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Learn how to decorate for all 5 senses for a fully sensory experience in your home. Here are 5 tips for 5 senses.

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When we decorate a room, we tend to focus on how it looks. Colors and shapes are our main concern. But we all experience spaces through all five of our senses–sight as well as touch, smell, hearing and taste.

Good home decor can be based on sight alone; however, the best home decor appeals to all five sense. Let’s have a look at how to optimize your home for all the different ways we experience the world.

Decor for sight

Since it’s the most obvious, let’s begin with sight.

Sight is activated by colors, shapes, movement and light. A decor optimized for sight uses interesting color schemes (“interesting” can mean many things: monochrome or contrasting, triads or eclectic). It also uses different shapes–angular or circular, balanced or unequal–to lead the eye around the room.

This, along with light, creates movement in the room. Light can be used in many ways as well: soft and suffused for a soft effect, or stark and dramatic to highlight art or areas of a room while darkening others.

You can also have literal movement with rotating or lava lamps or bulbs that change color.

With these four elements–colors, shapes, movement and light–you can decorate a room to please anyone’s eyes.

Decor for touch

Well-decorated rooms are pretty to look at, but few of us just stand around looking at space, no matter how pretty it is. We sit, we lie down; our skin comes in contact with things.

What should you look for when decorating for touch? The main element is textures.

Textures can be soft or rough, flexible or hard, smooth or rugged. Textures also have a visual element: a rugged stucco wall also looks stubbly.

bamboo shag rug wood flooring

Yanchi Area Rugs from BuildDirect – Bamboo Shag “Ivory Shag” / 3’x5′

Obviously, anything you spend a lot of time sitting or lying on should be soft. Couches, bed covers and even chair seats are more comfortable if they are soft and flexible. Don’t forget your feet: do you prefer the warmth and softness of carpet or the smoothness of hardwood, porcelain or stone?

Make working areas more pleasant by focusing on smoothness and ease of cleaning. Hard surfaces like wood and stone are interesting to play with. Stone, especially, can have different feels: honed and polished marble feed different on the skin. Wood tends to be warmer to the touch.

What sensations would you like to transmit through touch? Combine different types of textures to heighten the sense of touch.

Decor for smell

Smell is a bit more difficult to optimize for. Have you ever noticed how you don’t smell your own house after a while? That’s because your smell receptors have been over-filled with the odor molecules specific to your house, so you can’t really smell it anymore.

Our homes fill up with the usual smells of living: your soap or shampoo, your favourite home-cooked meals, pets, etc. But you can also have a little bit of control over what your home smells like to guests.

I’m personally partial to scented reeds, which have a subtle aroma that can be changed easily with the oil you put them in. They’re also pretty, especially if you buy those special bottles to put them in. Scented candles work too, but they’re a fire risk, and many rental buildings don’t allow them. “Plug-ins” sold in hundreds of varieties also work, but I personally find them a bit strong. And they waste electricity.

Never underestimate the benefit of opening a window, either. Sometimes the fresh smell of the grass after a shower is a wonderful way to refresh the smell of your home.

Decor for hearing

How do you decorate for the sense of hearing? Well, actually, what you put in a room actually has an influence on how the room sounds. Soft furnishings like couches and armchairs, along with carpets, absorb sound and make a room sound muffled. It’s great for intimate conversations, because your voice doesn’t carry very far.

On the other hand, hard, reflective surfaces like stone and porcelain make a room more “echo-y”. Your voice carries further. If you have a party, try to add soft textures to absorb some of the noise: soft furnishings, rugs and throws will help.

If you enjoy music, there are plenty of ways to turn a room into the perfect listening space.

dark cork flooring Evora cork from BuildDirect

Evora Cork – Porto Tile Collection – Glue Down Floor “Estrela”. Cork’s natural sound-dampening qualities make it a go-to if silence is considered golden in your house.

Decor for taste

Although we only taste what we eat, you can use decor to suggest specific foods, meals and tastes. Pastel colors are linked to sweetness, for example: they make you think of cakes and pies.

Using decor to enhance taste is obviously suitable for kitchens and dining rooms. Farmhouse-style decor highlights home-cooked food, good wine and peasant bread. Modern decor makes you crave contemporary, minimalist cuisine. (I personally dream of sushi when I see a modern kitchen.) See where this is going?

Of course, whatever you decide to serve on your table will also determine how you decorate for taste. Serve good food and good wine, and you’ll never go wrong!

Senses alive

As you can see, there is more than just the sight to consider when planning your home decor. How do you want to appeal to the other senses? What impression or style do you want to transmit through your decor choices? Every little detail has an influence on one of the sense.

Which sense do you think has the best decor in your home? Which sense could you appeal to a little more? Let us know in the comments!

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.