Is Holistic Design About Crystals?

There is no doubt that holistic interior design is becoming a hot topic in mainstream design circles because of our concern for not only our own wellbeing, but also the wellbeing of the planet. A relatively new branch of psychology that studies the intersection between our mental wellbeing and our physical environment is called environmental psychology, studying how our surroundings shape us as individuals. But holistic design goes beyond just what makes a pretty room, or even how we feel when we are in it. Its purpose is to blend the wellness of our bodies, minds AND spirits so that we can handle the stress of our modern day lives.

It may sound a bit woo-woo and new age, but it actually has been around for centuries in one way or another. Think about the most beautiful churches and buildings in the world and you will discover that people find they feel more at peace and even more spiritual in them.

And inevitably, I get the question, "Does that mean you are going to put crystals all around my house?" when I tell them I take a holistic approach to designing and decorating my client's home. I have to smile and say, no, it isn't about putting crystals everywhere! But there are certain basic rules that make holistic interior design different than just picking out matching furniture and fabrics.

  • Less Clutter: One of the hardest changes clients find they have to make when they embrace holistic design is the editing process of their possessions. Holistic design isn't about creating a sparse home, but it does ask us to really consider what things we have in our home that are not adding to the quality of our lives. It make us think about what things we are holding on to that are keeping us from moving forward. It makes us think about that quote from the great interior designer William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” In holistic design, we think about how we can carefully and intentionally choose things that can be both beautiful and useful, and edit the rest out.

  • Easy Maintenance: Remember those kitchen and bath countertops that were made of square tiles that collected every bit of dirt and goo? I'm not sure what person thought that someone would want to spend their years in their home with a toothbrush or steam cleaner to keep them clean! I have been in so many homes where my client's stress is compounded by things are broken or not maintained. Drawers that do not close, doors that get stuck when you want to open or close them, windows that don't function, rooms that never got finished painting, artwork that never got hung, carpet that has seen better days. Holistic design takes into account making sure that everything is working the way it should, and that as much as possible, things are easy to maintain so that we have time to spend enjoying our homes rather than being a slave to them.

  • Color: Color has the power to agitate and stimulate or calm and relax us. Often times, I meet clients who can't figure out what color to use, or they have gone with a color that is trendy, but not suited to the mood that they want to create. One of the worst instances I saw was a total house remodel by an investor, where they took different shades of grey and used it on every finish, floor, tile, countertop and wall. They tried to sell the house and it took months before they found a buyer, and had to sell it at a discount because of how extreme it was in it's monotony. Color affects your mood, and how and where you use it will be determined on the mood you want to have. I once had a client who loved the color cobalt blue. It made her happy to look at it, so we did a bold thing and painted the areas around her white kitchen cabinets with it and used it throughout the open living space as accents. Was it for everyone? No, but she loved her blue walls and cooking in her kitchen was her therapy.

Cobalt blue kitchen island and chairs | Image source: HGTV Sarah Richardson, designer

  • A Dose of Nature: Biophilia is defined as "a love for living things". A whole science is devoted to how nature or things inspired by nature can positively affect our minds and bodies. Research shows that people who look at nature from their hospital beds are more likely to heal faster than those who don't. Children are calmer when spending time outside in nature, and whole businesses in Japan have dedicated themselves to "forest bathing". We spend over 90% of our lives inside, so bringing nature inside can only affect us in a good way. Bringing nature inside can happen so many ways: plants, lighting, natural fibers, artwork, objects and more. A holistic interior designer can help you discover exactly the right way to introduce it- and yes, that might mean crystals!