Our senses effectively determine how we receive and process information, and how we interact with people and spaces. Therefore, it surely makes sense for us to consider very carefully how we want and need the areas within our homes to look, feel, smell (you get the picture) to ensure we can use every single space as intended.
Since the pandemic caused an en masse shift in working styles, many have set up office within their homes – myself included. But, how many are designed to enable the user to do their very best work? Not everybody has the luxury of a designated office space at home, but regardless of whether yours has its own four walls or is simply a spot at the kitchen counter, there are easy and low-cost ways you can step up the sensory experience of your workspace.
My first book, The Sensory Home ® (which is available to pre-order now) 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 full of styling tips to help every room feel warm, inviting, safe, and fit for purpose. Keep reading for a flavour of what to expect from the book…
Sensory Room Ideas: How to Style a Home Office that Works for All 5 Senses
Exactly as you’d expect, consider how your workspace looks. What colour is the room – and how does that make you feel? What feelings do the contents of the room stir up in you – positive, negative, or neutral? Does the space look tidy or cluttered?
Opt for a colour scheme that helps to enable focus. Blues are associated with feelings of calm, whilst green is said to be stress-reducing. Yellow isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but could help to boost the positive energy within the room.
Pay particular attention to storage, as clutter will cause unnecessary distractions, and aim to only have items that are either practical or enjoyable.
First thing’s first – do you have a suitable office chair? Does it feel comfortable, and does it support your body appropriately?
Other things to bear in mind when it comes to styling a home office that ticks all the sensory boxes include:
- Temperature regulation – do you have satisfactory heating and cooling appliances for extreme weather?
- Texture – what does the flooring feel like under your feet? What does the desk feel like underneath your arms?
- Cleanliness – are surfaces clean and dust-free?
There’s likely some sound pollution that’s out of your control within your office environment – perhaps you can hear the road outside, for instance. In lieu of a sound-proofed space, consider how you might be able to minimise intrusive and distracting noise whilst introducing sounds you find calming and that help you to focus.
A great place to start: create a playlist full of music – could be songs by your favourite artist, could be sounds found in nature – that encourages you to get in the zone.
If noisy neighbours are an issue, furniture can act as a barrier. Bookcases filled with books or plants and positioned against the adjoining wall act as natural sound diffusers. If the noise is rising from below, try doubling-up on rugs or adding an extra layer of underlay.
If traffic is causing an issue (and you have the luxury of owning a front garden) plant some hedges – they’ll help to diffuse the sound coming from the road.
Scents can trigger emotional responses, so it’s an important factor to bear in mind when styling a home office. Citrus, for instance, is thought to help you feel energised and alert and is, as such, a great choice of fragrance (in candle or essential oil diffuser form).
Be mindful, too, of unpleasant scents that may leave you feeling unsettled and distracted, such as mildew or trash that needs taking out.
I’m sadly not aware of any flavoured wallpapers a la Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But, whilst you don’t actually taste your decor, it’s still an important element to consider when designing a home office.
Think about the cup of coffee you have to commence your day – if it’s not right, it can put a bad taste (pun intended) in your mouth before the day has even started. So, choose your appliances (your kettle, fridge, and so on) – if any – wisely. Likewise, consider the kinds of snacks you may choose to store in your home office – which ones taste great and contain the nutrients needed to fuel you up for an afternoon of work, and which don’t?
If you enjoyed this piece, check out Sensory Interior Design: What it is and Why it’s Importan