When most people think of creative spaces, they imagine big, spacious rooms with lots of natural light and hardwood floors, areas that are usually detached from the outside world and free from distractions. A creative escape room is a bit different than that. At the end of a long, stressful day imagine walking into a quiet, peaceful, small room with relaxed lighting and ambient music. There’s a big comfy pillow on the floor, maybe a sketchpad and some pencils on the table, and your bevvie of choice. Can you picture this? Perhaps you prefer sitting at a desk, or perhaps you prefer upbeat piano music… The details are personal but the goal is the same: A CREATIVE ESCAPE to ignite your imagination and stimulate unique ideas.

In this article we’ll cover:

  • Why you need a creative escape room

  • What does it mean to be creative

  • Picking the location

  • The importance of Light and Mood

  • The importance of Sound

  • Consistency

  • Gratitude and Ceremony

  • 10 Design Tips

Understanding Why You Need A Creative Escape Room

The importance of having a creative space in your home where you can escape from stress and distractions cannot be emphasized enough. A creative escape room provides a way for you to disconnect from work, and your daily routine, so that you can decompress, escape, and think without distraction or limitation. Finding a space to immerse yourself with thinking creatively can transform your mental health, and your life.

I say ‘room’ but 4 walls are not necessary. Your escape ‘room’ may be in the corner of your bedroom, on your favorite chair, or at your kitchen table. Wherever your room may be, however permanent or mobile, claim it and design it.

Designing a creative escape room should be a top priority on your checklist of self-care tasks.

What Does it Mean to Be Creative

Before we jump into designing a creative space, let’s talk about what it means to be creative.

By definition, creative is ‘relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas.’

Although some would disagree, I think all of us have creativity within us—we just need to tap into it. Sure, some of us may be more or less creative from the get-go but that’s likely due to the amount of time each person has spent cultivating it. It takes regular practice.

By creating a space dedicated to letting your imagination run wild, you’ll find yourself bringing your unique ideas out of hiding.

Pick the Right Location

Think about where you want your space to be. You’ll need a place that’s quiet enough for you to focus without any interruptions. Is there a room that can be transformed inside your home? Or is there a quiet corner away from distractions?

In warmer climates, or during the warmer months, is this space outside?

If you don’t have a dedicated room, can you put together a kit that makes it easy to set up and tear down regularly? Perhaps the kitchen table transforms to the creative escape room every Saturday night from 7-8pm.

Maybe this space isn’t even in your home. Can you look for a spaces outside of your home in which you can control the environment? Look for local creative space rentals.

Or, just start by picking a local library or coffee shop for your creative escape.

What matters most is that the space is designated for a specific purpose. To escape into your own thoughts… to dream… to imagine. And nothing else.

The Importance of Lighting and Mood

According to numerous studies, lighting directly affects our mood, emotions, and ability to be creative.

Consider the time of day that you will be using this space and what you would like to accomplish during your escape.

If you’re able to plan your escape during the day, natural light can foster creativity and inspiration, and give you a dose of vitamin D which will boost the mood naturally. When you boost the mood you’re also boosting your ability to think creatively.

But, if you’re like me, and like escape in your thoughts in the evening, you need to set the mood with warm, dim lighting.

A Study [Effect of Light Color Temperature on Human Concentration and Creativity] published on pubmed.com found that creativity was cultivated better under warm light than cooler light. You can pick up bulbs from your local hardware store, or use a lamp that offers warmer tones.

Have you heard the phrase “Creativity thrives in the dark” ? There’s a reason behind that. Darkness triggers a chain of interrelated processes, including a cognitive processing style, which is beneficial to creativity. (Journal of Environmental Psychology)

The Importance of Sound

When you think of things that inspire creativity, you likely don’t think of noise. It’s understandable—you want a space where you can focus on your craft without distraction. But research suggests that when it comes to getting into the zone of concentration and creativity, having too much silence isn’t good for you—it can actually be counterproductive. Silence may seem like it would be more conducive to thinking, but in reality, its lack of auditory stimuli inhibits what neuroscientists call active cognitive functioning.

In other words, silence can make it more difficult for your brain to engage in higher-level thinking—the kind of thinking that has you brainstorming and coming up with new ideas.

When you are setting up your creative escape room, be sure to include the element of noise.

What kind of noise? Well, that’s up to you.

I prefer music in a different language. My absolute favorite group to listen to while in my creative zone is Sigor Ros (Icelandic Musicians).

Many studies have concluded that upbeat classical music is the best choice for stimulating your creativity.

Zen/Nature sounds can help you relax and disconnect but make sure it’s stimulating enough to keep your brain alert.

What about white noise?

Although white noise is known to help with concentration and general cognitive functions, it has no real effect on fostering creative thinking.

Consistency for Mental Health

We all have our days when we feel inspired, and uninspired. Regularly going into your creative escape room will help establish a routine in which those ‘uninspired’ periods will happen less and less over time. You’ll notice an incredible transformation in your mental health, and creative thinking will overflow into your daily thoughts.

Being creative is known to increase positive emotions, while suppressing negative emotions, decreasing stress, and even combatting depression.

Consistency is key.

You may not feel motivated to work out until you get to the gym, but once you’re there that changes. It’s because your brain has been trained to react when you enter the gym. In that same way, by visiting your escape room regularly you are connecting creative thinking to being in this space, and through consistency, your brain will turn ‘on’ when you enter.

When you first start going to the gym, you may be doing so because you feel unhealthy. But after visiting regularly you start to feel better about your health. In fact, you start to think of yourself as a healthy, fit person.

When you first start visiting your creative escape room you may feel uninspired but with regular practice that will change. Not only will you find yourself more and more motivated, you’ll call yourself a creative person.

Gratitude and Ceremony

Approach your space with gratitude, and either begin, or end each session with a ceremony.

Breathe in deeply. Think about how amazing it feels to be here; how great it feels when creativity comes easily. Appreciate your space, no matter where you are—whether you have an entire room or simply a table.

Breathe out slowly. Feel grateful for those things that inspire and help you create—things like music, words, art . . . whatever brings clarity to your creative process.

Pick a mantra to repeat at each session.

Here are a few that I like:

– Let it be simple.

– Clear thoughts, open mind.

– Creativity lives within me.

– I am a living creative expression.

– My mind is at peace.

And finally, give yourself a pat on the back. You did it. You created a space for your escape, you designed it to be just what you needed, you used it, and you are improving your life with consistent practice.

10 Quick Tips for Designing your Creative Escape Room

Now that you’re here, you’ve read about the importance of having a creative escape room, how lighting and sound play a role, why you need to practice consistently, and how to include gratitude and ceremony in your practice.

Here are 10 quick tips that you can reference when designing your space.

  1. Needs to be located away from distractions.

  2. Needs to be exclusively dedicated to your use as a creative escape on a regular basis.

  3. If using artificial light, choose dim, warm tones. Add candles for ambiance.

  4. Add the element of noise.

  5. Have a journal handy for writing your thoughts.

  6. Have a sketchpad and some pencils handy. If creativity doesn’t come naturally, start sketching to stimulate ideas. Simple Daily Drawing offers monthly sketchpads with daily drawing prompts.

  7. A diffuser with calming or stress-ease oils can be a nice complement to the ambiance.

  8. Use natural/neutral colors for space.

  9. Minimal decor. Take one or two items to each visit for inspiration.

  10. Add a light snack and/or bevvy if you intend to spend more than an hour in your space.