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Designing Spaces that Promote Wellbeing

Designing spaces that promote wellbeing. That’s me. My core value. My niche. I remember the day I came up with that little tagline. Gosh, it felt good to type it out. It felt right.

Lately, health and wellbeing have become somewhat of a trend. Although, I tend to steer away from trends, this is definitely one I can get around – our health is so important. Unfortunately, in my case, something truly devastating had to happen for me to place better emphasis on my health.

In 2013, my older sister was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer. At the time, her prognosis was grim and it turned my familys’ world upside down. Not long after her diagnosis, as a result of the resounding stress, my dad had a stroke that affected the centre of his cerebellum. We were lucky, despite needing some work on his balance, he has fully recovered from this incident with no long term damage and miraculously, my sister is cancer free. But ultimately, our lives have changed. We will never be the same people we were before that fateful day of my sister’s diagnosis in February 2013. In spite of her improvement in health, we are all changed. And, perhaps more remarkably, we’re better because of it. We eat better, we’re conscious of moving our bodies regularly and we’ve learnt to be more mindful whenever possible. For me, practising mindfulness has been my most difficult challenge. I’ve sought perfection my entire life. I like to be in control and learning to let go is still somewhat of a daily battle. Throughout this period of growth and personal development, whilst emphasising the importance of diet and exercise, I began to realise there was another area of my life that was affecting my health and wellbeing – my home.

My first experience of the connection to my physical space and wellbeing when I was heavily pregnant with my first born and my obstetrician had ordered me to rest. And I could not. Nesting is no joke and as hard as I tried each time I sat to rest I would notice things that needed to be cleaned. Unless my entire house was spotless I could not physically rest. I literally could not relax (and still cannot) when my house wasn’t tidy. At the time, I had no understanding of design psychology and so I passed it off as nesting. I now know it was so much more than that. Human beings have very real psychological and physiological responses to their surrounding environments. For me, mess triggers my anxiety. It is the fastest way for me to feel out of sorts and agitated. There is a very real reason people will say organise your home and you organise your life. Colour, tactility, our state of organisation, and physical belongings are just some of the things that affect the way we feel within a space, whether consciously or subconsciously.

While studying interior design, my interest in design psychology grew and, under the guidance and direction of my lecturers, I began to rapidly devour as much information as I could on the topic. Whilst the concept itself is not new, its application in interior design is an emerging field and I am proud to be a pioneer here in Australia, having now gained my certification as a Design Psychology Coach.
Design psychology is fascinating to say the very least and when we are able to implement its principles correctly, it can be life transforming. I am passionate about the ways in which human beings respond to their physical environments and considering we spend 90% of our time indoors, either at home or at work, it is vital that we intentionally design these spaces in particular, to ensure we are working productively, that rest is encouraged where appropriate and our spaces are as stress free as possible. For me, how we feel within a space will always been more important than how a space looks. However, when we can get the two to work together, that’s when magic happens. So I encourage you to come along with me on this journey of self discovery as we work together to find our way home.

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