Design: Create a cozy corner or decompression room to control stress

shouldn't be any dwelling, whether it's a mansion, condo or dorm room, where one doesn't have a designated space to decompress. (Shutterstock photo)

Today’s breaking news and headlines are enough to give anyone agita. In today’s hectic world, we all need a place to relax and unwind.

A way to counteract the outside world, whether at home or in the office, is to create what I call a cozy corner. There shouldn’t be any dwelling, whether it’s a mansion, condo or dorm room, where one doesn’t have a designated space to decompress. In some homes, when space is not limited, this area may take the form of a dedicated room where a yoga mat or meditation chair or a stack of pillows and a mirror to observe your poses can be permanently installed for daily use. When space is not as generous, this is where a cozy corner comes into play.

In a pre-pandemic world, I was often asked by some businesses that deal with high-stress situations to redesign an empty office into a “decompression room.” Doctors and psychologists often say that 20 minutes is enough to clear your mind from a stressful situation. This time is crucial, not for you to think about the situation or problem, but to simply relax. In these commercial settings, it is crucial to block out almost every outside noise. So, soundproofing is a must, and pipe in either white noise or soft, relaxing music, preferably without lyrics. In a residential setting, noise may be a bit more controllable, sans phones ringing or colleagues conducting business.

A comfortable place to sit or recline is necessary. I recommend using—yes, brace yourselves—a reclining chair, comfortable chair and ottoman, or chaise lounge. If reading is your refuge, then a small reading light should definitely be paired with your seating. Add a small table with a drawer to put away your eyeglasses, keys and any media device such as your phone, tablet or laptop. These should be turned off. This is your time.

It has also been proven that eliminating bright fluorescent light or daylight encourages one to let go of stressful situations. This doesn’t necessarily mean lights out and going to sleep, but rather a soft glow light that creates a soothing sensation for you. Make sure all your sources of light can be controlled to create the right ambiance.

Never underestimate the power of color to affect the look and mood of a space and the occupants. Think about the atmosphere you want … or, more importantly, the atmosphere you need. Generally, soft pastel colors are a great choice for creating a calming effect; however, darker colors that evoke nighttime, such as navy, brown or dark green, are good to create a sense of stability and serenity.

Don’t be misled into thinking that your relaxation area has to be sterile. You definitely can bring in visual interest with a printed wallcovering, perhaps even a tone-on-tone design. Adding a work of art or photograph is also a way to bring some interest into the room. I would always advise against too much color or a strident theme. Nature is always soothing to the mind, so select a beach or mountain scene, or perhaps a contemporary work of art with a simple geometric graphic or gradation of colors. Nothing loud.

Listen to your instincts, and make sure to include something in the room that you love. This is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Creating a cozy corner or a decompression room is something we all need today. Find the space; it is a necessity for your well-being and your soul.

Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida.

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