Can home decor impact our wellbeing?

Are you a Netflix binger? Hands up if you've stayed up until 1am on a Sunday night watching episode after episode of the most random series after mumbling to yourself 'last one...' about 12 times but somehow unable to click 'exit'... Don't be embarrassed, we've all been there, done that and got the t-shirt. And while we're at it, let's not pretend here, I don't usually watch the most intellectual, brain-enhancing stuff on Netflix, and what's usually in My List is a random selection of American rom-coms, obscure 90's movies, comedy series, or anything that can take the edge off on a school night after a long day... Recently, however, I have watched two documentaries on Netflix that have literally changed my life... Ok that's a bit dramatic, but I am only exaggerating just a tiny bit here as I have almost had a mini-epiphany after shutting down the iPad after wartching both. 

The first one is probably one of the most brilliant series on Netflix at the moment - 'Abstract: The Art of Design' - which includes 8 documentaries following 8 visionary designers across a variety of disciplines. Design documentaries are not usually know for being particularly enthralling and if you're not a design nerd you usually start yawning after the credits. This series is basically the total opposite and has been incredibly well produced, and features some of the most fascinating personalities of the design world... The last episode of the series (which I watched first, obvs) is all about interior design and follows one of the most influential women in the industry - Ilse Crawford. If you're into your interiors you probably already know who this genius of a lady is. If not, let me give you an edit of her ridiculously enviable biog: founding editor of Elle Decoration UK; interior design goddess who designed and kitted out Soho House and Babington House from scratch; brains behind what is probably the most successful collaboration to date with IKEA (that SINNERLIG bamboo pendant light you probably have hanging in your living room? Yep, that's her) and as if all this wasn't enough; founder of Studio Ilse which have not only designed some of the most incredible interiors on the planet but also have their own collection of furniture and accessories made in house... As you can tell, this has gone way beyond a hashtag girl crush. 

One of the stunning spaces designed by Ilse Crawford: green on black, a match made in heaven ( Photography: Studio Ilse)

One of the stunning spaces designed by Ilse Crawford: green on black, a match made in heaven (Photography: Studio Ilse)

Anyways, Ilse Crawford's raison d'être goes further than just beautiful interiors but is about the impact interior design has on how we feel and how we live. The documentary itself is a brilliantly directed 'behind the scenes' style film that follows her through the process of designing spaces and furniture with her team. There is something she says at the beginning that really stuck with me: 'interior design has for ages been treated like the slightly sillier side to design, and is now finally being taken seriously'. Furnishing a home is not just this frivolous, superficial hobby reserved to the wealthy and spoiled of this world. Creating a beautiful space to live in is now seen as important for your well-being than, say, healthy eating. And that can be achieved by looking at what people need first before even looking at the space. What new age interiors are about is designing homes and buildings that help people feel happy and their most creative in. 

My beloved cork dining table, designed by Ilse Crawford for IKEA in my recently revamped dining room...  (Photography:  Karen Wandrag @DesignK )

My beloved cork dining table, designed by Ilse Crawford for IKEA in my recently revamped dining room... (Photography: Karen Wandrag @DesignK)

And that's when my epiphany took place... I have suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember. It stems from a chaotic childhood, I have had therapy, I know the drill, I just get on with it. It's usually manageable (I have a very, very patient and chilled husband...) and I can get myself out of an anxious episode pretty quickly thanks to a few techniques (usually involving, in no particular order, a quick cry, a break from my phone, a walk on the beach, a new fresh to-do list, a play with my daughter, a faffing session around the house or a chinwag with a trusted friend). Sometimes though an anxiety episode can take me to a place so far into self-doubt and utterly irrational panic, that it becomes totally paralysing (physically and emotionally) and that it can often take me an entire day and a number of sleepless nights to get out of the anxiety funk. Bad habits of daily routines usually don't help and can even be actual triggers (I am looking at you instagram stories! And damn you evil comparison syndrome!) so I have to have a chat with myself regularly and simply regroup (more to-do lists...) on what I have achieved so far to try and keep anxiety levels to a minimum... for the sake of everyone's sanity. 

Recently though, I have felt much less anxious than usual. I couldn't really explain why to a friend who was asking how I was feeling the other day but I kind of realised the past few weeks have been ridiculously busy, yes, but without the totally overwhelming and paralysing feeling that usually comes with having a lot on my plate. I have been trying to analyse exactly what has happened in the past few weeks that could have helped my brain to refrain from going into mind racing mode and one thing popped up... I have almost finished kitting out my house in Dubai. Up until now, the only room that was actually completely furnished was Stella's room. I know social media makes it look like I have my sh*t together but the reality is usually different. Instagram squares are a wonderful thing and can give you an false idea of perfection but trust me when I say that the rest of the house has felt (until now) like the longest work in progress in the history of projects with absolutely no end in sight... I should stop here to say, I am aware that this definitely falls into the 'first world problem' category considering the cr*p that is going on in the rest of the world but bear with me while I try, clumsily to explain where I am going with this. 

Some personalities, like mine, are massively impacted by their environment. What surrounds us can make us feel deliriously happy or incredibly depressed. I live and breathe home decor which obviously makes it even worse in terms of sensitivity to nice things. This is why finally living in a space that is 'me' and that looks beautiful (to me!) is making me feel incredibly settled, happy, content and bubbling with new ideas. After a weird few months of only focusing on the stuff that needed to be done/built/styled/painted/assembled/organised rather than the few things I had actually finished, I have started waking up excited for the day ahead again. I have fallen in love with my new pad all over again: I am excited rather than overwhelmed about putting the final touches to everything, I finally put my rather ecclectic gallery wall up, and repainted all the walls in various shades of grey. It's taken exactly 9 months in the end. I'll let you read whatever you want into this... 

My blog is turning two next week and I have been thinking about what made me start this adventure in the first place. Watching that documentary made me remember, it was always to help other people feel like this too - happy and content in their own space. Being by styling individual homes, finding affordable ways of adding personality to spaces, blogging about cool new products that are fun and unique, and most recently through styling workshops...  I hope you find some inspiration somewhere in all this... If any of the above resonate with you, just GET IN TOUCH! Insta-tag me, DM me, email me, or just send a bloody carrier pigeon if needed. But don't stay miserable in your space, there is always something you can do to make it feel more 'you' and make you feel happier... 

PS: The second documentary on Netflix that changed my life is The Minimalists but that will be for another blog post!