How our homes are the gateway to happiness – and the interior designer in Newcastle you need to meet
Carole Crowe is the Newcastle interior designer using positive décor to improve our mental health.
We’ve all heard it said more than a few times: home is where the heart is. Or, at least, it should be.
It turns out that – whether this be due to work commitments or a busy family life, an enviable social status or simply a lack of motivation – more and more of us are putting that home renovation project on the backburner. And it’s affecting our mental health.
The good news is, hope is not lost. Because, if you need a little help, support, some cheeky trade discounts or simply a little inspiration with your décor, then we know just the Newcastle-based interior designer to come to your rescue: Carole Crowe.
Having dedicated her career to creating authentic interiors as unique as you, Carole utilises the experience and training she’s gained as a counsellor to delve into what your home really means to you: how it can reflect your personal memories and aspirations, why the energy within it should flow in a certain direction, and how your home should function so that you can live your life as positively, painlessly and proactively as possible.
We chat to Carole about how much our homes really impact our happiness, and what her interior design secrets are for 2022 and beyond…
Image credit: Ian McClelland
Your approach to interior design is a little different – tell us how interior design meets mental health for you?
Did you know that our homes are one of the biggest contributors to our overall happiness? The GoodHome Report (2019) found that our homes account for 15% of our total happiness, making them slightly more important than our general health and fitness at 14%, and significantly more than what we earn (6%) or the job we do (3%).
The study found that no matter where we live or how big our house is, our homes drive five core emotional needs: pride, identity, comfort, safety and control. So, when you feel your home falls short, it naturally has a negative impact on your wellbeing.
How did that research resonate with you, as an interior designer?
Having dealt with mental heath issues myself, it made me realise how important our homes are and how big of a part they play in our lives. Our home should be the space where we recognise ourselves, our safe haven; it should be the space that reflects every part of us, where we can entertain, relax, work and truly be ourselves. When it isn’t that space, we subconsciously know and, without realising, can allow it to negatively impact our mental health.
If you want a positive personal change of any sort, you need to think about the impact your environment is having on you. We all need homes that support rather than undermine our wellbeing. When your home reflects who you really are, the feeling is amazing – your shoulders relax when you walk through the door and you feel safe and comforted. When interior design is done right, the results are astounding and that’s why I love doing what I do.
We’re guessing that focusing on our interiors to improve our mental health doesn’t necessarily mean jumping on the latest design trends…
You are correct! Trends come and go, but your home doesn’t, so I always recommend designing from the heart. I take a holistic approach when designing interiors and I’m always driven by my clients. It’s my job to really question their motivations, so that I can establish what it is they aren’t saying, too.
Interior design is so personal but, as a trained counsellor, I’ve always been able to tap into a person’s psyche and get a handle on what they would enjoy creatively. I like to get to know my clients, really get under their skin, and try and create a home environment which reflects their lives: what they enjoy and who they really are.
And how does the functionality of our interiors – as well as their aesthetics – work to improve our sense of wellbeing?
I really focus on considered living, as clutter is the arch-enemy of the restful home! Clutter stops the flow of positive energy. Think about what it’s like when you try and use something that’s broken: it’s so frustrating. The same applies with your home. If it doesn’t function properly and it’s full of clutter, imagine the stress that will bring on your daily life, all without you realising it.
Making sure that your home functions well for your life by properly arranging the things in it means energy can positively flow around your home. You’ll feel happier because your life is easier: everything has a place and you have room to breathe.
This goes hand-in-hand with using sustainable products, as well as utilising old furniture – especially those pieces that have been handed down. It’s amazing what a refresh can do to furniture, while also keeping it out of landfill.
You’re all about creating interiors as unique as your customers. How do you go about injecting the personality of your clients into your designs?
I like to think working with my clients is like going on a journey together and, in doing so, we’ll create spaces that tantalise the senses and excite – giving their guests those ‘wow’ moments as they walk in.
The first part of that journey is the design consultation. This is the most important stage, as the output of this drives the whole design. Imagine it being like a research project, where I interview the client, observe and challenge. This consultation basically tells the client’s story, as it focuses on how they want to feel in the space, what they want the space to say about them, how they want their guests to feel, where their favourite place in the home is and why, and what their favourite memories are. It’s an interesting process and can sometimes reveal things to the clients that they didn’t even realise.
No matter how big or small my project is, it’s always important to conduct my research. If you’re planning on working through your whole house over time its always best to do the research on the full house as opposed to room by room, to ensure that each of my schemes will flow and create a cohesive feel throughout the home. Once I have all the information I need, I create concepts for each room I’m working on.
Creating a sense of the client through my designs is all about thinking beyond the visual: it’s about how the client wants to feel. When you design rooms around an emotion, you create the home of your dreams. Everything you select, from the furnishings to the objects, should tell a story. That’s why I’m passionate about getting to know my clients as, often, it’s the small things that have the most impact. It’s those sentimental pieces – the ones people have collected from far-off travels or things kids have made, furniture that’s been handed down within a family – that brings my clients the most comfort.
What are some of your all-time favourite interiors trends or styles?
One of the main things that inspires me is nature. I haven’t found a person who doesn’t want to feel connected with the natural world. I’m really passionate about Biophilic design, which makes that connection to bring the outside in. I love this juxtaposed with clean lines and opulent items, patterns or textures to create a scheme with layers and a feeling of drama and sophistication.
I also love using my photography background to light rooms like a film set. This then allows the client to create different moods depending on what they’re doing at any given time and helps to create a layered scheme which tells the client’s story.
What would be your advice to any of our readers who want to inject a little more personality into their interiors?
Stick to what pleases you and buy from the heart, rather than following trends. Focus on how your home feels and remember you’re expressing your personality, so trust your instincts and don’t seek approval from others. Start by getting rid of clutter – and I mean everything! A good rule of thumb is, if you haven’t used it in the last two years, you simply don’t need it, either gift it to a friend or charity. Once the clutter has gone, re-organise your space: make sure things that aren’t used very often are stored away and that everything has a place.
Once you’ve done that, ask yourself: can you move freely in your rooms? Does each room feel calm? If the answers are no, get creative, rearrange some furniture, and try new layouts. It can sometimes be like designing a whole new room, without the expense! Whatever you decide, your goal should be to create a space that is full of things you love and which all tell your story.
To find out more about how Carole can transform your interiors and help you achieve a greater sense of wellbeing through your home, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.