While the world has largely gone back to “normal” since the chaos of 2020, there are a few pandemic-era things that have stuck around, and one of them is what I like to call dopamine decor. You might have heard of the fashion movement called “dopamine dressing” during the dismal months of COVID. Named after the neurotransmitter that delivers hits of happiness to the brain, it’s all about dressing in bright colors and bold patterns in an effort to consciously elevate your mood. Now, the fad has moved beyond fashion into the world of home decorating—because why exude happiness only through your clothing when you could fill your whole home with it?
After getting used to spending so much time within our four walls during those life-changing pandemic years, it makes sense that people want to incorporate this happy trend into their homes, too. If you want a constant dopamine drip when you walk in the door, consider ditching your neutral decor for this fun, eclectic trend.
What is dopamine dressing?
Fashion psychologist Dawnn Karen, a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and author of Dress Your Best Life, originally coined the term “dopamine dressing” as a catchy way to say dressing to boost your mood. In an interview with Byrdie, she described the dopamine boost we get from “wearing something crazy, whimsical stuff that doesn’t match, polka dot or leopard print, tutus, or bright colors.”
Like many trends of the modern world, dopamine dressing reached mega-popularity status through social media, especially Instagram and TikTok. Fashion influencers were quick to implement the fad into their feeds, and home bloggers and designers were eager to put their own spin on the concept. Thus, the trend migrated into the home decor sphere to give us dopamine decor.
Does it really make you happier?
Dopamine decor sounds cute and all, but does it *actually* make a difference in your mood? According to a variety of experts, the answer may be yes. As psychologist and well-being consultant Lee Chambers told Real Homes, “Using intense and bold colors in our spaces can generate physiological and psychological responses, and they also have the power to trigger nostalgia and bring back positive experiences.”
Momtaz Begum-Hossain, a color theorist and author of Hello Rainbow: Finding Happiness in Colour, further explained the mental and emotional effect of color in an interview with Cosmopolitan. “There is more to color than being an aesthetic. It’s a powerful energy source that can impact our feelings, mood, and emotions,” she said. “There is no limit to the uplifting and positive effects we get from color; it’s almost like a natural high.”
How to use dopamine decor in your home
Now that you know it’s legit and not just some fleeting trend, I’m sure you’re wondering how to incorporate dopamine decor into your own space. This may be different for everyone—ultimately, you want to focus on patterns, prints, textures, and colors that make you happy. Dopamine decor is very individualized because every person has a different recipe for what makes them light up inside.
If you’re looking to start small, pick up some colorful books, potted plants, and unique-shaped candles to redecorate your coffee table or media console. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, snag some fun throw blankets, pillows, and statement curtains.
For those ready to make a bigger commitment to dopamine decor, grab some bold-colored paint and refresh your walls. You could even choose two or three complementary colors for a multi-toned look. A step up from there could be a patterned wallpaper statement wall; boutique hotels and Instagram accounts are fantastic sources of ideas and inspiration for wallpaper styling.
Ready to fully invest in the decor style? There’s no better way to do so than with some bold new furniture. Think a jewel-tone velvet couch, a floral patterned accent chair, an animal print bench, or an ornate gilded mirror. Or you could start with a bold, super-sized rug to build your happiness from the ground up.
The options are truly limitless and can be customized to your tastes and personality. As long as you’re venturing outside a neutral color palette and living by Marie Kondo’s “Does this bring me joy?” philosophy, you’re well on your way to decking out your home in dopamine decor.
Here are some of our favorite finds to get that dopamine flowing: