Design helps create a fresh, warm and welcoming mood in this room.

Design helps create a fresh, warm and welcoming mood in this room.

Décor has an incredible ability to affect a person’s mood. If you don’t believe me, head down to the nearest high-end spa and sit in the waiting room for a few minutes. You’ll immediately feel nourished by the soft pastel colors around you. The nature sounds wafting from the speakers will put you at ease, while your eyes will rest lovingly on a peaceful fountain in the center of the room. Ahhhh, I can feel the knots in my shoulders loosening already.

When it’s time to decorate or redecorate your home, give some thought to the mood you want the room to ignite. Maybe you want your living area to be cheerful or peaceful or warm. Perhaps your office should be soothing…no, no, lively and energetic instead. Should your bedroom be comfortable, sensual or maybe a little bit of both?

The mood you want to create will determine many different aspects of the room, including:


Colors have a well-researched ability to inspire moods and emotions in humans. Warm colors, like yellow, red and orange, call to mind energy, friendship and passion. You might want to consider warm colors as accents in an office or exercise room where you want to turn the energy up. Cooler colors, like blues, purples and greens, are soothing and relaxing. These are great accents for a bedroom or a bathroom. After a hard day of work, you’ll love resting your eyes on soft shades of turquoise or olive as you sink into a toe-curling bubble bath.


Ever wonder why so many restaurants dim their lights? Soft lighting helps inspire feelings of intimacy and relaxation that make the dining experience a little more special. When you compare this with the harsh institutional lighting of, say, a hospital or typical office building, you can start to understand how much lighting impacts the mood of a room. For those rooms where light is essential, like the kitchen, bright lights can help you feel more energized and focused. In other rooms, play with the lighting. Maybe you want a warm glow in the bedroom, or a dimmer in the living room so you can set different moods. Don’t take lighting for granted. Try different bulbs and different shades, and see how the effect feels to you.


A cramped and visually crowded room can increase stress. Deep in the lizard parts of our brains, we humans just don’t like the idea of being confined. If your furniture is too big for the space, the room will seem crowded. Likewise, if you fill the walls with lots of different focal points or crowd shelves and table tops, your guests will feel like bees in a hive. On the other side of the coin, too much space may make a room feel distant and cold. Utilize the space by giving guests room to move and sit without overwhelming them.

Smell and Audio

When we think about the mood of a room, we often immediately consider visual cues. However, our other senses are constantly guiding our senses as well. You’ve probably had the displeasure of eating at a restaurant with a wailing baby in the booth behind you. No matter how visually appealing the restaurant, the noise destroyed any ambiance. Additionally, our olfactory sense (sense of smell) has a powerful hold on our mood.  Think about the example of the spa I used earlier. Can you hear the gentle sounds of nature from the speaker, the soothing chime of the water falling from the fountain? Take a deep breath, do you smell jasmine or vanilla from the candles on the table? Nice and relaxing, isn’t it?

When designing your room, don’t forget about the audio and olfactory experiences of your guests. Add some candles or wall plug-ins to inspire mood through scents. Consider limiting the interruption of outdoor noise by investing in additional insulation and high-quality windows.


And finally we come to accessories. Everything you put on your wall, on your coffee table or on a shelf makes a statement that will affect mood. A big, splashy modern piece of art may help inspire creativity and deep thoughts, while an arrangement of candles on your mantle is conducive to relaxation and peace.

I have a challenge for you. For the rest of the day, think about the mood of each room you enter. Consider things like lighting, color, auditory cues, accessories and use of space. Note how each room affects how you feel. When it’s time to decorate your home, consider working with an interior designer to help you inspire the right moods for yourself, your family and your guests.   If you live in San Diego or Los Angeles, I’d love to hear from you and see if I can help you set the perfect mood in your home.