It's a hoot, finding one's self

How we decorate can offer a window to the soul, Stephanie Anderson writes

The eyes are often cited as the window to the soul, but I think a person's home is another good reflection of what's going on inside their head.

I have one friend, for example, whose narrow terrace is plastered with her collection of owls. Walking through her home is like taking a stroll inside an oversized aviary of ceramic, painted and macrame creations, but I believe this decorative theme suits its quiet, intelligent owner.

The things you collect and how you decorate could be a window to your soul.
The things you collect and how you decorate could be a window to your soul. Photo: Thinkstock.

From taxidermy to kitschy spoons with crests on the end, many people I know have taken to decorating their homes with collections, gradually becoming more upmarket as their years and pay packets increase.

I always think of these as a curious design quirk but Vivienne Lewis from the University of Canberra's Centre for Applied Psychology says there can be a variety of mental motivations behind such gathering. ''People develop attachments to certain things usually due to their emotional significance,'' she says.

''However, sometimes anxiety can be the main driver for collecting items particularly those that seemingly have no obvious emotional attachment. This is where hoarding comes in.''

Lewis says hoarding is a clinical condition of anxiety known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, where a person is highly anxious and overcomes that anxiety by keeping things in multiple quantities.

''If a person is prohibited from collecting, they feel extreme anxiety, so they keep going,'' she says.

And it's not just collections that can provide insight into a homeowner's persona, says interior designer Kim Hocking - colour choices can also reflect someone's inner self.

''Psyche and design really do go hand in hand,'' she says.

''Generally colour psychology relates to the mind, emotions and the body.''

The owner of KMH Interiors says a connection to a certain colour theme can define a homeowner as bold, confident or passionate.

''Red is a very strong colour and one which can which is very stimulating yet also aggressive,'' she says.

''Those clients of mine in Canberra who tend to like this colour are young, vibrant and bold.''

Hocking says that yellow is often chosen by creative, friendly people ''who tend to be confident and optimistic'', whereas orange is the hue of choice for those people who are intensely passionate about life. ''But the most popular choice of colour by all demographics of the Canberran population is white - white, white and more white,'' she says.

After working in the industry for almost a decade, Hocking says clients in different cities tend to have their own colour psyche.

''Canberrans prefer to use safe colours, organic colours,'' she says.

''In Sydney they're a lot braver, a lot bolder. But of course there's a lot more options when it comes to sourcing materials. Sydney and Melbourne have a lot more at hand.''

Send your property news to stephanie.anderson@canberratimes.com.au.

What's the oddest decorative theme you've ever come across? Leave a comment below.

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