How To Design Your Home For Mental Health

The layout and design of the family home can have a direct affect on the mental health of both yourself and your family.

Overcrowding, clutter, poorly chosen décor, and certain pollutants can cause anxiety, depression and stress. But there is good news: you can take charge and re-design your home for mental health.

There are serious mental health benefits of a properly designed interior. You can boost your mood, improve your health and wellbeing, and improve family life in general just by making some smart adjustments to your house.

In this guide I will show you how to design your home with mental health in mind. We’ll look at how to reduce stress, anxiety and depression through decoration and layout, and the best items that you can incorporate into your house for your wellbeing.

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How Your Home Affects Your Mental Health

An improperly designed or badly maintained house can have dire consequences for both your physical and mental health. Research shows that conditions such as crowding and inadequate lighting are associated with increased risk of mental health disorders. Crowded houses, for a start, have been associated with higher levels of aggression, withdrawal, and stress [1].

Lack of proper lighting, meanwhile, is related to depression [2].

And there is even some limited research to show that mold could cause depression [3].

Of course there are also the side-effects that we are all aware of, such as the fact that clutter reduces your ability to concentrate and can cause stress and anxiety, and the fact that improper lighting can cause fatigue and headaches.

But if all this sounds like doom and gloom, it really needn’t. The good news is that you can improve home design and thereby improve mental health at the same time. Let me show you how.

Home Design And Depression

There is a direct correlation between home design and depression, which you can learn more about with ModernCastle’s guide to reducing depression through interior design.

The essential key to decorating your home to reduce depression is to incorporate mood-enhancing elements.

The most essential of these is lighting. Natural light is best. By incorporating natural light into the home you increase your absorption of Vitamin D, which is an essential nutrient when dealing with depression [4]. One solution is to widen the windows or simply keep the curtains open.

Another smart strategy is to include natural elements in the home. Research shows that spending time in nature naturally alleviates many of the symptoms of depression. Think house plants and water features, the latter of which adds an auditory clue that helps your mind to relax.

You can also add little happiness-reminders such as photos of particularly happy times with your family and friends, or artwork that creates positive emotions in the various rooms of your house. Wall decals that show positive affirmations can help too.

One great exercise for depression is to practice meditation, which is why I recommend creating a meditation space at home [READ: Meditation room ideas].

Interior Design And Anxiety

There are many ways in which you can improve home design with anxiety in mind.

The interior of your house can either cause anxiety or relieve it. And there many simple steps to achieving the latter. Something as simple as tidying up and organising can reduce the information-overload that many people experience at home, and that is a cause of anxiety.

Another great solution is to incorporate what I call “meditation herbs”. For instance, you might like to install an essential oil diffuser in the living room. These oils help the mind to relax and produce a pleasant fragrance in the home.

Anxiety is also caused by certain triggers. For instance, if you have a specific type of anxiety, let’s say health anxiety, you will aggravate your symptoms by having too many reminders about your heath around the property. That’s why something as simple as putting medication away in a cupboard instead of visibly on display can reduce your anxiety—because you’re no longer being constantly reminded of the problem.

Textures can also be incorporated in the property.  Soft carpets, for instance, create a pleasant sensation for the feet. The mind is constantly interpreting physical sensations. So by incorporating relaxing textures on your carpet you don’t just make your feet more comfortable, you relax your mind too.

Then there are simple decorative items that can relieve anxiety. These include house plants, relaxing artwork, family photos, plush pillows, and water features.

Home design for stress

Stress is the most common mental health problem in the world. And no surprise. The constant pressure put on us in the modern world and the overabundance of mental stimuli can make it a challenge just to relax.

That said, you can definitely use home design for stress relief. The most simple way to accomplish this is simply to clean up. Just by organising your paperwork and household items properly you will reduce mental noise and relax the mind.

Another smart strategy is to include a relaxing focal point in each room. This could, for instance, be a relaxing statue that reminds you to take it easy (many people like Buddha statues) or relaxing wall art.

Colours can also play a pivotal role in the way we feel at home. Neutral colours like beige tend to be relaxing, as is blue. So you might like to get the paint-pot out.

Textures, meanwhile, should focus on softness. Make sure your couches are genuinely relaxing to sit on and that any pillows are still plush and soft. The bed is another key item. If it is old it might have become hard and uncomfortable to lie on. This could be reducing the quality of your sleep, which has a direct impact on stress. It might be time to buy a new mattress.


The design of your home has a direct affect on your mental health. A badly designed, disorganised, cluttered or messy house could be contributing to a mental health condition.

The good news is that you can improve mental health by changing your interior design and swapping out certain items. And it needn’t even be particularly expensive. Simple steps like keeping the curtains open to let sunlight in, incorporating house plants and water features, and simply tidying up, can help to improve your mental wellbeing.

How is your home affecting your mental health?

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NEXT: How To Make Your Home Zen.


By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

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