Self-care spaces: how your home can make you feel good

For Monica Khemsurov and Jill Singer, the founders of the online design magazine Sight Unseen, the pandemic has brought a new appreciation for the myriad objects they’ve collected over the years. “We were sitting at home and our objects really brought us comfort and made us feel less lonely,” Khemsurov tells BBC Culture. This led to the idea for the duo’s book, How to Live with Objects: A Guide to More Meaningful Interiors, published this week, in which she and Singer share their tips on “how to maximize the visual and emotional impact of your space.” maximize” through objects.

This involves a more deliberate approach to both acquiring and living with objects, prioritizing sincere connection over what Khemsurov calls a “keeping up with the Joneses” attitude. “It’s the basic idea that an object can become imbued with meaning and memories very easily,” she says. Whether it’s something a friend made for you that reminds you that you’re being taken care of, or a piece of candy you bought on a trip abroad, she notes, objects allow us to relive moments. experience, or to feel closer to loved ones at a glance. “In terms of the aesthetics of the object, we’re quite agnostic,” Singer adds. “The whole point is building an interior around your personality.”

Of course, surrounding yourself with precious objects is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating a personal space that makes you feel good. Lindsay T Graham, a personality and social psychologist who specializes in how we affect – and are influenced by – the spaces we inhabit suggests taking an intuitive stance from the start. “First go into space and see how it makes you feel right now,” she tells BBC Culture. “Don’t think about it too long, just ask yourself, ‘Am I feeling stressed? Or happy? Am I ready to relax? Or am I excited?’ Then take a step back and think about what you’re doing want to feel. Noticing the mismatch between the two gives you clues as to what needs to be shifted to create an environment that’s really going to support you.”

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From there, it’s all about selecting the right tools to achieve the desired psychological effect. One element is lighting. “Lighting can transform a space in an instant,” says Graham. “Plus, there’s been so much research on how it affects our circadian rhythm, which affects both our mental and physical health.” Much of this research focuses on using different colored lights to induce different moods. “You can buy warm or cool light bulbs,” environmental psychologist Sally Augustin, PhD, tells BBC Culture. “For example, if you’re trying to create a calming atmosphere where people enjoy spending time together, you want a warmer, softer light, whereas for something that requires concentration, you want the light cooler and more intense.” Warmer light is most effective when emitted from a lower level — “from table or floor lamps, for example” — Augustin explains, while cool lights should be placed in ceiling fixtures or overhead light fittings.

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