The more time I spend in my home, the more I become acutely aware of how I want to live in my home and what is encouraging this need and what is encumbering it.
When we have the opportunity to travel and stay in a variety of homes, hotels, bed and breakfasts, etc., we have the opportunity to experience what draws our eye, what makes us feel comfortable and contrastly, what does not. I feel fortunate to have stayed in some beautiful vacation rentals while traveling in and about France as well in England, but also while traveling to Victoria, Canada, and many other places around the United States.
While decorating and pulling an entire home decor together well is not easy, it is possible with thoughtful consideration of each of the senses and what each needs to feel the way we wish to feel in our sanctuary.
From the linen pillowcases adorning my sofa, to the sandalwood scented as well as lavender scented candles placed in the particular room to coordinate with the mood I am trying to cultivate, to the balance of hardwood floors and rugs, all of these seemingly fundamental components of decor, when done well, can elevate a home to an entirely different level of living. Dare I say, yep, I am going to say it, simply luxurious living.
Today what I’d like to begin talking about are the five senses and how they are part of our everyday decor lives. Over the next months and year or years, I will be sharing with you how I am bringing them into my own home, but I hope today will be the starting off point for inspiring us all to look around our homes and ask ourselves why does this work or why does this not work? And likely the answer will have to do with one or more of the senses being attended or not attended to well.
Let’s get started.
Our sense of sight is one of the strongest and most frequently relied upon when it comes to, well, living, but most specifically when it comes to decorating our homes. As we are shopping online, we cannot touch the fabric, we can only see it, which goes to prove how powerful our sight is and thus why so much attention is paid to it by advertisers to encourage the shoppers to purchase their wares. There are four components of sight: shapes, movement, colors, and light. Let’s take a look at each of them more specifically.
- Shapes: Create focal points in each room that you will see from other rooms that lead into it.
- Movement comes from pairing and combining different colors, patterns, anything that asks the eye to move from one to the other, to see the connection (or not). Your decor should carry the eye naturally around the room, and if done well, make sense to the onlooker, not be confusing, exhausting or complexing.
- Thoughtfully consider the light in each room.
- Natural light – utilize it
- lighting from lamps – what mood and/or feeling is desired, what tasks need to be completed or do you want to be able to complete.
- The color of the walls, the prints of the wallpaper – what feeling do they evoke? What comforts or inspiration do they provide?
- Back to movement: Clutter or organization — a sense of welcome comes from having a place to go and sit or sleep or do the task needed with ease. Eliminate unnecessary things so that your mind will not be bogged down with the energy the excess brings to the space.
While many of the smells we can welcome into our homes can be created or purchased – the candles alight in our bedroom, bathroom, etc., the meals made in the kitchen, etc. – remember to open the windows for fresh air. From the scent of a soft breeze that blows in the scent of the outdoors to the scent of rain falling on the earth, these scents, welcome them in, create a home that welcomes you to stay, relax, dine, unwind, even dance in exhilaration. Be sure to keep your candle cupboard stocked, and remember bouquets, soaps, linen sprays and other subtle touches make a wonderful difference as well.
The birds chirping to begin the day, the rain pattering on a metal roof, the music you play from morning to night to carry you through your day, the silence that is needed after a harrowing day outside of the home. Details matter. Why do we turn on music for dinner parties? Partially to fill the voids of conversation if ever there are any but also to be that additional guest that makes everyone relax and encourages them to enjoy themselves.
The voices that fill the four walls, the laughter, the bantering, the sharing, the loving, these sounds matter. These sounds can create a beautiful symphony of a life you call home and love returning to each day. Thoughtfully consider what media is played and who finds it melodic and who finds it distracting or inhibiting. It’s not always easy to agree on the same preferred sounds when you share your home, but compromise works, turning down the volume works to better understand and deepen respect for one another’s needs. As well, the music that is created when someone is in the kitchen making something that we are waiting for in anticipation, the popping of a Champagne cork, the first bite of a buttery and flaky croissant, these sounds make a home a sanctuary.
Immediately our minds go to the kitchen and the dining room when we think of the fourth sense which is taste. Cultivate a kitchen and dining space that offers delicious memories of flavors and fun and laughter. Memories around food are powerful, and the decor in each of these rooms either celebrates it and welcomes and encourages the cooks in the household to want to step inside and curate something deliciously magical or they make it difficult and unwelcoming.
Make the kitchen functional for you, make the dining area comfortable for all who will sit and dine, especially the members who reside in the home. Returning to “Sight”, remember to incorporate the necessary lighting. No more do I want bright ceiling lighting in the dining room than I want dim, subtle lighting in the kitchen. Each room should encourage and support the life you want to live in it, not squash the possibility of it ever taking place.
The sense of touch is married to sight as you pair soft and hard, warm and cool textures to strike a balance. What makes guests at a highly acclaimed hotel swoon when they walk into their rooms can just as much be the fabrics and linens they see beckoning them to slumber as the colors of the room. But again, they must work well together.
From the sheets we sleep in, the fabric of our sofas and upholstered chairs, the metals and woods and ceramics in our kitchens, that trim our rooms and finish our lighting, the light switches, the mix of glass and fabric, cement and wood, depending upon the aesthetic and feeling you want to physically feel when you touch it, consider carefully the power of texture. Lampshades, rugs, window treatments, floor coverings, the texture of the wall finish, all of these come together to create a welcoming space or a space you don’t feel comfortable taking your shoes off in.
As much as I would love to snap my fingers and have my house completed to a “T” that would perfectly incorporate each of the five senses, just as it takes time to understand ourselves, it takes time to understand ourselves well within our homes. However, when we do know ourselves well, it does happen far more quickly, so long as our budget can keep up with us. 🙂
Have fun learning to dance with your aesthetic preferences and how to welcome them into your sanctuary.
8 thoughts on “Why Not . . . Create a Sanctuary for Your Senses?”
Perfect considerations as we are sheltering in place. I hope that your recommendations will help readers re-frame their thoughts of this time at home as an opportunity, not a punishment. I have learned to “dance” and adapt in the aesthetics and function of my home of 29 years as my needs and the needs of my family have required. Remember, your house is there to serve you, not the other way around!
Great lasting thought to always keep in mind. Thank you for sharing Karen. 🙂
Shannon, I’ve always loved your site, but it’s become my favorite refuge during these challenging times. I quickly scan the news in the morning to keep up with new developments, and then head straight over here and take a deep breath. I hope you and yours are, and stay, well, and thanks so much for always bringing beauty and encouragement into the world.
Pamela, Thank you oh so much. You have no idea how much your words mean. The boys certainly help keep the spirits up as does the sunshine and the arrival of spring. Thank you again, and thank you for your visit. I will continue to do my best to bring the sunshine to be found on TSLL. 🙂
What a lovely post, Shannon. I echo Pamela’s thoughts…couldn’t say it any better! Have a blessed Easter and enjoy the day! Here is Wisconsin, we are supposed to get lots of snow and cold weather for the next week. It’s lovely to see posts of warmer-weather locals where the earth is waking up…here we have to wait a bit longer.
Jeannine, Thank you very much ??
Do you have a great pillow to recommend?
I want to echo the others who’ve said they find your blog/podcast a soothing place to “hide” during these unsettled times. Thank you!
Thank you for sharing. I appreciate and am humbled to know this blog is a safe and soothing destination during our current times. Pillows. I love down pillows, and I have both standard and Euro sizes. The standard are from Pacific Coast (they have many different options, these are the ones I purchased – https://amzn.to/3ckEMWJ). My Euro pillows are from Pottery Barn, but there is nothing fancy about them. I recommend visiting Pacific Coast’s website and the prices are reasonable and there are often sales – https://www.pacificcoast.com