Healing space to heal the individual. Design psychology is a modality that I use when a client is in need of a healing transformation. This project is a wonderful example of how we can create a design concept with the intention to trigger a deeper sense of healing during a period of transition. I was once asked if the way a space is set up can contribute to depression or whether one’s depression was responsible for manifesting let’s say a cluttered space. That was an important question and an important distinction.
If the room was the contributing factor, then we needed to change the sensibility of the room. However, if the depression was the promoting factor, then we would know the power of our sensibilities on our environment. In other words, if depression can change a room’s dynamics, other factors can reshape it also. Emotional clutter can be seen in an excess of belongings that define painful memories. These aspects can have a profound effect on your mental state and quality of life. This is compounded when a decor style no longer reflects who you are.
My mission was to re-imagine this mid century home to be beautiful while stimulating her ability to heal and connect with a deeper sense of self. This would give her a home that was more nurturing, healthy and joyful. Using feng shui, her relationship area (part of the original kitchen eating nook) was completely missing from the home and needed to be cured. The original kitchen had an aloof, unwelcoming layout caused by walking into the sides of the cabinets with nowhere specific for the eye to land. Nothing was there to draw you in or feel inviting. The layout was just not conducive to allowing the energy to flow, creating stagnation.
I began by exploring her personal goals, life patterns, and visceral responses to color, textures, and decor styles. What I found was that she loved the mix of rounded edges with the clean lines of contemporary and mid century modern designs. Aside from applying design psychology, Feng shui was the underbelly to every major decision, including swapping the kitchen and kitchenette areas which allowed us to push out the exterior wall to remedy her missing relationship area, replace a wall of cabinets with sliding doors -allowing a flood of natural light, and opening up the wall over the banquette to enhance the flow of air, visual interest, and feeling of expansion.
Creating a healing space starts with the awareness that you are like an interior therapist, looking for ways to increase inner and outward connectivity. I immediately noticed that the floor plan was working in the opposite direction. One example of how I shifted that was placing the stove top (not seen) so that she could cook while conversing with her guests at the banquette and using the seating to draw you into the space in a welcoming way from the kitchen entrance. This gave the feeling of comfort while putting her in a position to look over her domain from the chef position. Where as a feng shui room design brings a sense of harmony and warmth to one’s space, psychology and interior design creates a more dynamic environment that fully reflects her sensibility and supports her emotional life. The painful memories were removed and replaced by strategic items and visual areas that trigger a feeling of inspiration for her on a personal level.
I can report that my client has been in a happy relationship for years since the construction period. She has come to lectures to talk about her experience of going through this process which helped her get past the trauma she had gone through before we began. The transformation of her space gave her a dwelling that supports her on a deeper level. Her old environment reflected what she thought she was suppose to be when they moved into the home in the late 1950’s and over time never allowed her to grow or reflect the nuances in her personality that make her special. Once she realized how her space had been triggering her on an emotional level, it was like watching a butterfly emerge. I am grateful to have been a part of her journey.