Holistic interior design. What does that phrase bring to your mind?
Do you think of a zen-like space with calming paint colors? Do you think of lots of intertwined plants, candles and their amazing aromas? Do you think of a space where you find clarity and respite from the outside world?
Holistic interior design can be a lot of different things to each individual. And if you’re wondering if this type of design and décor is right for you in your home, this post is the perfect starting point on your journey.
First, let’s talk about what holistic design is, because it covers A LOT, and even I don’t delve into each facet in my design work.
Holistic interior design does what all other interior design does: provides solutions to issues within your home, utilizing form, function and aesthetics to obtain a goal. But, holistic design considers so much more than just those basics. Holistic design has the expressed intent and goal to improve your cognitive, psychological and physiological well-being. It’s about looking into you, as the unique person you are, and aiding you in your journey to find oneness.
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As a holistic designer, I sometimes call myself a magician (I say half-jokingly). I get to do amazing things that most people can’t even imagine or comprehend how it’s done. I’m like an alchemist, combining different elements: design, nature, colors and textures all to wield what can be a transformation. But it’s a transformation not only of the space, but a transformation of who you are, freeing yourself to feel more connected and whole.
Does this sound like something you’ve been wanting for yourself?
HOLISTIC INTERIOR DESIGN ELEMENTS & TYPES OF HOLISTIC THERAPIES
The path to find that oneness, simplicity, connectedness, whatever your goal may be, holistic design is tailored to help you achieve your needs and goals.
Many elements of holistic design are interchangeable as a type of holistic therapy as well. Considering that these therapies can be utilized in the home and in design work, it can give you a more meaningfully designed home, one that continually supports you on your path.
There are many facets to this type of design, but if you’re wanting to know if a holistic home is right for you, here is a breakdown of the most common elements of holistic interior design:
Often referred to as chromotherapy, it is the idea that viewing or basking in colors of light can have specific effects on your brain and moods.
Ancient Egyptians were using this long ago, and new research is showing that certain colors in design work have a positive effect on human mind and body health. Some hospitals are even using it to aid in patients’ recoveries. You can use color therapy as an actual therapy--get colored glasses that filter everything into a range of one color.
Or if it’s used in design work, selecting the right paint color for the inside of your home can have a dramatic effect on your mood. Think about it like this: your walls are the largest “canvas” of color you look at, and it can tint other items in your home with light reflecting off of it. Personally, I love delving into the tiniest of details with color selection, because just a slight change of hue can really make all the difference in your home and for your mood.
Remember, holistic design doesn’t just deal with all the things you see and touch, but a truly holistic home encompasses your whole being. And what better way to tap into your whole self than by including all your senses, even smell.
Aromas are simply amazing...they can be absolutely succulent, having your nose and mind yearning for more, or they can be downright disgusting and make you cringe! There’s such a vast array of aromas all completely unique, and certain scents can even have an emotional attachment to them. Some scents can practically transport you back to a moment in your life that you associate with that smell.
For me, it’s blueberries. Literally every time I get a whiff of pure blueberry, it’s like I’m walking through blueberry fields as a child again, and it’s just pure heaven. Do you have a particular scent you love?
Essential oils, which is the oil derived from a plant that capture the plant’s truest essence, are often used in aromatherapy practices. They are becoming fast-growing household items that many enjoy, and for good reason. Essential oils can help heal your body and your emotional state. So if you’re looking to set your mind and body on a positive path forward, adding aromatherapy to your routine at home is a great way to begin.
So, I'll be honest here. I am fairly new to the energy clearing and herbal cleansing idea. I came across it through research that took me on some pretty witchy woo-woo rabbit holes that didn’t really speak to me.
However...I did find something that I really latched on to: the idea of being mindful and getting yourself into a meditative state as you say a mantra and physically walk through your home. By doing this you are literally setting the tone for how you want things to be and asking the universe for it. Now that speaks to me.
Being mindful, present and being able to make a shift in your mindset is often so critical to a therapy’s effectiveness. I think that physically clearing a space of clutter (which is often a physical manifestation of some type of block in your life) can be an “opening the mind” experience. Add to that an energy or herbal cleanse, you can have amazing effects for you as a whole: mind, body and spirit.
This is the idea that human beings innately gravitate toward nature and other forms of life. It is a term that was coined by Harvard naturalist Edward O. Wilson in 1984. Biophilia in design work means so much more than just adding in a plant (but it is that, too!).
Biophilic design can improve your cognitive function, creativity, ability to heal, and greater well-being by connecting you to nature and its restorative qualities. There are many ways to do this. The obvious one: plants--they are alive, they change, they grow, and we can nurture them. In return they can provide amazing benefits like purifying the air in our homes and serve as that true connection to the greatness that is nature.
Incorporating views is another big element in biophilic design, and one I love to employ. Being able to view nature regularly has been proven to have cognitive-enhancing effects on people. By strategically placing furniture in your home to maximize viewing possibilities, you can gain these benefits.
Biophilia isn’t just about what you see, it’s how you interact with nature as a whole, so think of touch, smell and hearing. Texture, scents (here’s aromatherapy again!), and listening to the non-rhythmic sounds of nature can all help you ground in your home space. Incorporating biophilia into design work is something I find essential, and it provides healthy, natural solutions to issues that plague many of us.
These are specific geometric patterns and shapes that we find all over the place in nature and energy forms, and a sacred meaning and symbolism is placed upon them. It’s said that every natural pattern comes back to one of these elemental shapes. You’ll often see these shapes in stained glass windows at churches, showing a connection to these shapes and sacredness.
Sacred geometry, as the name suggests, is founded on mathematical principles. Now, being someone who genuinely enjoyed math (I was the only person I knew who chose to take a calculus course while majoring in an art field), when I first started looking at sacred geometry, I've got to say, I thought it was pretty cool. I do like a lot of the patterns such as the germ of life, flower of life, and the seed of life. I even saw I owned things that had these symbols before I even knew the name for these designs.
However, using sacred geometry in holistic design work means that you get a benefit from putting these patterns into the design. Do I like patterns? Yes. Do I think they are beautiful because these patterns look balanced to the eyes? Yes. Do I get a sense of my well-being becoming heightened by these shapes? Meh...not so much.
Sacred geometry doesn’t speak to everyone, just like all holistic therapies. Incorporating these patterns into your home can happen naturally as they are common patterns found on items. But if you don’t feel their power, I won’t be one to try to convince you otherwise.
This is the broad term for a type of holistic therapy where crystals, gemstones, and the like, can transform energy within you and your home. It is believed that certain crystals hold certain powers that can help aid you in life.
In a way, this is much like sacred geometry. If you feel like you get a benefit from it, then you probably are and that's great! I'm all for what makes you feel your best.
I have one crystal in my home. It’s a clear crystal quartz I bought as a child in Nederland, Colorado. It was the first piece in what became a large rock collection, and it quite simply brings me joy. I’m reminded of Colorado, a place where I lived most of my life, and it’s beautiful.
Is buying a crystal from HomeGoods is going to make your life complete? Probably not, but associations with objects, including crystals, can lift your spirit so I encourage mindful selection when it comes to area. Which, trust me, I know is difficult because, well, who doesn't love shiny, pretty, little things?
This is an ancient Chinese practice that gives you a guide to how to place furniture, items, and even design whole homes with the flow of energy in mind. Other facets of Feng Shui are balancing elements to connect you to your surroundings, freeing yourself from clutter, maximizing natural light, among others.
On the surface, Feng Shui really does encompass many techniques utilized in holistic designing, and even regular interior designing. Feng Shui is much like a guide to how to layout your home for maximum well-being results. The only issue I take with it is that there seems to be “right” and “wrong” ways to do things, and what’s right or wrong is so dependent on the individual, and that is what true holistic design is supposed to be.
For instance, a big no-no of Feng Shui is having a staircase leading down from the second floor that is directly in front of your entry door. It supposedly means that all the energy in your home is escaping right out your front door.
Does this mean you should move because your home has this? No.
Does this mean your unhappiness is solely due to a stupid staircase location? No. Does it mean you should spend tens of thousands of dollars to move it? Definitely, no.
If you’ve been living in a home like that, and never noticed it bothering you, it’s probably not an issue. Your energy, your happiness, your fulfillment isn’t governed by some set of rules to follow, and you know this to be true as you’ve been traveling down your own life's path. Feng Shui certainly has attributes that are found throughout holistic and general interior design, just be sure you’re doing what’s best for you.
I think finding what is best for you is actually a key point to all of holistic design. Not everything is going to speak to you, and that’s okay! Obviously, not everything speaks to me and I’m a holistic designer for goodness sakes! I gravitate toward the things that err on the side of science rather than the woo because that is fundamentally who I am. Find what resonates with you.
If you’re new to holistic design and therapies, there’s no better time than now to begin to dabble in it. Maybe you test out aromatherapy and essential oils for the first time. Maybe you adopt some biophilia elements and get a real, live plant and toss out those dusty, old, artificial flowers. Maybe you add some color therapy to your life and paint your walls the most perfect shade of blue. How exciting to be trying something new!
You are inviting positive change into your life and your home, and however you choose to implement the different types of holistic therapies and design elements, I fully support you in your journey to find yourself.
Stay well and be inspired,