Last week we talked about the Transitions theory of design that helps connect a home, and the people in it, to natural and community environments beyond. This week we want to bring the focus inward and talk about the sensual home. A well designed home will engage all of our senses.


Sight is perhaps the most obvious sense when we think about design. There are many ways a home can engage our eyes. We can create pleasing sight lines inside the home and also can attract our gaze beyond the home. We can use trim details to frame an attractive vista or invite us into a room. We can take advantage of natural lighting to make a room come alive as it changes throughout the day. Or, we can use artificial light to set a mood for the room or assist in a certain task.


Sound plays an important part in design. What can we do to allow sound to enhance our homes? We can place a water feature near a sleeping area to provide a restful atmosphere. We can entice songbirds to visit so that we can enjoy their songs as we eat breakfast. We can create a whole house sound system or perhaps focus on a specific room, so that music can add joy to our every day.


Smell may seem an odd design criterion, but it is also very important. Smell evokes memories of the past. While we are unlikely to be able to duplicate the smell of Grandma’s special cookies baking, we understand that fond memories are associated with the smell of good food cooking. Other smells such as a fresh breeze, old books, or a rose garden may stir memories within us. It is important to use design to capture such elements that will delight us and those who visit our home.


Providing contrasting textures in design can invite us to notice our sense of touch. Connecting and interacting with our natural environment also enlivens our sense of touch. Creating an outdoor space where we can sit and read a book while feeling the breeze can rejuvenate us. Outdoor showers that provide privacy and an intimate connection to the natural environment are becoming increasingly popular.


For most families, the kitchen is the heart of the house. It is where we spend time creating the food we love, food that is often defined by where we grew up and our ethnic and religious upbringing. When entertaining, the kitchen becomes the focal point. When we can tie what we eat and how we eat to the design of our home, we can create a sense of connection that allows us to feel happy and well nourished.

Our home is much more than a place to sleep and watch television. When we allow our homes to engage all our senses, we create more the just space – we create lifestyle.