Interior Design Psychology and How to Apply It

Interior design psychology is a field that deals with interior environments.
Interior Design Psychology and How to Apply It
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Written and verified by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Last update: 14 October, 2022

It’s incredible how a certain room can generate all sorts of emotions just by being in it. Who hasn’t felt overwhelmed in a messy room? Or who hasn’t experienced a feeling of peace in a minimalist setting surrounded by neutral tones? We’re sure you’ve experienced something similar at some point in your life. Also, keep in mind that your feelings are also driven by your personal preference. Interior design psychology is a field that has a lot to say about this.

Undoubtedly, psychology can play an important role in the various environments that surround you and, to a large extent, shape your home, leisure places, and work. Although the relationship between psychology and interior design has always existed, it gained more force since the 19th century. Ok but, how exactly does it influence you?

The connection between interior design and psychology

Interior design psychology is a branch of environmental psychology that deals with the study of the relationship between different types of environments and how they affect the behavior and mood of the people who inhabit them. Its goal is to create positive effects and, also, to make the most of this relationship.

Every place you visit makes you feel a certain way. That is, it produces an effect on you. And this is precisely the role of psychology in interior design. In particular, what pertains to how color impacts your mood, the furniture arrangement, and even object selection.

A person reading in a comfy chair.

Sibel Seda Dazkir, who has a Ph.D. in Design and Human Factors from Oregon State University, conducted interesting work that proofs how decor influences people’s moods. In fact, his results confirmed that objects with curvy and sinuous lines cause feelings of happiness and relaxation. Similarly, those with rectangular lines induce feelings of coldness and hostility.

Influence of spaces on psychological aspects

As you can see, there’s definitely a relationship between a certain space and your mood. Hence, professionals who apply psychology in their interior design take into account the personal characteristics of their clients and their needs when it comes to creating a space for them.

Ok, but how can spaces influence humans at a psychological level? Also, what sensations can the various types of spaces and decor awaken in you? Here are some important aspects of it.

  • Amplitude. This is usually associated with a feeling of peace and quiet.
  • Complexity. It conveys a challenge, which is often attractive.
  • Coherence. As space and objects become more homogeneous, you’ll experience pleasant feelings of comfort.
  • Texture. The softer a surface, the greater the feeling of pleasure. However, this doesn’t only happen with touch but also with every other sense.
  • Identifiability. When something is easily identifiable, it transmits pleasant sensations. Otherwise, it generates tension and uneasiness until you figure out what it is.
  • Color. Each color induces an emotion. For example, black is often tied to pessimism and aggressiveness; white to purity; yellow to happiness, and green to feelings of harmony, hope, and peace.
  • Social. You use your spaces for sharing. In fact, there are certain spaces designed just for that purpose. For this reason, you sometimes tend to look for spaces that are optimal for interacting with others.
  • Temperature. Every space has a thermal sensation associated with it and its comfort depends on whether you like it cold or hot.

Everyone’s different

However, you can’t generalize because each person is different. When it comes to authenticity, the individual value of a human being is important as every single one thinks, feels, and acts differently. Likewise, you won’t perceive and feel the same spaces the same way. For instance, a given space can make someone feel at ease, while it instills feelings tension or stress in another.

Psychology in interior design is also important in the therapeutic field. For example, a study was conducted in 2013 to analyze the importance of spaces for patients. It found that any external stimulus is an influencing factor. Also, that consulting a professional designer helps make a therapy room more effective.

Two people talking.

Benefits of interior design psychology

The distribution of the spaces as well as the arrangement of the elements that comprise it, along with the color used, all have an impact on your mood. In fact, there are a number of recommendations from interior design psychology when it comes to decorating your house:

  • Pastel colors are preferable to gray and white. This is because the latter colors give an impersonal touch while the pastel range provides a feeling of relaxation and intimacy.
  • Spaciousness generates a feeling of freedom and tranquility, which is why overload isn’t recommended.
  • Personalize your spaces with photos or objects that have an important personal meaning. It’ll make people feel more comfortable.

Finally, keep in mind that every detail is important when it comes to space. This is because it invites you to remember. Also, it arouses emotions and promotes pleasant sensations.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Thomberg, J.M. (1986). Psicología y Arquitectura: notas breves. Introducción a la psicología ambienta.
  • Catzman, C. (2013). Psicología y Diseño de Interiores. Estudio de la influencia del diseño en la práctica terapéutica. Proyecto de investigación pedagogía del diseño y las comunicaciones. Universidad de Palermo y Facultad de Diseño y Comunicación.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.