What is the best way to decorate my house, according to science?
Different colours can affect how you feel, so it's worth paying attention to the function of the room when deciding on paint schemes.
Who needs glossy property magazines or home-improvement TV programmes when you can revel in a more nerdy approach, and make your decisions based on findings in the psychology literature?
Take the colour of your walls. You might want to consider painting your bedroom blue because people associate that colour with calmness and relaxation, and there’s tentative evidence that it can even have a stress-relieving effect.
If you have a home study, though, you might consider opting for a more reddish hue since that colour has been associated with heightened focus. Perhaps you should have at least one wall blue in that room too, since the same study found that blue boosted creativity.
In terms of your furniture choices, the psychology literature is clear – you should definitely opt for a curvy aesthetic and avoid straight lines and hard edges. People tend to find curvy shapes more beautiful and relaxing. This actually extends to the shape of rooms and buildings, with curvy structures triggering more activity in pleasure-related parts of the brain, so if you have any ability to lend some bendiness to your home’s layout, that’s another option to consider.
Of course, many of us wish our homes were bigger and more spacious. There’s some empirical evidence to draw upon here too: larger windows help create a sense of space, as does making a room more rectangular rather than square-shaped (you could use furniture to provoke this effect).
Speaking of windows, if possible, you should consider laying out your room in such a way to optimise views over any green space – doing so will be good for your health.
Finally, if you’re not lucky enough to have sight of greenery outside, then be sure to bring it into your home. While the air-purifying properties of house plants are probably modest at best, there is considerable evidence for their psychological benefits, including for reducing all the stress involved in redecorating!
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Asked by: Josie McGregor, Crewe
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Dr Christian Jarrett is a cognitive neuroscientist, science writer and author. He is the Deputy Editor of Psyche, the sister magazine to Aeon that illuminates the human condition through psychology, philosophy and the arts. Jarrett also created the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog and was the first ever staff journalist on the Society's magazine, The Psychologist. He is author of Great Myths of The Brain and Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change.