Sunday, September 14, 2014

Is Your Interior Design Depressing You?

By Joseph Pubillones

From time to time, someone will corner me and confess to me that they are depressed; they whisper that they believe their decorating is making them sick. They tell me that their interiors are not to their liking because of choices made by their spouse, their designer, or because of their own misguided attempts at decorating. 

Is it possible for their environment to make them feel sick? Yes (as I think about it), it is possible for design to alter moods.

In the mid-1950s, Norbett Mintz, a researcher at Brandeis University, and his mentor, the renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow, decided to conduct research about the effects of "beauty" on behavior. Mintz had already conducted experiments about the effects of color on human behavior and concluded that color selection has a palpable effect on personal behavior.

A room's design can have an impact on your mood. Mismatched colors or an
overstuffed room can affect your ability to relax and feel comfortable.
In their experiment about beauty, they designed three rooms. The first was "the ugly room", replete with clashing colors and patterns, disorganization and too much furniture for the size of the space. The second was "the average room", arranged with a monochromatic scheme, basic furniture pieces and subtly colored nondescript art. The third was "the beautiful room", decorated with quality case-goods, and fashionable fabrics and colors. Overwhelmingly, the test group rejected "the ugly room". "The average room" and "the beautiful room" were tied as the preferred room. When asked to describe the rooms, the test group was best able to describe "the beautiful room".

As a designer, this is not news to me. There are rooms, especially those that I like, that I can describe with remarkable detail. Although our notion of what is beautiful varies from person to person, it can be said that beautiful design is more memorable. We can deduce that each person prefers the beautiful.

From the time we are born, there are foods that are preferred -- some love sweets; others prefer more savory flavors. Over time, our taste buds evolve, and what was once a favorite food can become insipid or nauseating. The same is true for interior design. Over time, everyone develops preferences about what makes us feel comfortable and at home.

When I hear that someone's home is depressing, I am concerned. I suggest  immediate 
action to change what is most bothersome. If it is wall color: a painting party is overdue. If it is furniture: I ask them to consider new upholstery; a new furniture arrangement; or substituting new pieces for those that offend. And for those too timid or dismayed to tackle their problems head-on and alone, I suggest hiring a professional interior designer.

( Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. © 2014

[Comment by Brandon Oriental Rugs:  Good quality is evident in the words we use when we appreciate its presence: beauty, harmony, integrity, excellence. These are appealing impressions it makes upon our minds and spirits. It can't be faked. Attempts to put a stamp of "quality" -- as in "good quality" -- upon things which possess or convey "bad quality" doesn't fool anyone who appreciates quality and the benefits it inherently brings.]

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