I recently got an exciting opportunity to work on a project to measure happiness in the home. I jumped at the chance, as it would involve promoting the well being boosting benefits of improving your home and creating a space that works on every level for all the family. Leading the research was new bank on the block Ikano. Ever heard of them? Well I hadn’t but they are the latest import from that ‘all things happy’ place called Sweden. The Swedes are renowned for all things simple and sensible, not forgetting their clever affordable flat pack furniture solutions. So my ears were well and truly pricked.
So one of Ikano’s biggest areas of business is affordable finance for home improvements and they were interested to find out how happiness in the home could be measured by good interior design. This felt to me quite a significant step away from the well-worn mantra that investing money in your home is for the purpose of increasing resale value. Sarah Beeney is my nemesis on this subject and I’m trilled to see the tables are turning away from the beige and the bland and towards investing your time and money in creating a home rather than a financial asset.
In the UK wide survey of more than 4,000 adults, the bank found that 75 percent of people who have invested in home improvements feel happy and content. This group is also 73 percent more likely to invite friends over for dinner and 33 percent more likely to want to spend more time at home in the evening. Over a quarter cited clutter as the main bug bare ahead of washing up and family members spending too much time glued to screens.
Creating a happy home also seems to me to have close ties with spending time together. Myself and Happiness expert Carole-Anne Rice were invited to work with the Snooks who are a gorgeous family of five who had recently moved and were keen to create a new family home. It was already concerning the parents that the girls would quite often disappear to different parts of the house, rather than spend time together. Having a nice communal space was high up on their wish list. The conservatory was highlighted as a wasted space that could be transformed into a family room. Conservatories generally are a real wasted opportunity. I know because I have one- too hot in summer and too cold in the winter. But there is now quite a trade in converting them into garden rooms by replacing the glass roof with an insulated solid one. So now less of a conservatory and more of a garden room.
Garden rooms are also one of my favourite rooms to design as they make a transition from the main house to the garden so as such I think it’s really lovely to play on this idea. Green is a great colour to promote wellbeing and I like to introduce an element if it in all my schemes- even if it’s a simple pot plant.
But green isn’t the only happy colour.
The Ikano survey found that from the 4000 people canvassed the following colours were considered the happiest; Blue, white and yellow.
So blue, as backed up by Colour Psychology, is calming and tranquil but from an interior design point of view can be tricky as it can feel cold- which isn’t conclusive to happiness! So for the Snooks it has been used as an accent colour. Next up white, again a popular choice for interiors as people associate it with light as well as cleanliness and freshness. But again in terms I interior design approach with caution! Pure white has a lot of blue pigment in it so again can feel harsh, stark or chilly. Best go for one of the designer off whites, which is what’s been chosen here. The floral wallpaper then picks up on the colour story and also makes that nice nod to the garden theme.
Another key element that came out of the research was about the importance of spending time together with regards to our sense of happiness. And family members being glued to screens also got thrown up as one of the biggest sources of augments. The Snooks had a big list of asks for their new garden room. Somewhere for the girls to play together, but with the age gap there had to be a place for young Ruby to play dolls alongside the older girls need for their play station. Then there was Mum and Dad wanting a nice quite corner for reading or enjoying a glass of wine in the evening. And another key element for this family was the opportunity to entertain as they often had family and friends over. That was achieved with a folding table and chairs, which could then be easily stored away in the garden shed when not in use.
My key points for the makeover included:
This whole project cost £9K, but with the average cost of moving house (expenses including fees and stamp duty, ) £8,451.59, then it makes sense to avoid the stress and stay put. With building costs taking up the lions share of this budget it’s once again really important to be a savvy shopper when it comes to the decoration. This is where I think colour and pattern can be a real game changer as you appear to get more for your money. The choice of patterned wallpaper and bold geomtric prints created a visually impactful transformation. For the full reveal check out this little video. And please let me know in the comments below your ideas on how to make a happy home!