Think about the last time you had a massage or a facial. Just remembering the experience revives the relaxing feeling you left with, and probably makes you smile. Wistfully. Now you want another massage or facial, don’t you?
It’s no accident that wellness spas and massage therapy centers make you feel so good. They are purposefully designed to maximize ambient experience by appealing to all of the five senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. Every element of sensory design engages one of the five senses to heighten the experience for the customer:
- Soft lights and relaxing color schemes in comfortable surroundings
- Soothing sounds of nature like gentle waves or nighttime sounds
- Spicy herbal teas or refreshing flavored waters
- Fluffy, luscious towels and robes
- Hands-on treatments by trained professionals
- Aromatherapy oils and wonderfully scented beauty products
Using the Five Senses as Basis for Home Design
Industrial designers, home decorators and even brand designers believe that the best designs appeal to all (or most) of our senses. Our senses are how we perceive the world, so it‘s logical that the more involved we become with our surroundings, i.e., the more senses we use, the stronger the experience.
Consider this: you smell coffee brewing, you cradle the warm cup in your hands and you slowly drink, savoring the moment. That’s three senses engaged; smell, touch and taste. If it’s got a fancy cream design on top, you can add sight and if it’s a steamed-milk latte, the hissing of the steamer adds hearing. All five senses are engaged in this coffee experience. That pretty much describes Starbucks; they excel at marketing to all the senses. (Now you want a coffee.)
Design that speaks to the senses can evoke comfort and relaxation; the end result is the desire to spend more time in the space. Using the five senses as a basis for whole home design will result in a more personal, warm and inviting home. Here are some decorating ideas for engaging each of the five senses that can be adapted for any room in your home to reflect your own personal taste and style.
When you walk into a room you form an immediate impression by what you see. You want your home to be interesting, attractive and inviting at first look and every day, so being visually appealing is a big part of that first impression. A room should say, “Glad you’re here; come in and stay awhile!”
- Mix patterns, textures and colors in your furnishings.
- Use interesting artwork and décor as eye candy.
- Capitalize on the best view for each room, whether it’s outside or inside (such as a fireplace) and arrange seating to capture that view.
- Clutter can be unsettling, so de-clutter and have ample, comfortable seating.
- Frame your windows with beautiful window coverings to enhance the view and dress the room.
- Let in natural sunlight, it’s easy on the eyes and a natural mood enhancer.
To a degree, sounds are subjective, not everyone likes the same things. The sound of a fountain, children laughing, or tinkling wind chimes can be soothing. Everyday living noises like dishwashers, washing machines, TVs and computers can become overwhelming without some peace and quiet as well. Listen to your home and see if you need to make some auditory adjustments.
- When setting up game rooms, media rooms, or work rooms consider how the sound will impact other areas of the home; you may need to add some sound buffers.
- Be sure a home office or nursery has the availability of quiet.
- Place furniture (big comfy reading chair) by an open window to bring pleasant outside sounds in.
- Layering drapes over blinds or shutters helps block noise from freeways, schools or train tracks.
- Keep your windows closed and create a calming ambiance by using music, a sound machine for sounds of nature (ocean waves or rain), or just enjoy the golden silence.
You may not have thought of incorporating elements of taste into decorating, but there are ways to utilize the sense of taste in many rooms for an added feeling of enjoyment and belonging.
- Use appetite-inducing red or orange in the kitchen or dining room.
- Fresh fruit in a bowl stimulates the desire to taste it.
- The irresistible allure of chocolate in a decorative candy dish invites a bite in any room.
- Arrange several clear containers on the coffee table filled with appetizing snacks.
Smell is often considered the strongest sense, and a smell can instantly bring back memories. A distinctive perfume recalls a special person, or a wood fire can transport you to carefree days at camp. There are great comfort smells like cookies baking, popcorn popping and fresh flowers. There are also uncomfortable smells like litter boxes, kitchen trash and smoke. A pleasant smell will obviously make your home more inviting, so consider these tips:
- Place fragrant plants like lavender, rosemary or mint around the house, fresh or dried.
- Potpourri, scented candles or oil burners can lightly scent a room.
- Open the windows to provide a cleansing breath of fresh air.
- If you have a fragrant tree or garden outside, an open window will allow these scents in (orange blossoms or night-blooming jasmine).
- Join the 73.9% of American households that use air fresheners (Statista.com)
- Don’t allow smelly items or areas to get out of control.
The sense of touch is closely associated with the emotions of belonging and warmth. Add sensory design elements to every room in your home to make it most inviting. Create a balance of same or dissimilar textures that express your own personal style. For example, if you have an eclectic sense of style, playing off distinctions like a distressed wood dining table with an elegant fringed linen table runner can make quite a statement.
- Use natural materials like woven wood shades to exude warmth.
- Incorporate interesting textures in various décor items that provoke the desire to touch.
- Shutters, shades and draperies will all enhance the textural experience of a room.
- Contrast textures in your furnishings; layer a soft throw over a wood chair.
- Pillows and rugs in different textures and fabrics add dimension and interest.
- Large and small plants add living texture that brings nature indoors.
Are your senses fully engaged? By now you want a massage and a coffee, and probably some custom window coverings! If you’re ready for some sensory design ideas to customize your living spaces and refashion your home as we move into 2015, your Budget Blinds Style Consultant is ready to help. Call (866) 879-9730 today for a free, in-home consultation or go online to www.budgetblinds.com to find your nearest Budget Blinds location. And don’t forget to put the coffee on.