Sensory Interior Design: What is it and Why is it Important?

Our homes have a bigger impact on our lives than we sometimes give them credit for. A 2019 study revealed that 73% of people who are happy with their home are also happy in general – which is no coincidence, since it’s thought that a happy home accounts for 15% of our overall happiness (in comparison to income, which accounts for 6% and employment which accounts for 3%).

There are many elements involved in creating a happy home, including safety, sanitation, privacy, and usage. The elements I am particularly interested in, however, are comfort and identity – the act of styling a space in a way that reflects who we are and what makes us feel at peace. And sensory interior design is my favourite way to achieve this feel within your home.

Bright hallway with white walls and artwork

What is sensory interior design?

Sensory interior design is a decorating and styling strategy that ensures all interior spaces activate the human senses – sight, scent, sound, touch, and taste. By considering all senses when styling a space, you can create somewhere that completely supports you and your needs. 

Why is sensory interior design important?

Sensory experience can massively impact how you feel when you’re in a space. When we’re at home, we want to feel safe, secure, relaxed, and calm (although there are some exceptions), and sensory interior design allows us to manipulate spaces in a way that helps to trigger the emotions we’d like to feel and the experience we’d like to have.

Sensory interior design is particularly important for neurodiverse individuals, who can be extremely sensitive to their surroundings – textures, colours, sounds, and so on. Styling a space based on sensory experience ensures that neurodiverse individuals don’t feel overstimulated, uncomfortable, or on edge when they want to be resting.

How can you incorporate sensory interior design into your home?

There are many easy ways to incorporate sensory interior design into your home. Here are 3 of my favourites:

1. Be mindful of colours

Before committing to a colour scheme, consider colour psychology – the impact various shades have on human behaviour. Red, for instance, is associated with strength and power, and is thought to be energising and motivating. If you’re fortunate to have, say, a space at home that’s solely for exercising in, red may be a helpful colour to work into your scheme. In a bedroom, however, it’s likely to be too stimulating. Blue, on the other hand, is associated with peace and tranquility, and can help to relieve feelings of stress. It’s ideal for bedrooms, bathrooms, and living rooms.

2. Choose scents wisely

Similarly to colours, scents can trigger emotional responses, so be mindful when choosing fragrances for your home. Lavender, you probably already know, can help to facilitate feelings of peace and encourage sleep (so it’s a great scent to have in the bedroom), whilst citrus can help you feel energised and more alert (ideal for your kitchen or home office). Be aware, also, of how unpleasant smells can impact your mood and throw off the balance in your home. Scents such as mildew, or mould from a fridge that needs cleaning, can leave you feeling unsettled and distracted.

3. Read my book

My first book, The Sensory Home ® and teaches you how to use your senses to create a home environment that works for your family’s unique needs – including neurodiverse individuals.

It’s jam-packed full of hints and tips, as well as long-term solutions, for bringing to life your vision of a warm, inviting, and safe home. It’s a topic I’m so incredibly passionate about, and I’m so excited to share everything I have learned in my 25 years of working in the interiors industry with you and your loved ones.

It’s out on September 13th, but you can pre-order it right now.

Want to see how I used sensory interior design in my own home? Check out this blog post