The Psychology of Interior Design



Have you ever felt like a space made you feel more active, tired, at peace, or even so comfortable that you didn’t realize you had been there for the last three hours? We may not be aware of how powerful interior spaces can be in our lives, and yes, the impact is so great that interiors have effects on human behavior and thinking.


According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 93% of their life indoors. Impressive, right? With this percentage in mind, it can be said that interior spaces have a big impact, which is either positive or negative over human behavior. For this reason, interior spaces should always be designed while considering how certain aspects of interior design affects behavior and wellbeing.


“We shape our buildings and our buildings shape us” said Winston Churchill expressing that environment affects behavior. An example of this is that we could be reading a book for hours while seated on a big comfortable chair because the size is good and the fabric has a nice touch.


Now, imagine reading a book while seated in a wood chair with no cushion. You would most likely change positions 154 times or even stop reading because the seat is not comfortable enough. Another example is being in a classroom or library with few or no windows, poor lighting, and dark colors on the walls.


This place is less likely to engage students because the space feels so dark and small that students will have a hard time trying to read and concentrate. Now, imagine the same situation but with natural lighting and neutral colors placed alongside vibrant colors. The image below is an example of this type of setting. Natural lighting coming from large windows, whites and neutrals used throughout the ceiling, a combination of blues, greys and orange pop up from furniture and flooring causing the space to feel more dynamic, unique and exciting. This specific space is a good example of how to engage kids in the reading area using interior design as a tool. By applying dynamic shapes and colors in this area, kids are provided with energy and enthusiasm, and at the same time, the space is making a positive impact over them.



Wyndham Vale Primary School by Haskell Architects, courtesy of Shaw Contract Group


Interior design is not only about the aesthetic appearance of a space, but is also about how to create harmonious and functional spaces that can have positive impacts over the users of the spaces. Going from the floor, walls, ceilings, lighting, to space planning, the 93% of time spent indoors can be a good experience if all the necessary factors are taken into consideration.


The classroom/library example is one of many other settings where interior designers can apply their knowledge to create interior spaces where the performance and efficiency of the space is improved having a positive impact over the users. Interior design allows designers to expand their creativity and develop critical thinking skills. At the same time, designers have the knowledge and education to use design features to enhance health and wellbeing. In this way, it can be said that interior design has three main goals: create functional and aesthetically pleasant spaces, and improve human’s wellbeing using design as the principal tool.

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