What’s #Trending: Dopamine Decor

By Bianca Guzzo

A visit to my best friend’s house is like free admission into a museum of curiosities. Each corner of her home is filled with colourful artwork and fun miniatures that instantly make me smile. The legs of her lamps are wearing tiny Crocs and her light switches have fun geometric designs on them. Every time I go over to spend time with her I love seeing what little things she’s added to her collection. There’s so much to look at and for me, it’s really exciting. This unique style of decorating is actually called “Dopamine decor” and it’s been growing in popularity over the past three years, starting during the first Covid-19 lockdowns. Suddenly, people had a lot of free time and nowhere to go, so they started taking to DIY home improvement tasks to fill their days and switch-up their surroundings. Dopamine decor is the antithesis of a home filled with white and grey tones. It’s for anyone who loves to be surrounded by rich and bright colours and favour joyful tiny knick knacks rather than the minimalist style that has been popular for the last decade or so.

Dopamine decor rose to prominence on social media through the pandemic following the popularity of “Dopamine dressing” which follows the same principals to wear items that make you happy. People were making beaded jewellery, hauling their overalls out of retirement, and slipping Crocs on again. It wasn’t just about donning styles that made people happy because for the most part, what they were wearing was really comfortable, too. It was only a matter of time before that same style extended into home decor. Much like most of us spent the pandemic revisiting all of the things we used to love as kids and teens, Dopamine decor is kind of a return to the days where you would fill your walls with collages of photos from disposable cameras of you and your friends and cover your doors with larger than life posters of your favourite pop stars. What’s great about Dopamine decor is that your house doesn’t have to adhere to one single element of a specific design aesthetic, it can just be whatever makes you happy. Your home can be as wild as you want it to be.

There are a couple of different avenues you can travel down if you want to adopt this interior design style. If you want to start incorporating more colour and whimsical decor into your space but don’t want to dive head-first into crowded shelves and eclectic art, you can take a more pared back approach with pastels. Even being more thoughtful when it comes to decorating can put you in the “Dopamine decor” headspace. Instead of getting something only because it looks nice, you buy and display it because it makes you happy or invokes a sense of nostalgia. If you’re feeling a little bolder, the other option is to go full throttle and make your home an unhinged explosion of all the items that make you happy. It’s all about putting your personality front and centre in your home. For some, it’s letting their inner-child help make design choices, so they can live in the space they dreamed of as a kid. It turns out, having your living room look like the inside of your childhood Barbie Dreamhouse can be incredibly healing and surprisingly comfortable. There are a handful of popular creators on TikTok that have also helped popularize the trend. One creator has spent years shopping at thrift stores to turn their living room into an ‘80s time capsule. Others have gotten crafty making plates and bowls of hyper-realistic fake food to mount on their walls. Some get joy from oversized novelty items like giant writing utensils they can display around their homes. It’s inspired many others to go hunting at home decor stores to find a stool that looks like a giant lemon, or trash bins that look like disposable coffee cups (oversized food decor is a popular trend among the Dopamine decor community).

Hanging up a fake birthday cake on your wall, or bowls filled with cute trinkets might actually improve the way you feel, too. Home&Texture.com say that adopting this design aesthetic can boost your mood and improve relaxation after a hard day. We know that colours can affect our mood, so decorating using colours that specifically get you excited instead of just neutral shades can make us feel more stoked on the day-to-day. According to clevelandclinic.org, Dopamine is commonly known as the “feel-good hormone”. It’s part of our internal reward system and it’s responsible for a whole bunch of important stuff with our brain and body, so when you’re doing something for yourself that your body uniquely needs to survive, it makes you feel motivated and happy. Our brains are always looking for Dopamine release and it’s no secret or surprise that for many of us, the reality of the last few years has only increased the need to infuse a little extra bliss into our lives, so why not let it be all over your home?

Being surrounded by your favourite things that uplift you isn’t a groundbreaking concept on paper, but Dopamine decor has people pretty split online. While some totally embrace the bold pops of colour and maximalism, others have no problem voicing their disdain for bright hues and artwork on walls. Comments often range from “Your home looks like the inside of a preschool” to “That’ll be a nightmare for new owners to cover up. Good luck selling!” But other commenters brought up a great point in defence of dopamine decor …Why are we decorating for future owners, and not for ourselves? Not to knock the design aesthetic of others, but I personally couldn’t live in a colourless abode, so why would I live in an off-white or greige void instead of a home that feels exactly like me? And absolutely no hate to the greige, minimalist fans! If that’s what makes you happy, that’s your dopamine decor, friends!

Whether you want your home to look like a museum of adorable miniatures, or a groovy ‘70s lounge, as long as your home makes you feel safe and happy you’re actually doing Dopamine decor right. The Dopamine decor trend proves that homes don’t have to be universally appealing or lacking in colour to be taken seriously.If you want to start infusing a little Dopamine decor into your home, next time you’re out and you see a little trinket that makes you smile, pick it up and put it on a shelf in your home. You’ll be surprised at how just a little difference will change the way you feel.

Tags: tiktok, top story, topstory, What's Trending

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    • Anna
    • August 2, 2023

    Just reading your article was like experiencing a hit of dopamine, I had a smile on my face throughout. I am a greige minimalist myself but I can certainly appreciate the joy of colour and a collection of objects that brings pleasure and comfort to everyday living

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