Designing for Joy | 10 Aesthetics of Joy

January 24, 2020

If you have followed me for a while, you know by now my love for the book Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee. I was so inspired after reading this book, I share it with everyone! I passionately believe that everyone should live in a home that gives them energy every day and brings them joy. This book has helped me to understand how simple design choices can brighten our mood.

Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee
Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee

In the book, the author researches what brings us joy in life and came up with 10 different aesthetics. I am sharing these 10 aesthetics today and included examples of how each one can be used in your own home.

Our world becomes layered. It contains joy that can be seen and others that lie just below the surface of everyday life; and with each joy we uncover, we are reminded that we are the architects of our own delight, the makers of our own luck.

Ingrid Fetell Lee

10 Aesthetics of Joy


Color gives us energy. Adding pops of color and light into your home will make it feel more vibrant and lively. I loved learning about this aesthetic because so many people are afraid to use color! We all get afraid that we will choose the wrong color and mess up our house so we stay safe and choose a safe color. This doesn’t mean that you have to go out and paint your family room red, but adding that punch of color can draw energy into your space.

Designing for joy by adding bright colors
Source :: Studio DIY

I love the bright colors that Clark + Aldine used in their boy’s bedroom. Children’s bedrooms are a great place to try out bold colors on the wall or ceiling.

Bright colors bring energy and joy into a space
source :: Clark + Aldine


Have you ever noticed that adding a few textures into a room can make it feel better? A room without pattern or texture can feel boring and bland. If you have a space that feels bare, try adding a repeating pattern with pillows or a throw blanket. The variety of textures and patterns is naturally stimulating to humans and adds joy into space when it is done right.

I love the unique pattern of this backsplash! Construction 2 Style did a fantastic job of creating a pattern with lots of variation that still feels pulled together.

Varying textures and patterns bring us joy
source :: Construction 2 Style

This is definitely a more bold approach to abundance but it totally works! There are actually quite a few aesthetics pulled into this but the varying patterns and textures bring people joy when they see it.

Varying textures and patterns are a part of the abundance aesthetic
Source :: Rowans Rainbow


I see the aesthetic everywhere right now! It aligns really well with the clean, Mid Century Modern design and is very calming. Spending time outdoors is imperative for our happiness so it is no surprise that bringing the outdoors in will bring us joy. If your space has a lot of natural light from windows, showcase that view and bring the light in! Adding in natural elements and colors found outdoors will bring joy into your design. In a more extreme case, if your space is windowless and dark, add in bright light (look for 2,700-3,000 kelvin LED light bulbs), pull in natural colors and plans from the outdoors and don’t fill the room with too many things.

Mandy from Vintage Revivals is the plant queen and creates designs that reflect the freedom aesthetic well.

Bringing the outdoors in will make us happier
source :: Vintage Revivals


Everyone loves a little surprise! Consider adding something unexpected into your design to delight your guests or yourself every day! Adding a bold and unexpected wallpaper to a bathroom is a fun way to incorporate this element into your home. Another idea is adding a fun design to a closet with wallpaper or a bright paint color.

The half bathroom in our new home is covered in quirky wallpaper from the 1960s. It is not my design aesthetic at all, but I will be keeping it for a while because it surprises everyone that visits our home. Here is a great example of a fun and quirky half bathroom!

Add the element of surprise into a bathroom to bring joy to guests
Source :: Eclectic Twist


Symmetry and patterns create harmony in a room. Have you ever walked into a room where something like a table is off-center? I am guessing it was distracting and probably bothered you. That is because the harmony is off. We feel happier when a room feels balanced and everything is in its place. When I renovated my dining room, the chandelier was centered in the room but was off-center from the walkway connecting it to the living room. Because the table would be placed in the center of the walkway, I moved the chandelier to be centered above the table instead of the room. This made the room feel much more balanced.

Centering items in a space brings harmony to the room
Dining Room Makeover

Repeating patterns also bring harmony to a room. The striped couch and color-coded books bring balance to this library design.

Repeating patterns make a room feel balanced
Source :: The Makerista


Have you ever wondered why we are all so attracted to vaulted ceilings and open entryways? Everything that draws our eyes up will bring us joy. We reference this with our speech when we say phrases like, “being on cloud 9” and “things are looking up”. When we speak negatively it is often reflected downward with phrases like “she fell ill” and “I was feeling down”. When you are designing a space, think about how you may be able to draw the eyes up with light fixtures, beams or even wallpaper on the ceiling.

Designing for joy with vaulted ceilings
Source :: Studio McGee


The aesthetic of magic is similar to surprise but it focuses more on reflective materials and surprise patterns that come from light. For my married ladies out there, have you ever been going about your business and then this sparkly pattern of light catches your attention? When light hits a diamond ring, it creates a pattern of light confetti on a wall and it is always a fun and unexpected surprise. Some people will put a disco ball in the path of the sun to get this reflective pattern in a room or they will hang a prism in the window to get a rainbow light beam.

Reflecting light brings joy with the feeling of magic
Source :: Arrows and Bow

There is an amazing exhibit happening at our local museum right now and it is all the rage. It is called fireflies on the water and it is an experience where you go into a dark room with mirrors on the walls and floor and thousands of tiny lights hanging from the ceiling. This exhibit is so popular because it feels magical and enchanting for all of its guests.

Fireflies on the Water art exhibit
Toledo Museum Exhibit: Yayoi Kusama: Fireflies on the Water


If your home is feeling lonely and dull, add some celebration elements into the design! Shapes that mimic starbursts and fireworks remind you of celebrations and fun. Designing a room with a party and celebration in mind will unconsciously remind you that others would enjoy this space as well. It is a design with community in mind that is best enjoyed with others.


If you want to add some life into your design, try incorporating flowers into the design. Blossoming shapes and curved designs suggest growth and renewal. I love the floral design trends right now, especially the oversized floral wallpaper seen in the bedroom below. The bedroom has many curves and soft shapes in the room that help to set the mood in the room.

Blossoms and curved shapes bring joy to the design of this space
Source :: Ellie Cashman Design


If you want to add play into your design, think like a child! I love it when a children’s bedroom has a miniature rock-climbing wall or a basement has a swing. These added elements are fun and creative and are not often found in standard designs for that type of room.

If you want this element to be a little more subtle, adding rounded furnishings and spherical designs can help to achieve this aesthetic.

Playful designs make this entry fun and joyful
Source :: Banyan Bridges

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How to use the 10 aesthetics of joy to design a more joyful home | Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee recap
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