Amidst the craziness of daily life, our homes serve as sanctuaries to ground us, spark joy and support our well-being. Here, LiLu Interiors Owner and Principal Designer Lisa Peck shares insights about how beautifully designed spaces can positively affect us on a neurological level — a practice known as neuroaesthetics.
What is neuroaesthetics and how does it impact how we experience our surroundings?
Neuroaesthetics is a relatively new field that studies the effect beauty has on humans. Using evidence-based design principles, this multidisciplinary science leverages new technology, such as functional MRI, to study how art and our environment can positively impact our emotional health, social life, focus and general well-being. Using fMRI, scientists can observe the effects aesthetics have on the brain in real time. Similarly, there have also been studies on how different environments affect human biometrics, such as heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure.
What small changes can we make to improve our emotional health at home?
Incorporating art that depicts a beautiful nature scene is an easy way to boost the neuroaesthetics of your home. Using a paint color you find cheerful or calming is another quick tweak that is easy to implement. Think about a butter-yellow kitchen wall, a cheery creamsicle-orange hallway or a calm blue bedroom wall. You could also consider adding pillows with a leafy print to the living room. The objectives of neuroaesthetics are to not only expose yourself to beauty but to practice creativity yourself. Design a space within your home that supports a creative hobby; this could be a place to keep art supplies, books of poetry, coloring books or a yarn stash.
Which design elements are key for creating a joyful environment?
When working with a client, we like to incorporate colors that promote a feeling of safety, serenity and joy. We know that using lines, lighting and patterns that mimic natural elements is a foundational practice in neuroaesthetics. This could be as simple as keeping living plants in your home or as complex as using fractal patterns (often found in nature) within the architecture or in the fabrics found throughout your home.
Are there any rooms that are particularly important to focus on?
Incorporating elements of neuroaesthetics into every room is a good idea! If you need to pick a space to start with, choose the room you spend the most time in while awake. If it’s your kitchen, consider using color or pattern to bring a joyful vibe to the space. If it’s your family room, create storage for art supplies and add plants to the room. If it’s your bedroom, select a soothing wall color and add a soft floral or leaf-like pattern in the pillows or drapery.
How do you curate artwork to promote positive feelings within a space?
I recommend featuring artwork that captures a scene or color palette of a natural environment you find particularly beautiful or that reminds you of a cherished memory. Everyone will have a slightly different perspective on this. Personally, I love the ocean, so a painting that recalls the Aegean Sea would lift my spirits. For someone else it might be a desert, forest or mountain scene. Whichever you prefer, I suggest focusing on colors found in nature.