The Aesthetics of Joy

By Kate Riley September 4, 2018

First, thanks so much to all of you who left thoughtful comments on my post about the loss of my best friend, I appreciated that so much. The grief comes in waves, but every day I am waking up feeling better about life and today I feel ready to jump back in.

Last week a friend of mine sent me this TED talk about Where Joy Hides and How to Find It. As I listened to it, it resonated with me and I wanted to share it with you. In the talk, author Ingrid Fetell Lee explains the aesthetics of joy as it relates to interior design.

In a society where we’re obsessed with the pursuit of happiness, we often overlook joy. What is joy? Joy is that positive emotion that makes us smile in that exact moment we’re feeling it.

In the talk is the reminder that joy can have tangible, physical attributes. We find joy in moments but we can also find joy in things like the colors in a unique piece of art or the softness or pattern in a favorite fabric.

Joy comes from many sources but it also comes from the pleasing environments that we in the design community create with our knowledge of color, scale, lighting, and materials. As decorators and designers, we create welcoming spaces that are not just functional, but a place of joy as well, whether it’s for our own families, a business, or a client.

I loved this TED talk for its analytical breakdown of how tangible things can create intangible joy. Be encouraged, because when we share our projects, our home tours, and our design work, each one of us is part of the process of creating and sharing the aesthetics of joy.

* If you want to dive deeper, you can find the author’s new book on finding joy here.



  1. The drive towards joy is the drive towards life. A great reminder to align it with personal goals and take pleasure in the little things (often the currents of life distract us from it). Great talk – thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing! Love this as I sometime feel guilty for how much joy my home and it’s furnishings bring me. I think about how people lose everything in a fire or other disaster and how devastating that would be, when I know they are material things that could be replaced. I’m sure we all have “things” we cherish. Ordering this beautiful book!

  3. This was just what I needed. I am doing home projects, even in our new home, all the time. I may be obsessed a bit… Whenever I am feeling a bit overwhelmed my family and friend ALL remind me that I love it, and I do. From the major new floors to the minor painted wall, it really does bring me joy. Thanks for the post and TED link;) !

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