Design For Happiness

Find your happy place with the right design, whether it's a roomful of grandma's hand-me-downs or a minimal retreat.

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Hide CaptionShow CaptionWhy color? Studies do show that color can affect mood. Most people would say that it’s tough to stay glum in a cheery colorful room. But many designers who’re turning to color are doing so because it has personality, that certain something that helps create an ambiance.
For maximum happiness, crank up the color. That seems to be the refrain of a group of New York designers, including Alexandra Stoddard, Jamie Drake and the Diamond Baratta Design firm, who believe that a color-saturated environment can lift spirits.

This current color craze may be a reaction to years of stark modern (some say bland) design or an antidote to stressful times of war and terror. In any case, not all colors appeal to all people, of course. To find your "happy" colors, check out’s My Color Central, an interactive primer on color, mood and mixing hues. You might also peek into your closet. If you feel at your best when you put on that blue cashmere V-neck, try it on the walls at home, too, says designer McCauley.

On the other hand, if too much color gives you a headache (it has been proven that yellow, for instance, can be irritating), you can use it sparingly in accents and accessories — or not at all. Kristan Cunningham, who spreads color (and happiness) liberally on HGTV’s Design on a Dime, finds peace at the end of her busy days in an all-white house. "I want to come home to something relaxing," she says.

The lesson: In the end, some people find renewal in neutrals, others in the stimulating tones. It all boils down to Alain de Botton’s advice: know thyself.

Room design by Shelly Riehl David. Photograph by Roy Quesada.

Anne Krueger is’s design scout, always on the lookout for what’s in, what’s up and what’s out there.