These Decorating Ideas Can Make You Happier

Everyone deserves to feel happy at home — and who couldn't use a mood boost? Check out these 10 ways to promote happiness by design.

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Just walking into a well-designed space can make you feel happy, at home or at peace. So what’s the best way to bring that feeling to your space? If your goal is happy design, a few scientific and spiritual theories may offer some insight or help you narrow down your décor options.

Say Hello to Hygge

Danes regularly top surveys as the happiest people in the world. One key reason? Their concept of hygge, a word that has no direct translation in English but generally means to make your space cozy and comfortable. Some key design elements of hygge you can adopt: faux-fur blankets, candlelight or twinkle lights and soothing neutral color palettes.

Consider Curvy Silhouettes

Whether you’re choosing furniture, lighting or plumbing fixtures, consider things with soft or curved lines rather than geometric edges. Studies have shown repeatedly that people have a preference for curved versions of objects or abstract shapes, which are often described as more beautiful and more pleasant.

Display Fresh Flowers

Cut blooms from your garden or wildflowers from a field and put them in a vase for an instant mood booster. Not only are they pretty to look at, a study from Rutgers connects an immediate mood boost and long-term happiness from cultivating and coming into contact with flowers.

While you’re at it, bring a bouquet to a friend’s home, which is proven to deepen relationships — another key factor to lasting happiness.

Cut the Clutter

Multiple studies have linked clutter and mess to depression, anxiety and negative coping strategies, such as eating too much junk food and poor sleep. Declutter realistically, one spot at a time, creating a permanent home for the bits and pieces you need but can’t leave sitting out. Maybe start with some instruction from Marie Kondo, or by making your foyer closet work for you instead of against you.

Indulge Your Senses

What feels like home to you? The sights, sounds, smells? Give yourself permission to design from the emotional gut. The emerging field of neuroarchitecture studies the physiological changes people undergo when they enter a space they find beautiful, organized, or feels like home. It legitimizes the notion that good design can improve our health and mood.

One study suggested blue spaces may encourage creative thinking. It also said greenery and natural features may not only improve mood, but enhance working memory and accelerate recovery from stress and surgery. Neuroarchitecture is also being used to help make homes more calming for those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, to great effect. The same tips apply to healthy folks, too. For example: A logical placement of furniture, views of a beautiful garden and unambiguous uses for each place in the home can help you feel oriented and at peace.

Paint Your Front Door

Feng shui is a spiritual practice espoused by millions of people for thousands of years, and many of its energetic theories are echoed in other design philosophies around the world. It places important function on the front door, as believers think it is the way that energy, or chi, enters your home.

If you practice feng shui, the color you choose for the front door depends on which direction the door faces. That direction corresponds to an element which has colors that will create harmony — or not. For example, North-facing doors coordinate with water, and colors that would be considered auspicious would be black, deep purple or dark blue. But there are additional harmonizing colors and elements, so there are lots of options.

If you just want a big curb-appeal punch, choose a color that pops against the rest of the house — and don’t be afraid to have a little fun!

Bring the Outside In

Arranging furniture so it doesn’t block windows, using sheer curtains instead of light-blocking ones, or even designing a room’s use around how much natural light it gets could help you maximize your natural light exposure, and therefore happiness. Sunlight also boosts Vitamin D, which helps strengthen our immune system and mental health, among other positive effects.

Harvard naturalist Dr. Edward O. Wilson coined the term biophilia in his book of the same name to describe the human phenomenon of wanting to be connected to nature. One of the elements that makes humans feel happy is the interplay of the changing natural light throughout the day. Other design tools that could play off our inclination toward biophilia include decorating with lots of indoor plants and taking inspiration from the natural world — and not just “earth tones!” — for interior color palettes.

Pick a Paint Color

Pick a color, any color? Well, sort of. Scientifically speaking, we’re still sorting out why colors effect our emotions, and whether each color and emotional pairing is a universal experience. Many surveys indicate people feel most calm around shades of blue. One study showed adults prefer blue, red or green. And another determined green and yellow are our best color bets for happiness.

Diffuse Essential Oil

While they don’t fundamentally change the way your room looks, studies have shown that diffusing essential oils helps regulate moods. There are plenty of stylish options to make the mood boost delivery method stylish, such as this diffuser from Target. Famously, lavender essential oil has been shown to improve relaxation, sleep and moods. Peppermint and orange are linked with reduced fatigue and improved mood.