Home improvement is mood improvement (if you’re doing it right)

The ‘70s revival look for 2024


Trends in 2024 – dopamine decorating

Trends in home decor, renovation, and even home choices for buyers and renters, follow cycles, as all style considerations do. In the current age of instant information, changes in these trends come more frequently. Whereas before, a design trend might characterize at least an entire decade (the ‘60s look, or the ‘70s look), now design trends can change in a single year. By understanding the pendulum nature of humans’ tastes and opinions, you can even predict fairly well how they’re going to trend.
For instance, in the last five or so years, looking at just kitchen aesthetics, we went from stark white and angular shapes, to pastel or bright colors and something called “cottagecore,” to the current trend, which is more luxurious, urban, “old money” and – joy of joys – personalized. (Yes, in the days of peak minimalism, it was a faux pas to have too much personality showing. Thank heaven we’re past that now.)
As you no doubt know, Marie Kondo and her acolytes kicked off the minimalism trend about a decade ago. It had a long tenure, but maximalism and the various “-core” aesthetics came as a reaction. One thing survived, though: “Does it spark joy?” (Kondo’s guidewords to making decisions on what to keep around when you’re minimalizing.) Add in “hygge” and other old-world ideas about pleasure, and now we have what Nice News and a few other media outlets have dubbed “dopamine decorating.” It’s all about pleasure now.

Colored concrete walls in a bathroom

The elements of mood improvement (indoors)

The consensus list of mood-enhancing elements of home decor comes down to:
We’ll expand on each of those elements. Implementing them all will require some homework to discern what works for you, and for this, Nice News recommends a practice they call “joyspotting.” Be alert to what “sparks joy” or lifts your mood in public and private spaces. If you have a spot, at home or away, where you magically feel happier and more at ease, try to discern what it is about this spot. That is joyspotting.
“Welcoming” is all about your front entrance, or any entrance to your home. Instead of making it strictly utilitarian, pay attention to the look and feel of your entryway. This might be the place to put a lush plant, a large and beautiful piece of art, or some personal thing that welcomes in visitors and makes you happy to come home.

Doormat with a William Morris design makes a welcoming entryway.

Colors should be chosen by what makes you feel good, not what’s popular or safe. Bright colors are more mood-lifting for most people, but if pastels do it for you, go with them. A light study of Ayurvedic doshas, and knowing what your own dominant dosha is, can guide you here. For instance, I have a dominant pitta dosha, which is associated with heat and energy, and cool colors like blue, soft green or violet help me to relax and chill. Other people need heat and energy, even in the summer, so they might choose warm colors like turmeric, apricot or pink.
In 2023, the fashion for wall colors swung away from the dictatorial white shades, and color started coming back, even more so in 2024. For wall surfaces, the watchword is anything but drywall, any color you like. Colored concrete is being used for bathroom walls. Wallpaper is back in fashion. Ceramic tile is still popular, this year in smooth, regular squares with lots of color. Even paneling and wainscoting are being explored as part of the “old money” look of luxury.
Lighting is known as a major mood enhancer, so much so that light therapy is a thing. Go for natural light from the sun when that is available, and have full spectrum lighting available for when it’s gloomy. Softer lighting with more red tones than blue can be used in the evening to wind down and prepare for sleep.

A bathroom design using the ‘old money’ look, plus curves, plants and natural light

Curves are very popular in 2024. Curved surfaces are not only mentally comforting, but they are also physically less threatening than sharp corners and stiff, uncomfortable chairs. The principles of hygge call for soft, curved surfaces, plump cushions, velvety throws, and tactile fabrics. Curved doorway arches and furniture with curved edges are also great.
Scents are very personal. I prefer none at all, unless it’s the smell of freshly baked bread or good food. But I do like to use a diffuser/humidifier with natural essential oils, and this is also popular in house staging, and a big improvement on plug-in fake scents. (Those things are evil.) Choose your cleaning and personal care products to be either fragrance-free, or with a natural fragrance that is harmonious with your other decor.
Plants, living ones, can not only lift your mood, but actually purify the air.

Comfortable and eco-friendly cork flooring is one option for living areas.

Some plants also impart a scent and can be part of that element. Living plants are best, but only if they are healthy. Fake plants should be as real in both appearance and feel as possible. And they don’t purify the air. In addition to potted plants, bring cut flowers into your space for an extra mood boost. Nice News recommends pothos, snake plant, peace lily, spider plant, and rubber tree plant as robust, easy-care choices.
Tidiness means different things to different people. But even maximalists feel better if their collections are curated and organized. Pay attention to more than just physical clutter; mental clutter is a real thing. Paperwork should be hidden away. Instead of a random collection of photos and small artwork, choose a small number of the very happiest of memories to frame in a photo. Or even better, get one of those digital photo-frames where you have hundreds of photos in one frame. (I have an Aura, a gift from a kid, and I love it.) Digital devices no longer make for good decor. Keep your big computer in a separate area from where you relax and have guests, and especially from where you cook and eat.

A guide to the now-legal-in-Minnesota practice of growing your own cannabis out of doors

In and out of style in 2024

What’s in style this year? Jewel-tone paint colors, especially blues and greens, bold wallpaper, back-to-classics (the old money look), statement rugs, fluted detailing, soft, rounded furniture, ‘60s and ‘70s influences (baskets, wicker, posters), and mudroom/laundry combinations.
What’s out of style? All-white kitchens, all-white bathrooms, hard, shiny surfaces, black kitchen appliances, wooden word signs, open shelves in the kitchen or bathroom, sliding barn doors, gold hardware, neutral gray paint everywhere, and backless benches for dining tables.

The elements of mood improvement (outdoors)

This year, Minnesota joined the growing list of states that allow homegrown marijuana to flourish openly in your garden. Years of prohibition have given many people the false idea that good weed can only be produced indoors with grow lights. People are hungry for information on growing recreational or medicinal cannabis in the garden, where it naturally belongs. Johanna Silver, a writer for Sunset magazine, has come to the rescue with her latest book, “Growing Weed in the Garden.”

A few resources

Go joyspotting at the Parade of Homes. Full schedule at www.paradeofhomes.org/dates-hours.
Learn about Ayurveda: www.healthline.com/nutrition/vata-dosha-pitta-dosha-kapha-dosha.
Get houseplants and advice about them at twincitiesmom.com/local-plant-shops.
Look at the colors of 2024 from major paint companies: archive.ph/9r1QS.

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