Harmonious homes make for happier families

Designing houses for self rather than wealth may transform our homes from battlegrounds to sanctuaries, according to Griffith University criminology doctoral student and interior design academic Claire Bennett.

Ms Bennett’s PhD study Domesticated Violence looks at family conflict and the role of the family home as one contributing factor.

While the issues of family conflict are complex, statistics showing that a large percentage of crime occurred in the home led Ms Bennett to combine her interior design expertise with her criminology studies to concentrate on how to minimise tension in the home.

“There are numerous home-related issues – stress of renovations, crowding, upkeep of the home, privacy issues, financial – that have been proven to lead to conflict,” she said.

Ms Bennett suggested if people considered their homes in terms of fitting in with their lifestyles, rather than as financial assets and status symbols, it could contribute to harmony within the home.

“The Australian dream is to own your own home and we tend to believe our homes reflect in some way our aspirations,” she said. “In the absence of a strict class system some people wish to demonstrate their level of success by the size and look of their home.”

Ms Bennett, who has worked as an architect, interior designer and facility manager as well as an interior design lecturer, said people were desperate to have a certain lifestyle but did not see the function of a house as a life support system which was what she believes it should be.

“We need to look at what we really need before talking to the real estate agent,” Ms Bennett said. “Interior Design at Griffith University is all about designing for the human out instead of the environment in.”

One of the probable outcomes of the research will be a set of guidelines to help people communicate better with designers/architects and real estate agents about what supports a happy life for them as individuals and families.

“People are interested in interior design and understand that their lives, either at work or home, are better in some way if their environment is harmonious but they often have no idea how to achieve it,” she said. “Interior Design professionals can really help.”

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