When it comes to design, you know what you like, and what you dislike. But do you know why this is?

Toby Israel believes that the deep influences of childhood experiences unconsciously shape why you are drawn to, or repelled by, certain aesthetics. If you can tap into what truly brings you joy and satisfaction then you can create truly unique and spiritually fulfilling spaces to live in.

Israel’s book Some Place Like Home, Using Design Psychology to Create Ideal Places introduces you to “the practice of architecture, planning and interior design in which psychology is the principal design tool.” She believes each of us has an “environmental biography – a treasure chest of memories and impressions of places we have lived” that gives us design with personal meaning.

In a society with classic design theories, and media telling us how spaces should look this year, we can fall into accepting “one size fits all,” homogenized environments.  But if you can access and use positive associations from your past, you will have a more focused, authentic and personalized home.



The basis of design psychology is a series of exercises in the book that help you piece together a “Design Psychology Blueprint,” which translates into your specific guidelines for space planning, colors, textures, qualities of light, furniture and so on. Exercises to create your deeply personal inventory include:

Environmental Family Tree – describe in detail important homes and places from your childhood

Environmental Time Line – an inventory of every place you’ve lived and what you liked or disliked about the home

Special Objects Inventory – which ones are special to you, and exactly why?

By unlocking your memories of past images, objects and experiences, you can get to the essence of what will make you happy in your home. And because this is your “highest positive associations,” the design will be timeless.

For instance, traditional remodeling guidelines might move you away from bright orange countertops for practical or re-sale reasons. But if design psychology exercises unlock positive memories of that color making you feel happy and loved as a child, then those bright orange countertops can bring you joy every day.

Design psychology has the potential to give you the confidence to choose personal meaning, because spirit matters far more than keeping up with the Joneses.

We recommend reading the design psychology white paper to learn more about the theory, which may lead you to explore the book. Knowledge is power, and we’re all for you having a better sense of place and happiness before calling Mosby Building Arts to start your next remodeling project.