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British interior designer Shalini Misra
British interior designer Shalini Misra

Shalini Misra: My five rules for wellness in interior design

With the Covid-19 crisis meaning people are spending more time in their homes than ever before, the correlation between wellness and interior design has become a hot topic. The concept is nothing new to Shalini Misra, however, who has been incorporating wellness principles into her designs for many years. The London-based interior designer is one of the leading lights in the British high-end design industry – and arguably its biggest wellness champion. With her background in architecture and urban planning, Misra has a unique understanding of the psychology of design which goes far beyond presenting a picture-perfect setup. She creates spaces to promote a better lifestyle and uses considered tactics to impact the moods and emotions of her space, which range from private homes for HNWIs in London to commercial spaces across the globe.

Shalini Misra gives Effect Magazine an exclusive insight into her design philosophies by unveiling her five essential processes for achieving wellness through interior design.

An apartment designed by Shalini Misra design studio

Rule 1: Consider spatial layout carefully

“The first thing we do is look at the floor of the space and create a really good spatial layout – you don’t want to be in a space in which everything is disorganised and jarring with your sensibilities. I think this is where my architectural background helps me to understand the space and create a layout where the energy flow is right, and nothing feels cramped. It might be a cosy space, but that’s different to being disorganised and cramped. We love to have a juxtaposition of a small space in a big space, where the volumes are very different. We also like to create ‘wow’ factors that create an impact. In wellness, there’s an act of surprise when you walk into a space and think: ‘Oh my God. Amazing.’ These are all moods that we try to create through the spatial layout.”

A dining room by Shalini Misra design studio

Rule 2: Select colours to set the mood

“The second important element to consider is colours because again, colours can really jar your senses. We play with the right quantity of grey or we use blues and greens to set different moods. For instance, we use blue on the ceiling of a master bedroom because it’s calming, or we use green tiles in a walk-in shower because it reminds you of nature. So, we go into the depth of the colours we are using. It might be muted palettes with pops of colour, or it might be very interesting colours like a bright orange fridge just because it matches an artwork that’s on the wall. Colour is really important.”

A living room by Shalini Misra design studio

Rule 3: Layer your lighting

“Light is super important because whenever you walk into a door, you’re always attracted to the source of light. Sometimes it’s a beautiful chandelier; sometimes it’s a window or a big glass door. It’s not a conscious reaction but our eyes are always attracted to the source of light. So, we try to keep the lighting in different levels. Of course, we have to use ceiling down lighting because that’s task lighting, but we try to keep that to a minimum. We use big chandeliers; we use layered lighting; we add in table lamps and floor lamps to vary different heights of lighting. The colour of the bulb is also really important. We go through the whole psychology of colours. For example, we use certain lights for the night because we know that at the end of the day, it’s nice to diminish the light because it soothes your brain.”

The colour of the bulb is really important. We go through the whole psychology of colours – Shalini Misra

Rule 4: Choose sustainable materials

“Using sustainable materials can also boost wellness. I like to use as many sustainable materials as possible, such as natural woods, natural terracotta, natural cottons, linen, silks, and so on. We continuously do a lot of research. Bamboo is amazing because it grows really fast, so we like to use flooring and furniture made from this material. We love using wallpapers made from different sustainable materials like cork, corn husks etc which not only look amazing but are also sustainable. Most companies also have eco-friendly paint colours which we encourage our clients to use.”

An living space designed by Shalini Misra design studio

Rule 5: Source recycled pieces

“The other thing we love for wellness is using recycled pieces. We love vintage products and antiques because they have a certain quality and carry a lot of history. They come with a strong narrative, which we love, and they can be used in different ways for example to highlight a place or to cause interest. The other way we recycle is by using furniture that can be repainted or reupholstered. Sometimes it’s as simple as just adding a few nice vintage knobs to a piece.

If I have an option to use something which is really luxurious and is recycled, like the really amazing pieces on Effetto, I would go for that because it adds value and glamour to your house. Also, you’re not buying something new and wasting it – you’re buying something of heritage.”

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