5 real-life design lessons I learned from The Sims

Guest post by Julie F.

WithcurtainsYears before I became a homeowner, way before I moved into my first apartment and took interest in decoration my living space, I played The Sims. My first design screw-ups, brilliant ideas, questionable color choices and architectural fantasies were all tested on my favorite video game, between a set of twins, a “missing” pool ladder, and alien abduction. All in all, I had tons of fun, testing, creating and learning. And isn’t that what decoration should be about? Fun!

Here are the five things that playing The Sims³ taught me about decorating in real life…

1. Two major negative moodlets: “It’s dark” and “Unfinished room

Apparently, having sufficient lighting and painted walls is a bare minimum, even in Sims. However, for a girl who could live for a couple of years in a room on primer with single light bulb on the ceiling, it’s not that clear. Sims explained to me that it affects your mood and when negative moodlets piles up, your ability to perform simple tasks and function properly is diminished. So I started to paint my real walls and add secondary lights to most of my rooms and, ta dah! Everything now feels much warmer and cosy. I’m now a relaxed Sim in my house.

2. Overload of textures and colors makes you lag

[related-post align=”right”]In Sims world, terrible computer crashes can happen when your not-so-up-to-date machine tries to save a house you customized with millions of colors and textures. (Those of you who played Sims know too well the anxiety of waiting to know if your game saved or not!) Well apparently, it can happen in real life, too.

Please, dear rainbow-color-addicted-junkies (yes, Ariel, I’m talking to you here) let me explain. It’s not me who said it, it’s science. Your eyes (and your brain) can only process a limited amount of information at a time, and for a limited period of time before getting tired. That’s why we normally tell people to stop looking for an art piece after one hour of browsing a catalog or visiting a gallery. After that it’s no use — you’ll miss details anyway. Since each color and texture is a different piece information, looking at a multi-colored and textured room will demand more concentration from your brain (or power from your computer) than an all beige and plain one. In the end, the real art is to balance over-stimulating vs. boring decors. And like most things in life, everyone (and every computer) has its own equilibrium. Find it and you’ll be a much happier Sim.

Before and after the curtains and rugs were added.
Before and after the curtains and rugs were added.

3. Everything is better with a rug and window treatment

It came to me like one of those things you’ve done by instinct for a certain time, then stop doing and realized something was missing, but couldn’t pin-point exactly what was missing. Until you realize you missed the “rugs” and “curtains” tab in your decoration routine.

Since then, I’ve always tried to pay attention to window treatment and even recently purchased a rug which really made me feel like an adult. And it guaranties a positive “Nicely Decorated” moodlet!

4. There should be a maximum of one-to-three items per surface/table/counter top

Fellow Simmers, I feel ya. Nothing is quite as frustrating as the damn limit of items you can put on counter tops and the table in Sims. How many times have you thought: “I KNOW there is space for that lamp on the table, I can SEE it. Why would you not let me place the fracking lamp?” Well, as annoying as it is, the developers might be right: There SHOULD be a limit of items you can place on a given surface. Even in real life.

Tour your house and take away items on counter tops, tables, and other surfaces until there are one-to-three left. You’ll probably end up minimizing the clutter and valorising the items on display. It’s easy enough; think like you were playing Sims!

Before and after landscaping.
Before and after landscaping.

5. Don’t overlook landscaping

It’s often the thing you do last, with little-to-no budget. However it does not mean you should overlook the importance of landscaping or decorating the exterior of your house. Why? Because it is what greets you every single day. Before your cat or the kids or the partners, your front yard/door is the thing that says “Welcome home.” You don’t need much to make it work, and a couple of affordable hydrangeas can take you a long way.

Are there any design lessons coming from video games you’d like to share with us?

Comments on 5 real-life design lessons I learned from The Sims

  1. I totally imagine the mood meter when I go into the basement of our house – it’s dirty, dingy, I hate being down there and it DOES affect my mood, just like on The Sims 😀

  2. I love this! People always think I’m crazy when I talk about using Sims ideas in real life but it does work!

    It can come in useful before you move too. When I’m looking for somewhere to move to I gauge the size of rooms from photos by imagining them in Sims squares. A Sim square is about 2 feet across, but more importantly it’s the space needed to stand comfortably without feeling crowded by things around you, and the space needed for a toilet, a small shower, a kitchen cupboard, a window etc. which means I can look at the objects in the room and estimate how big it is and how much of my junk it could hold before I even go and see it in person.

  3. Omgosh this is my favorite post ever!!!

    I love having unlimited funds in Sims 3 and just building and buying and deleting and recreating. I love using really non-traditional colors in my furniture because I can’t use them in real life (right now). Where would I be without the Sims3?

Read more comments

Join the Conversation