January is a time of committing to health, and a healthy home environment can boost well-being. An emerging field of study is neuroarchitecture, the study of how the brain and body responds to being indoors. There is a science that is learning how the indoor quality of air, light, intensity of sound, and the dimensions impact the senses, perceptions, thoughts, and emotions. Here are five ways to incorporate the science into your home:
1. Invite Calm and Connection. We live in a culture that is overworked and overstimulated. How a room is set up influences our behavior. If the focal point of the living room is the TV, people default to more TV watching which tends to increase unrest and anxiety. Rather, create spaces to make them conducive for interactions with family and friends. Make the focal point a view to the outdoors. Create a separate space for different activities, such as reading/praying or watching TV. They can be in the same room, but defined by furniture arrangement, rug, lighting, giving a sense of its own alcove.
2. Let There Be Light, and Night. Exposure to sunlight is important for the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Locate your largest windows in the rooms you’ll use during the day, such as the kitchen, and if you are working from home, have a window nearby that you can easily pause and enjoy the outdoor view and take in the sunlight. Conversely, we need darkness for melatonin production and good sleep. We want to tone down light exposure with dimmer lights in the evening and have light-blocking window treatments in the bedroom to sleep in total darkness.
3. Listening to the Quiet Noise Can Add Stress. There are sound dampening walls, doors, and windows to help block or minimize sound. The choices of flooring, use of fabrics (curtains, upholstery, rugs/carpet, artwork), and patterned textures for wall and ceiling surfaces can decrease the echoing, such as a coffered or wood plank ceiling.
4. Connect with Nature. People will pay more for a home with a view, for we want the sense of a safe refuge in a natural habitat. Create an outdoor oasis and an outdoor room that invites you to relax, read, cook, eat, entertain. Blur the line between the indoors with the outdoors with a glass wall door. Use natural materials in the home such as wood, stone, plants, perhaps fire.
5. Be Strategic with Space. Research shows people find open spaces to be more beautiful, but good design can make a smaller space more beautiful than a larger one. The key to feeling spacious is that the room flows and functions well. People like symmetry and gravitate towards interesting textures and patterns and prefer to withdraw from spaces that are plain and monotonous.
Happy New Year and happy home remodeling!
Janet Cook, Certified Aging in Place Specialist, President of Cook Remodeling (celebrating their 42nd year), invites you to check out their website for more ideas and photos.