11 Mar

A Happier Home

Way back when, I took a grad seminar in environmental psychology. At the time, the field was focused on how we found our way around in the world. Lately it has crossed into architecture and interior design, in recognition of the built environment’s impact on our health, thinking and socializing.

Thousands of years ago, humans were hardwired to feel comfortable in certain natural settings that provided both protection and the ability to scan the territory. Today, we still feel better in buildings that evoke those natural instincts. This is called biophilia, the desire of humans to connect with nature, which helps us reduce stress and improve concentration.

Research cited in Psychology Today found that a room with lots of wood in it can decrease stress and fatigue. Ceilings of 10 feet (vs. the standard 7 or 8) stimulate the brain, whereas lower ones can cause men in particular to be more antagonistic. People were more likely to want to leave cramped rooms, which activated the part of the brain that handles fear. The brain region that deals with emotional learning responds to curved spaces, which people rate more highly than sharply rectilinear spaces. Patterns and ornamentation remind us of nature. Natural ventilation is linked to well-being. Windows with views of trees help people recover faster from surgery and decrease feelings of pain.

Decorating with curves, natural materials and views of trees can help people feel more comfortable at home. This includes paintings – there’s a reason landscapes are so popular. Here’s one to help you feel better.


  1. Beth –
    Now I am able to access your full blog, thanks for sharing! I never knew the term “biophilia” before!

  2. Trees are definitely soothing, Robyn, and I’m happy you’re enjoying my version. Your beautiful flowers would probably do the same!

  3. I feel better already. . A beautiful landscape indeed.

    And wiggling my toes in the grass helps reduce stress too.

  4. Thanks for that, Beth. Trees always make me feel calmer, so glad to have yours this evening.

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