Discussion Topic #1: Design Therapy

Interior design by Pamela Jensen and Michele Dunker with Medici Co. (staging by Michele Dunker)

For our first discussion topic we’d like to talk about how design can sometimes become therapy. We often work with clients that are going through a large transition period (divorce, marriage, a new business, coping with the death of a loved one, moving into a new home often in a new city) and we’ve been able to see first hand how a new space can help them get through that transition. Our environment has a large impact on the way we live our lives and often the simplest change can have a big impact. Do you have any stories of how design has become therapy for you? Please share any thoughts you have on the topic even if you don’t agree (but please keep things civil.)

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6 Responses to Discussion Topic #1: Design Therapy

  1. I completely agree. My environment has a huge affect on my mood. When I come home to a messy house (which is quite often unfortunately) my mood instantly drops and I feel inadequate or like a bad wife. Lately I’ve been making a conscience effort to make sure my house stays tidy and it really has improved my mood. I started by making sure my bed gets made everyday. I don’t always take the time to make it well and tuck the sheets and everything but I make sure it looks nice and get all the pillows placed and karate chopped (my husband thinks the karate chop is silly but I love it). Now when I walk in the room and see the pretty bed I smile and feel a little bit better about myself. I love how something so small and simple like making the bed has impacted me and my life.

  2. I’m more and more convinced the longer I have been a designer of how essential it really is to have space that you feel good about. Design is important, yes, but as long as you feel good about your space that is what matters. I just did a small makeover on my own master bedroom. It seems frivolous to say that just some small changes have altered my outlook of that space. I feel better and although I”m not dealing with any major changes, it has felt like a much needed improvement. I even smile as I clean it up and get back to the “ideal”. Its not always perfect, but because its designed properly (well, at least for my budget) I’m much more pleasant in that space. Take me into one of my other rooms that isn’t so put together and my attitude seems to change. I guess if I need some peace and a place to recharge I know right where to go.

  3. Amie says:

    I agree that a beautiful space can change your mood. There’s something to be said about a space that has unity and balance. Sometimes clients will see work that we’ve done and tell us how great it looks and how good it feels, but they can’t tell us why they like it. Usually it’s because thought was put into every aspect of the space and there is balance there. Detail is so important too. It’s the little things that can make the biggest difference.

  4. Small, easy changes absolutely have an impact. I like to change my hair color when I’m feeling blue. Same goes for the throw pillows, art or accessories.

    I know many people decide to take on a big project (renovation, design) after a major life change as a kind of cleansing but I honestly don’t know how they do it. Doing any kind of major overhaul is always so stressful for me that I need to be in a good place in my life otherwise its just going to add to the chaos. Perhaps for those with unlimited funds that can hire a team to do all the dirty work? In that case, I can see it. But if you are the one with the responsibility while working and living a normal life, it wouldn’t be the way I’d go.

    But after all the work is done and the final project is finished, it definitely has a restorative effect. For one you can be proud of what you’ve accomplished. And knowing you’ll have some free time again is nice 🙂

  5. I think it can! I know when I have a room put together that I feel better about it! Also I like the sense of accomplishment from finishing a project!

  6. Tricia Rose says:

    There are two sides to design therapy for me – one is the pleasure of seeing my concept fulfilled, and the other is the distraction of being driven and physically busy at a time of stress! When my mother was in hospital I took down the drywall and nasty Masonite panelling which covered honest shiplap in my sunroom – when vital rolls of fabric were on hold, I stripped and painted our loooong front fence to relieve my frustration.

    It has to be a big project or I begin to obsess on the details. For my next crisis, I plan to remove my bedroom ceiling then insulate and plank the pitched roof.

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