“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.” T.S. Eliot
Color, design, and placement of décor have much deeper of an impact on us than surface appeal.
A new science, called Neuro-Architecture, is our modern way of looking at life from the ancient and natural Feng Shui perspective. To me it only matters that we take the time to learn to view and adapt the human experience of space to fulfill the purpose of the room. With knowledge of line, shape, color and “just paint” used artfully will dramatically change the architecture of a room where its occupants can begin to thrive.
Everything matters — Purpose, proportion, line, shape, nature and full-spectrum light and color.
Myriad research and a new field, Neuro-architecture, explores how one’s environment can be a trigger for hormones that either promote happiness and calm or add stress and anxiety. More than a marketing spin, Neuroarchitecture, at its most basic, looks at how we and our spaces are wired for success. (See Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture.) In another post, we’ll look at how full-spectrum light and full-spectrum color create a healthier human experience.
How space affects behavior
In one study showing the connection between our minds and our habitats, Professor Joan Meyers-Levy of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management studies the effect space has on purchasing behavior. [“The Influence of Ceiling Height: The Effect of Priming on the Type of Processing People Use,” Journal of Consumer Research, August 2007]
Any scientist will tell you energy expands to fill the space allotted and this is no different for humans in their environments. In our public buildings, offices and as well in our homes, our perception is stretched or compressed due to our brain’s interpretation of the walls.
High ceilings, for instance, activate sections of the right brain associated with freedom and abstract thinking. In low-ceilinged rooms, thought is more constrained.*
Too much space will create ungrounded-ness, lack of intimacy, inability to focus on details, we will not stay in those spaces very long, after a while feeling too expanded and pulled out of our center (think of the expansive feeling of a symphony hall, a large library or a beautiful church). We will seek to balance ourselves by moving innately to another realm, however easily [leaving the room] or painfully [quitting the job, divorcing your spouse, etc.] it will occur or create illness. Ancient Chinese saying: “the bigger the bedroom, the higher the divorce rate” is one example of the expansive area pulls us away from intimacy.
Too little space will cramp us, make us sleepy, lethargic, overly detail-oriented, stunt growth opportunities, and basically “cramp our style.”
Feng Shui is an ancient science studying how spaces will assist humans to revert to an experience of health fostered by being in balance. Spaces out of alignment with our goals creates tension, disharmony, and dis-ease.
It is important to use all the rooms of your home, and with use of color to define architecture, rather than follow it we can design rooms to fully foster the proper purpose of the room and honor our human “animal-body” wisdom to move in rhythm with our needs.
By scientifically defining how aspects of architecture can influence the way we live, breathe and relate, Neuro-Architecture provides right-brained proof for the ancient wisdom. Either way using this knowledge allows us to go deeper into the synergy between human and space, both affecting each other, hopefully providing positive results.
Ceilings affect our thinking and creativity
To the Rescue: How’s and How To’s Suggestions and tips for raising or lowering your ceilings.
Raise the ceiling to create expansion, vision and ideas
As much as you may want high ceilings in certain rooms, it may not be in the budget to ‘raise the roof.” Ceiling height affects ability, mood and intimacy and is best to be relative to the activity you’d like to have occur. High ceilings in the bedroom will decrease the ability to be intimate and the Chinese know, “The bigger the bedroom, the higher the divorce rater.”
•Paint your ceiling a soft, receding blue/grey, like one of these colors:
◦PPG Pittsburgh/Porter’s 348-2 Stratosphere
◦PPG Atmospheric Collection ATC-62 Winter’s Breath.
◦I also love Donald Kaufman Color DKC-44
◦Farrow & Ball’s Borrowed Light (No. 235) or Skylight (No 205) or Parma Gray (No. 27)
•Paint the wall and the ceiling the same color. Our eye and brain read edges to create a picture for us to recognize.
No difference in color means “no edge” to read and our brain then looks quickly for something else to define the space and create a picture for us. Don’t be afraid, just because the can says “ceiling white” doesn’t mean you have to have a ceiling that is white.
• Add upward directed lighting by using touchier or sconce lights.
Lower the ceiling to create intimacy, nourishment, sleep and detail awareness
To effectively ‘lower’ the ceiling, you can determine a height that is of ‘human scale’ [depending on how tall you are, somewhere between 8 and 10 feet will do nicely] but remember to look at the entire wall height and room because proportion is as important as perception. You can ‘draw the line’ in a number of ways:
•Align the window treatments and large artwork so that the upper edge effectively creates a line around the room.
•Use a ‘Block of Color’ to create the ceiling height.
◦This is one way to get some rich color into your spaces without fully committing to an entire wall or room (once your risk it however, you will be enthralled by living with color.)
◦If you have smaller artwork or pieces you love, highlight them or architectural features with a block of color that stops at the height where you would like to draw the ceiling.
•Around the perimeter of the rooms, use crown molding to draw a perceivable line a distance from the ceiling; paint the upper portion of the wall the same color as the ceiling. You can paint the molding an accent color or stain or the same color as the upper wall and ceiling.
•Painting a ceiling a very dark color will not always make it seem lower, a deep black can make it recede even further, depending on how you treat the space where the ceiling meets the wall.
Our architectural resources expand exponentially and our ability to positively impact human interaction and lives when we look at our spaces through the Ancient science of Feng Shui, which makes the old adage almost true, “There are only two professions, Architecture and Physician.”