanting to pull the covers over our heads. And if we do make it out of bed, we bury our heads in the sand not wanting to face it, whatever it is, because we’ve given our power away and allowed it to take control of our lives. We’ve reached a stage where we feel completely overwhelmed and no longer able to handle the magnitude of the work that is required to fulfil that original desire of creating our dream homes.

You may be thinking that these seem like extreme examples, but if you really think about it, the goal-post of life is forever changing. Perhaps your new home has been your new home for 5, maybe 10 years now, 2.4 kids have come along and you got distracted with having to shift priorities. Creating the dream home is no longer at the top of the list of things to do. But, the dream is still there, niggling away at you, reminding you of that burning desire you once had and was so excited about. Now, even more so than ever though, there is an absolute fundamental need for that dream home to become a reality. But you’re tired, you’re overwhelmed, there are not enough hours in the day and your mind has convinced you it’s better to continue at your coffee/dining-table-come-office-desk for just one more day, because it’s better the devil you know than to get builders in and open pandora’s box, or so that’s how it feels like in your head. Besides, you wouldn’t know where to start. Heck, you don’t even know if the budget that you had in mind all those many moons ago, is even realistic now. So, you carry on along your merry ways and continue being that much loved ostrich, unbeknownst to you that all this is having a major psychological affect on your overall wellbeing and mental health. This, right here, is the pivotal moment where you subconsciously decide, whether the two partners in crime, interior design and psychology stick two fingers at each other and have a messy drawn out divorce, or whether they resume their love affair and become that illusive marriage made in heaven. Okay, I hear you, stop talking in riddles, say what you mean, I hear you all scream!!! Well, what I mean is that you, or rather your psychological mind, fell in love with a house, including the potential of its interiors. You made a commitment to the house when you bought it. You committed not just to the four brick walls and roof, but more so to its potential. A bit like we do with our life partners. We fall in love, we ignore, or live with, what we think are minor imperfections, and we get married. Then, as the years go by, just like with our partners, you know neither you, or the house are perfect, but the potential is still there, so you carry on burying your head in the sand. Meanwhile all those imperfections are racking up, their voice is getting louder and louder as the days and years go by. You find yourself becoming more and more irritated by those minor imperfections that didn’t bother you before, and then, one day, something explodes and you just cannot continue anymore, not even for a split second. So you see, just like with a marriage, poorly arranged, chaotic, disorganised, unstructured home interiors, coupled with insufficient or sub-optimal uses of space will slowly but surely have an undeniably huge impact on one’s psychological and mental wellbeing. The pivotal moment comes when you either decide to dump your house and move on to pastures new by buying a new house, i.e. the divorce, or you decide to transform it into the dream home you had originally desired and now so desperately need.

There is always merit in buying a new home and when thought through well enough, it can be an absolute success. However, the one thing to keep in mind is that your new home will inevitably have its own set of imperfections, which, if not immediately addressed, will bring about the same psychological sh*t storm it did in your old home. Let’s say you’ve decided to stick with your home and give it a major transformation. Yes it will take time. Yes, there will be tantrums along the way. Yes, it will drive you mad. But, do you remember that immense sense of pride and satisfaction you felt when you first moved in and painted the walls? Well now you’re going to feel it a million times over. The light at the end of the tunnel of a major home interiors transformation is that the burden, the stress and the anxiety you felt for so long will literally disappear overnight. Well not overnight, but as soon as you close that door, having said good-bye to the builders for the final time! That’s when you’ll be parking your little bum, on that brand new sofa, feet propped up on a stool, or God forbid, the brand spanking new coffee table, with the fresh smell of paint in the air, and you’ll look around with your eyes wide open, like a kid in a candy store, taking in the delights of the the huge expanse which is now your gorgeous open-plan kitchen-living-dining area. Your mind doing ten to the dozen, as it flashes up images in glorious technicolour, of the glamorous home office you now have, with the shiny walnut topped desk and the ever-so-cosy leather office chair you dreamed about for so long is finally, a much deserved reality. And the kids, let’s not forget the kids who now have their own playroom to destroy, ahem, sorry, play in!!!

Whilst I have intentionally kept this article light hearted and full of humour, so as to not overwhelm anyone who may be experiencing any of these negative feelings right now, there is a very serious side to psychology, mental health and the overall wellbeing a person has which is very much influenced by, and linked to our home interiors. It can be the simplest of things from paint colours, to the functional flow of a house, to the actual space we have within it. If a person whose mental and psychological wellbeing is heavily influenced and uplifted by bright open spaces, flooded with light, their mental health and wellbeing is going to suffer in small cosy spaces, which are painted in dark colours, and have very little natural light flooding into the rooms. Such interiors will drag their mood down and it could even have the potential to bring on a bout of depression. Other people, on the other hand will love such spaces and thrive in them. I know of one friend who loves sitting in cosy dark spaces, and intentionally keeps the lights off right til the last minute, not because she’s being frugal, but because she prefers cosy, intimate spaces and absolutely despises artificial lighting……it messes with her head she says, and I very well believe it. Then there are people like myself, who constantly need the sun to uplift their spirits, so the more their homes are flooded with light and have the sun beaming in, the better they will feel within themselves, and it is for this reason that I do much better in the summer months.

The key fundamental message behind this article which we should all take heed of is that when we make a conscious decision to invest in the transformation of our home interiors, we are not just making an investment in our homes, but in ourselves too. In fact, the investment in ourselves, should come before any evaluation is placed on the investment in our homes.

Think about it, why are we transforming our home interiors? Isn’t it for us? Isn’t it because we need x, y, and z and simply cannot do without it? Yes, so that investment is in us. Full stop! We are doing it because we need it. Sadly, society looks at it the other way around. We are coerced into believing it is an investment in the property and not a second thought is given to the fundamental reasons behind the why. This is when the fundamental needs we have for our homes become judged, not just by others but ourselves too, and labelled as lavish expenses. 

When we change this mindset and start to truly look at our home interior design transformations from the perspective that we are investing in ourselves, that’s when the shift truly begins to happen. We learn and recognise that we are valuing and honouring our core needs and more importantly, we let go of the judgement and guilt that society and we ourselves feel for wanting such extravagance. When we truly let go of this and learn to honour ourselves, we are showing our conscious and subconscious minds that our mental and psychological wellbeing matters to us, and it matters above all else! It is also then that we fully understand and grasp the notion that interior design and psychology truly are a match made in heaven!

Jessy is the founder and managing director of L’atelier Kauldhar Ltd, a multi-disciplinary luxury interior design studio and she adopts the principles of holistic therapies to help clients transform their lives, through the transformation of their home interiors.

With over 2 decades experience in the construction industry, focusing specifically on the cost and commercial management of 5* hotel and residential interior design projects for VVIP clients. She has a holistic background spanning over a decade, where her own personal journey of self discovery led her to become a Usui Reiki master, breath work practitioner, and creative expressions art facilitator.

It is this eclectic mix of academia with holistics which enables her to work with clients on a much deeper level of understanding, not just the aesthetics. It is from this place of deep understanding that she create life enhancing home interiors that clients will not only be wowed by, but be able to breathe a big sigh of relief in! 

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