• Julia Kendell


Updated: Mar 15, 2018

We have all walked in to a home at some time or other and it has felt 'flat' and soulless, and yet experienced the complete opposite when some front doors are opened and the good energy ushers you in. Occasionally this is directed by the occupants, often its the interior vibe. This is an aspect of design that few discuss, even fewer understand and yet is the MOST vital element of creating a home to relax in and is, perhaps surprisingly, not always about how much money you spend..

Some people have a gift of creating their own happy energy which transmits throughout the home, but most of us have to work a little harder at creating good vibes. Understanding how we respond on a human level to our surroundings is key to creating a home with a good energy. There are several underlying factors that we, as humans, look to for our survival. We might have developed beyond the need for a settlement next to a river, a nearby food supply and an open fire some centuries ago, but these primeval desires still inform how we feel at the deepest level.

“Have you ever stopped to wonder why we are drawn to certain tables in a restaurant or feel more comfortable in one location than another? The desire to be sat at a window to be close to sunlight during daylight hours, or to have a wall behind us for protection during the evening, are archaic, unconscious factors affecting our ability to relax."

So if your home doesn't project a happy energy, what can be done to ensure a welcoming environment where people choose to gravitate?

Maximise daylight

There's no doubt we are naturally drawn to the light and if we were to ask an Estate Agent, I'd bet good money on the light levels being the first thing people comment on when looking around a potential property... "ooh isn't it lovely and light." Maximising the available natural daylight into our homes can make a marked difference to the energy levels experienced. Try these to up your light levels and good energy:

1 Minimise the amount of texture around the window. Texture absorbs light so choosing woodslat blinds over curtains or solid flooring over carpet will make a massive difference to internal light levels.

2 Use reflective surfaces and mirrors to bounce light around the room.

3 Consider the exterior of the property. Are overhanging trees or overgrown foliage under the windows limiting the daylight entering the property?

4 Keep your colour palette cool and light

5 Clean the windows! I know, I know.. sounds obvious right, but its amazing how much more light we gain after a quick window polish...

Extra large natural cowhide by Nordic House

Choose colour wisely

Surprisingly, to create a warm environment you DON"T have to choose a warm colour palette. Some of my most successful schemes have been based on a cool colour palette that I have lavished with texture and beautiful lighting to bring it to life. Red is renowned for evoking feelings of anger and anxiety.. not ideal in the home and not a positive contribution to the happy vibe! That said, the current trend for very dark/near black interiors ( LOVELY and more on those in a blog to come) need to be injected with energy in the form of a fiery accent colour or natural greenery (see more on that below). As red draws the eye over any other colour, a small amount in an area that needs a lift works very successfully.

Now I'm not averse to colour, but sometimes I feel people choose colour for colour's sake in their homes. That said, beige and magnolia are probably the worst offenders when it comes to mood-hoovering. Be aware how a particular colour/shade makes you feel before committing to a decorating scheme.

Keep an eye out for my colour psychology unit in the Interior Design Course to learn more about how colour can affect energy and mood.

Glam Rock Cushion by Rockett St George

Fire and candlelight

Harking back to our primeval desires, everyone loves a real fire and the option to have an open fire or woodburning stove should be taken where achievable if you want to achieve the cosiest energy in your home. Where fire isn't an option, candlelight is a good alternative. During the Autumn and Winter I dim the lights and light a dozen candles or more every evening around my home to replace the lack of sunlight energy we miss at these times of the year. It's not everyone's vibe to live in a dimmed environment, but I personally find it very difficult to relax in a home brightly lit of an evening and goodness knows, our eyes need the rest after looking at screens all day..


I'm afraid this is one aspect of interior design I bang on about incessantly.. but for good reason. Lighting is VITAL to producing a pleasing environment and can make or break an otherwise well-planned scheme. Think dental surgery, or in recent years those ghastly low-energy bulbs that all the energy suppliers sent to homes for free some years ago. Whilst it is essential we move to energy efficient lighting sources, the quality of light given off by cheap LED bulbs and poor positioning of fittings can kill the atmosphere in a room. I will be writing an entire section on lighting on the Interior Design Course, but here's a few pointers:

1 Think 'layering' - One pendant light in the middle of the room will cast an unflattering light and shadowy corners. Think of your fittings as illuminating the floor level, mid and highest level of the room to maximise the feeling of space and avoid dark areas.

2 Use dimmers to produce softened effects and a flexible scheme that is light enough when conducting tasks and softened, gentle light in the evening.

3 You don't need to fill your ceiling with downlights. Back to the dental surgery look again..Use downlights as a LAST RESORT where other fittings won't be enough to light a task area.

4 Choose warm lamplight 2700K to 2400K for a cosy ambience.

Jordaan Hanging Lamps by Oka

Photo via John Cullen Lighting

Warm Metallics

Adding warm metallics, gold, brass or copper to a scheme is a sure-fire way to inject energy and create a happy and sexy atmosphere. As one of the key trends this year, its impossible not to bump into stunning pieces to adorn your home, lift a dark corner and reflect warm light.

Midas Side Table by Rockett St George


There has been much written about the psychology of de-cluttering and there is strong evidence that an untidy home affects our wellbeing and enjoyment of the home. Piles of paperwork, untidied toys etc are all just reminders of 'things to do' and if not put away it becomes almost impossible to fully relax as they wink at you from the corner. Trust me on this one, there is no greater contributor to a happy home than a tidy, organised space.

Natural greenery

Bringing life into your home, whether a pet or a pot-plant, will add its own natural energy to the space. Plants (a little easier to look after than pets..) will instantly lift an otherwise dull room harnessing sunlight and emitting good feels, particularly effective if used on a large scale or in groups. If any are turning yellow/brown, remove them immediately or it will have the opposite effect of creating a good energy as it sits there dying in the corner...

If its meant to be squishy..

There's nothing quite as 'uninviting' as saggy old cushions that look like they had the life thrashed out of them years ago, or worse the fillings have turned into what feels like crumpled-up bus tickets. This is a non-negotiable as far as I'm concerned in achieving comfort and a welcoming vibe. It just shows you care! Replace or re-fill sofa seat-cushions if they have seen better days and choose a plumptious inner for cushions ensuring they look neither half-empty nor over-stuffed and solid.

As a personal sanctuary and escape, the bedroom is the ultimate place in the house where a good energy should abound. The bed should be brimming with comfort with the best 'pouffy' bedding, plump cushions and quality bedding you can afford (clean and stain-free for goodness sake!). I always recommend an upholstered headboard and a cosy throw to amp up the comfort and joy-factor.

Linen Bedlinen by Soak and Sleep

Think porosity - natural v manmade surfaces

There's good reason my favourite interior style incorporates mostly natural and organic materials over man-made. Natural finishes are warmer to the touch and their porosity produces a softer ambience. Take man-made tiles over marble or limestone for example; ceramic and porcelain have a tight surface structure (making them practical and durable) but they will be cold to the touch and appear 'hard'. Natural stone (with the exception of polished granite) has a more 'open' surface structure allowing them to take on the ambient temperature of the room and producing an overall 'softer' feel. Similarly, gloss surfaces that reflect light appear more clinical and austere than matt which, by virtue of absorbing light, softens the look. Whenever I'm designing a contemporary kitchen for someone who loves the look of gloss cabinets, I will always suggest combining with matt materials and natural timber surfaces, or a natural stone floor to avoid the 'cold European' and soulless feel.

Good design and creating a good and happy energy in the home is all in the balance of light and shade, materials, functionality and satisfying the desires that sit deep within.

Mixed materials kitchen by Bert and May

It might seem daunting to have so much to think about when considering a new decorating scheme or improve an existing one, but its all just about paying attention to how each element makes you feel. There is so much I could write on this topic, and no doubt I will in the future! If you have any questions do post them as comments and I'll answer as soon as I can.

Julia x

#goodenergy #interiordesign #interiors #relaxedhome #interiordesigncourse #gooddesign #happyhome

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