We have many conversations with clients about materiality and the emotional effects of colours and textures in the home. So on discovering a new piece of research, The GoodHome Report 2019, by The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen (which we happened upon via Sophie Robinson) on the impact of our homes on happiness and wellbeing, we were intrigued to learn more about their findings. The GoodHome Report 2019 is a collaborative study with home improvement company Kingfisher plc (which includes B&Q), which aimed to answer two primary questions: what makes a happy home and how can we make more people happier with their home in the future?
Many of us would probably readily acknowledge that our homes have a big impact on how we feel, but what may be surprising in these findings is just how important our homes are in relation to other aspects of life such as income, job, house size and location.
The Happiness Research Institute talked to over 13,000 people about their home, and how happy they are in life. The survey included people from across Europe and from different cultures, ages groups and social economic backgrounds. The study identified five core emotions related to happiness at home - pride, identity, comfort, safety and control.
“First and foremost, we want a home we can feel proud of. Usually those feelings of pride come from our personal achievements, whether that’s a home improvement project we completed, or the time and energy we’ve invested to make a place feel like home. Pride is the core emotion that best explains happiness in general and happiness in the home.“
So, what is it that makes us feel proud of our homes? The Happiness Research Institute found a strong link between how much pride people have in their homes and the time they spend improving their home. Whether you are DIY-inclined, or working with interior designers and decorators, you are investing time and energy to create a space that better suits your personality, yours and your families needs. This investment is proven to enhance pride and happiness.
Homes are all about people and the way we live our lives. Another factor shown to increase our pride of where we live is socialising at home. Inviting people to share our homes with us, adds meaning and emotional connections, and creates positive memories.
“The world can be hectic, so it’s natural that we want our home to be a stress-free haven. A place where we can shut out the rest of the world, relax and unwind. Many of the people we spoke to talked about their home as a sanctuary or safe haven.”
The sense of comfort is strongly tied to happiness in the home. Home is somewhere that we should be able to relax, physically and mentally, and recharge. Creating a balanced environment that serves our wellbeing can involve many design elements, from the layout and functionality of a space, to the colours and textures of the soft furnishings we surround ourselves with. Sometimes it’s the natural light that flows into our homes, bringing warmth that we crave for comfort.
“It is important our home feels like an extension of ourselves. Somewhere we can express our own unique personality and sense of identity. Whether it’s the colour we paint the walls or the furniture we choose, we want to put our own stamp on the place we live.”
Our homes are representative of the people who live there. Home is space to spend time in, and to house a collection of things that we have formed connections with. Things that somehow share a narrative with our lives. From the books and photos on the shelves, to the collected treasures brought back from travels, our homes become curated spaces that reflects powerful stories and memories. Whether you rent or own a home, adding things that reflect your personality - be this choosing colours that you connect with, or specific objects that are special to you - it seems that these personal expressions can genuinely enhance the feeling of happiness at home.
“We want to feel safe and secure in our homes. That doesn’t just mean feeling safe from physical threats. It can also be about the condition of our home, such as whether the structure is sound or if the roof leaks.“
“Control is about the level to which we can decide what happens in our own home. This can be linked to things like budget or whether we rent or own the place we live in. It’s ultimately about whether or not we feel on top of things.”
Interestingly, the research found that neither homeownership, location, nor size were essential factors here. It was more important to people that their homes met their needs and that it was adaptable.
The notion of spaciousness versus physical space was explored, and the research found that the perception of spaciousness is more closely connected to happiness than simply having a big home. So factors such as less clutter, more storage become key here. Rearranging our homes to create a greater sense of space could also be an effective and easy way for many of us to boost our happiness levels. We also work with clients using colour to effect the sense of space in a room. This is an important consideration when choosing wall and flooring colours. A light coloured rug can give the illusion of more space than a dark, richly coloured rug. Similarly, the placement of a rug or piece of furniture can direct the eye and flow about a room, adding to the feeling of spaciousness.
In terms of location, The Happiness Institute found that whether we live in the city or the countryside makes no significant difference to our happiness. But having access to some kind of green space is universally tied to happiness at home. Bringing some greenery into our homes is well recognised to improve our overall wellbeing.
What to know more? You can read the full report here.
What do you think makes you happiest in your home? Tag us and share with us on social media!