Happy by design? How our homes can make us happier

Happy by design?

How our homes can make us happier

Happy by design? How our homes can make us happier - Joseph Homes

As a society, we’re paying more and more attention to the things that will bring us lasting health and happiness. We’re working out more; we’re thinking about the things we should and shouldn’t be putting into our bodies; we’re normalising conversations around mental health. And rightly so. But there’s one thing we’re not paying quite so much attention to.

Our homes. They set the scene for what we do and how we feel each and every day. Yet we’re still leaving the link between our homes and our overall happiness largely unexplored.

As Alain de Botton writes in his 2006 book, The Architecture of Happiness, our houses ‘can be accused of failing to improve the characters of those who live in them.’ Of course, there are those who’ll disagree with him, arguing that our homes aren’t responsible for improving us as people.

But this presents us with a question: what is the function of a home today? It increasingly feels like our homes should do more than simply provide shelter, safety, and a place to eat, sleep and co-habit. Today, our homes should make us happier.

Colour: Combating the Blues

In his 2018 book, Happy by Design, architect and mindfulness practitioner Ben Channon notes how ‘colour can be used to create a mood or an atmosphere at very little cost, and can even encourage socialising, evoke calmness or improve our focus.’

Here at Joseph Homes, we’re always looking into the mood-enhancing qualities of different colours and putting our findings into practice.

Take yellow, for example. Research has linked it with serotonin stimulation in the brain, meaning thoughtful use of yellow around the home is likely to increase our happiness, albeit subconsciously. And when it comes to evoking calm and relaxation, lighter shades of blue and green have been associated with these feelings, meaning they’re often put to best use in bedrooms and quieter spaces.

Getting That Natural Glow

As humans, we’re drawn to nature and open space, largely because close proximity to nature has been shown to improve our mood and reduce stress. Admittedly, most of us can’t be at one with nature all the time, but studies have found that simply being able to view greenery, water or trees from our homes can do us the world of good.

That’s why we make sure the homes we build are always close to parks, greens and other open spaces. And because our windows are much larger than those of the average new build, natural light fills the rooms, and those trees, parks and ponds are never far from sight.

Ceiling Psychology

In exploring the relationship between ceiling height and mood, Channon talks about a link between higher ceilings and a greater sense of psychological freedom. None of us like to feel as if the walls – or in this case, the ceilings – are closing in on us. When our environment is restricting or claustrophobic, our mental state tends to follow suit.

With this in mind, we make sure the majority of our ceilings are at least 2.7 metres high, exceeding the current average for new build homes. By going over and above, we’re setting up our homeowners to think bigger and feel freer.

Breathe In. Breathe Out.

We all know about the importance of breathing in clean, fresh air. Particularly in cities like London, stories around the health dangers of particulate matter and other air pollutants are increasingly common. But it’s not just about physical health. Fresh air is vital for our mental wellbeing, too.

Imagine the feeling you get from a bracing wind on your cheeks, or the simple satisfaction of a cool, gentle breeze in hot weather. Fresh air is at once calming and invigorating. And this is why it’s so important to have good natural ventilation in our homes.

We use MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) systems in every one of our homes. These systems give our homes a constant supply of clean, fresh air, while removing stale air and nasty pollutants from the atmosphere.

A recent report by Airtopia awarded our Balham development, The Tramyard, an A rating for indoor air quality. Homes at The Tramyard scored 143 out of a possible 150, indicating minimal levels of airborne pollutants, mould and damp, and a high thermal comfort rating.

On Your Doorstep

In Happy by Design, Channon explores the relationship between access to local facilities and happiness. He discusses the recent reduction in facilities like sports centres, football pitches, swimming pools and tennis courts, and the negative effect this can have on the overall wellbeing of a community.

Whenever we look at development sites, we always look at them in terms of access to local amenities and facilities. At The Tramyard, for example, our homeowners are just minutes away from Balham Leisure centre, DW Fitness First, and the athletics track, tennis courts and open-air lido on Tooting Bec Common.

For us, it’s important that it’s as easy as possible for people to take advantage of these amenities. Because when we engage with the facilities in our local communities, we don’t just feel fitter and healthier. We feel happier.

And that’s what Live Well is all about. Whether it’s the design features, the choice of colours and interiors, or the locations we choose, it’s all about building homes that make life better.

Happy by design? How our homes can make us happier - Joseph Homes Happy by design? How our homes can make us happier - Joseph Homes Happy by design? How our homes can make us happier - Joseph Homes
Happy by design? How our homes can make us happier - Joseph Homes Happy by design? How our homes can make us happier - Joseph Homes Happy by design? How our homes can make us happier - Joseph Homes
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