Designing for the Senses

Reed Diffuser - AromatherapySuccessful interior decorating takes into account the entire human-home experience. It’s about taking design principles a step further and melding them with the science of Human Factors to engage the five senses of sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing to create a home environment that soothes and nurtures our souls. It’s the difference between a house and a home – and it’s easy to create.

Touch - fill your home with fabrics and upholsteries that comfort. Chenille throws, silk sheets, Egyptian cotton linens and towels, fluffy pillows, down comforters, plush sofas – you will know if it’s right just by touch. When shopping for fabrics or upholstered furniture run your hands across the surface. Ask yourself “How does it feel?” and “How does it make me feel”. One of my favorite home decor tactile experiences was a faux fur mink blanket that transported me into a world of luxury and pampering each time I touched it and wrapped myself in it.

Sight- lovely things make us happy that’s why we strive to create a visually pleasing home environment. For some of us that means using soothing colors and neutrals while to others it means using vibrant colors. The key is to choose decorative pieces and color palettes that fit your personality so that when you look at your home it brings you joy. It may be as simple as painting a red wall that is causing you pain and sadness to a celadon or light blue. Or it can mean that you say “No Thank You” to your Aunt Melanie when she offers up her country style plaid sofa – and your natural style trends toward mid-century modern.

Smell – we like things that smell good hence the multi-billion dollar home fragrance and perfume industry. Fragrances play a very special part in making us feel at home they can make us feel warm and comfortable as Vanilla does or whisk us away to exotic places as does the combination of mango and citrus or make us think of the Christmas holidays as do the scents of apple-cinnamon (cider), evergreen (Christmas Trees) and nutmeg and rum (egg nog). You can create a fragrant sensory experience at home by introducing your favorite scents via scented candles, home fragrance sprays, laundry detergents and home care products. I launder my fine linens and towels with the Good Home Company Lavender detergent and fragrance – and each time I slip between the sheets and smell the delightful and soothing lavender my body relaxes, I can feel the tension of the day melt away and the lavender fragrance also brings back happy memories of care-free summer days spent traveling in France which bring a smile to my face and heart.

Sound – Music can fill a home with happy memories, moments of joy, and soothing tranquility. Whether it’s music that makes you want to dance, be creative, relax and calm down, or reminds you of happy Christmas mornings – a happy house is often filled with music the moves the soul and soothes the nerves.

Loud, abrupt noises create stress and will lead to your eventual unhappiness in your home. Sometimes we can’t help our environment, for example living in an urban area you can expect street noise. If the noise is very loud and obtrusive then you may want to invest in double pane windows and sound barriers for your walls.

Taste - yes, this may sound odd but it really isn’t. When decorating your home you can use fruit and vegetables as decor. It’s decor that’s good for you :) My personal favorite is to fill clear glass bowls with interesting color combinations. For fruit I like to mix limes and lemons or bright orange mangoes with yellow-green pears. I also decorate my kitchen island with a mini-herbal garden consisting of cilantro, parsley and rosemary.

The Decorating Diva is a luxury home design magazine and lifestyle journal dedicated to the concept of living a stylish and comfortably elegant life at home – joyfully surrounded by the beautiful things you love.Join, Carmen, The Decorating Diva’s founder, as she blogs about sophisticated, smart, stylish and beautiful decor for your home and shares her decorating and style advice with you.Follow her and several of our wonderful contributors on inspirational design trips as they explore enchanted lands both far and near – returning with a delightful treasure trove of design finds for your home.