Ancient wisdom across civilisations laid great stress on good living through the creation of healthy interiors and buildings. This wisdom was based on the complete understanding of the mysterious energies that surround us and their interactions with the human body. In every decorating project, it’s important to develop a decorating plan that fits your needs, lifestyle and most importantly your budget. Consider taking these three easy steps:
Step 1: Visualise your project. Begin your project by visualising, and then listing all the types of activities you will want to conduct in your home.
Step 2: Assess your space. Look at your home with a “critical” eye and ask if your space accommodates all of the activities you listed. While the answer is usually yes, you may still need to take advantage of some clever pre-planning.
Step 3: Colour your world. Colours set the stage and provide harmony to everything else that will eventually find its way into your home. It’s the backdrop that surrounds all of your furnishings, fabrics, accessories and lighting—it can make your project successful or cause it to fail.
Colour tips: Use colour unequally for better proportion and balance. While this sounds like a complete contradiction, it really works. You may want to consider a deeper, more dramatic shade to create an accent wall behind your bed.
Then, by colouring the adjoining walls in a lighter hue of the same colour, you can create a more visually interesting space. Use lighter colours to create a feeling of spaciousness. By colouring the walls in lighter, paler hues, you’ll actually be giving your bedroom a more expansive look.
Use bright, strong colours to create a warm, cozy feeling. This is especially important if you have large, spacious rooms with high ceilings. Warmer colours tend to “humanise” large spaces, making them more livable and welcoming. If your desire is to camouflage architectural defects, then a more neutral paint of the same tonal value will help blend your walls, ceiling and floors and “hide” those unhappy features.
The Psychological Properties of Colours
There are only 11 basic colour words in English, and, yet, there are millions of colours. Computers can generate 16 million colours and shades and the human eye can distinguish more than any machine. The 11 basic colours have fundamental psychological properties that are universal, regardless of which particular shade, tone or tint you use. Each of them has potentially positive or negative psychological effects, and which of these effects is created depends on the relationships within colour combinations.
There are four psychological primary colours—red, blue, yellow and green. They relate respectively to the body, the mind, the emotions and the essential balance between these three. The psychological properties of the 11 basic colours are as follows:
White: Positive: hygiene, sterility, clarity, purity, cleanliness, simplicity, sophistication and efficiency. Negative: sterility and coldness.
Red: Positive: physical courage, strength, warmth and energy. Negative: defiance and aggression.
Blue: Positive: intelligence and calm. Negative: lack of emotion.
Yellow: Positive: optimism, confidence and creativity. Negative: anxiety.
Green: Positive: harmony and balance. Negative: stagnation.
Violet: Positive: spiritual awareness and luxury. Negative: suppression and inferiority.
Orange: Positive: food and warmth. Negative: frivolity.
The Environment and Your Home
There is a growing preference among people worldwide towards using natural materials, fabrics and paints in interiors. This stems as much from ecological consciousness as spiritual belief. The quest for a harmonious environment has also seen the resurgence of the ancient systems of vaastu shastra and feng shui. Kirti Betai, an expert in pyramid energy systems and vaastu and feng shui corrections, based in Agra, says that for harmonious and healthy interiors, you need a harmonious exterior. He defines the exterior as your personality, home and business, while the interior is your body, mind and soul. “Meditation is the only method of achieving harmony between your energy field, the energy fields of other life forms and those of all the other inanimate objects in your network. But meditation cannot be practised if your external or internal interactions are not harmonious.”
Prabhat Poddar, geo-biologist and architect based in Pondicherry, says there is an invisible energy that flows through the universe—through our body, the food we eat, our home, workplace and the air that surrounds us. It is known as prana in India, chi in China and ki in Japan.
There seems to be an invisible equation that operates between the elements outside, the elements within the individual and his living and working space, and any imbalance in the interplay of these forces can result in chaos. While the first two are near constants, the third is a variable.
So how healthy is your home? Poddar says our well-being is related to the direction we face, the materials used, colour, decorative plants, flowers and objects that we use inside and outside our homes, our reaction to situations, stress, the food we eat, the gems, jewellery and clothes we wear. He quotes Sri Aurobindo in The Foundation of Indian Culture: “True happiness in this world is the right terrestrial aim of man, and true happiness lies in the finding and maintenance of a natural harmony of spirit, mind and body. A culture is to be valued to the extent to which it has discovered the key to this harmony and organised its expressive motives and moments.” So, whichever method you choose to energise your home—vaastu, feng shui, geomancy, geo-biology, or simply ensuring that your space is exactly the way you want it to be—remember that, after all, these methods are different facets of the same coin. Their aim is common—to enable you to live in an environment that is nourishing, life supporting and directly connected to the cosmic intelligence of nature.
The author, a well-known practising architect based in Los Angeles, California, is Interior Design Director and owner of Piccadilly Designs