What our brain needs
I recently chatted to Irish psychologist and neuroscientist, Dr Michael Keane about the effects our environment can have on our well-being and overall happiness. He explained that our brain is designed to keep us safe. What this means is that every day our minds are picking up on the external triggers that we are exposed to. Things like opening the front door and seeing a pile of shoes in the hall or clothes piled up at the end of the stairs, your kitchen counter covered in stuff when you need to cook. You might not necessarily intend to deal with these things straight away, but they’re building up in the back of your mind. This accumulation of unfinished tasks can lead to a feeling of stress and overwhelm. By understanding this and being aware of what these triggers are, we’re better informed about how we can design our homes to eliminate these kinds of stressors.
What we did
We had a garage that we wanted to extend over. Garage spaces tend to be very long and narrow, so they don’t make great bedrooms. What we decided to do was to incorporate the additional space that we’d gain by extending into the master bedroom. The long narrow space was used to create a walk-in wardrobe that leads to a generous master en-suite at the back of the house. We extended our box room across the front of the house to create the new master bedroom.
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The original bedroom had not been a place that was restful in any way. Storage had been an issue meaning that my clothes were being stored in the children’s bedrooms as well my own. My husband had to make do with whatever space was left over. We only had one bathroom and now that the boys were getting bigger sharing a bathroom with 3 boys was starting to take its toll.
When we really analysed how we were using the rooms, we discovered there were lots of little triggers that were having a significant impact on our day-to-day lives without us even realising.
We wanted the new master bedroom to be a calm and restful space. We sound proofed between the floor and the ceiling to make sure that sound didn’t travel from the rooms below. We also went for carpet for its extra sound-insulation properties. To control light, we chose a combination of blackout blinds, and blackout-lined the curtains.
There’s no storage in the room at all. No chest of drawers or dresser so there’s no opportunity for anything to pile up. The new bedroom is a calm and clutter-free zone designed only for sleeping.
The room I’m most excited about is ‘my’ new bathroom. For the first time, I can have a bath without having to clear out lots of toys and other bits and pieces that belong to the children.
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