Styled, Staged & Sold

Bringing you the latest home design and staging trends. From REALTOR® Magazine.

How Design Psychology Can Help You Lure Buyers

Design psychology is a subject you know something about, even if this is the first time you’re hearing about it.

When we’re asked what design psychology is, our best sound bite comes from the world of real estate. When helping a buyer find a house, after going on "The Journey of Many Houses," have you ever had the experience of walking through the door of the umpteenth house and being overwhelmed with the feeling: “YES!  This is the house!”—before you’ve even seen all the rooms?!

Most people make the decision to buy a home having spent less than 20 minutes inside it.

But why? What makes a house just seem “right” to a client so quickly?

As psychologists, we want to know what gives someone the “YES!” feeling — and as designers, we want to know how we can create it — every time. For real estate practitioners, getting to "Yes" means making the perfect match between client and property.

Design psychology is the only approach to design and architecture that recognizes our responses to the physical world are essentially emotional in nature.

At ForrestPainter Design, we’ve adapted psychological interview and testing methods to let us understand our design clients’ emotional responses to the physical world. And then we use that wealth of information to design ideal spaces for them.

Over the next few months, REALTOR® Magazine's Styled, Staged and Sold blog will have information from the fields of psychology, neurobiology, immunology, and design that can help your clients satisfy that deepest of desires: to live in a house that is truly a home.


In order to get to ‘YES!”, you need to know more about your  client than the number of bedrooms and bathrooms they want in a house. To know what their ideal home would look like — ask them!

We use a technique we call "Castles in the Air."

Ask your clients what it means to them to feel "at home", and then take 10 or 15 minutes to imagine their dream home with them, building it room by room.  Here are a few questions to get the ball rolling:

  • When you open your eyes in the morning, what do you want to see?
  • When you have friends and family to the house, how do you want them to feel?
  • When you get home from a long and tiring day, which room is your destination?

In these questions you are capturing three distinct moods, and addressing both public and private areas of the house. We’d love to get your feedback about building "Castles in the Air" with your clients!

Watch the design psychologists in action with this short video on their work from NBC Today Show.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Constance Forrest, PsyD, and Susan Painter, PhD, are credited as the founders of the field of design psychology. They serve as principals at ForrestPainter Design, a Venice, Calif., design psychology practice that specializes in using psychological tools and techniques in the design of interior, workspace and landscape design. They are also instructors for the first university-based course in Design Psychology at the UCLA Architecture/Interior Design Program: Visit their Web site:


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