Sunday, November 16, 2008

Creating the Senses of Home

There's more to the style and feel of a home than just its decor. To create a real sense of home, you have to think about all the senses - sight, touch, smell, sound and even taste. Have you ever attended a party in a lovely home but felt something was lacking? You probably couldn't even put your finger on what it was. Well, in all likelihood, that home wasn't appealing to enough of your senses.

Sight - This is the sense that most people think about when decorating a room. In general, this is the most immediate sense addressed in houses. The colors of the room, the style of the furnishings, the placement of items and the overall layout all speak to one's sense of sight. However, to create a greater sense of harmony and cohesion, one must travel beyond merely the sense of sight and appeal to other senses as well.

Touch - Maybe this doesn't necessarily come to the forefront of one's mind when creating a livable environment, but you definitely work with it whether you realize it or not. If you want to create a casual space, you pick soft, comfortable fabrics such as woven cotton. If you want to convey a sense of elegance you choose smooth, shiny surfaces such as mirrors, silks, glass and metallic objects. If you're decorating a summer residence by the beach you would probably choose durable fabrics for the furnishings and light linens for the windows, and if you want to create a cozy environment you would turn to plush pieces in luxurious fabrics like velvet. Never underestimate the power of touch - you may have the most beautiful sofa in the world, but if it's uncomfortable and has a fabric with a rough, wiry texture, no one will ever sit on it!

Smell - In addition to interior design, my company, Cailen Ascher Design, also offers home staging services. As a final step when attempting to create a welcoming, inviting environment, I always use a homey smell, such as fresh baked cookies or mulled apple cider to welcome potential buyers. Our sense of smell is the most powerful sense for memory recall. More so than any other, our sense of smell brings us back to happy times, fond memories and wonderful occasions. Especially when entertaining, use the sense of smell to your advantage. In the summer, decorate with vases of fresh flowers to cast a soft fragrance. In addition, open doors and windows to air-out your home with a wonderfully fresh smell. In the fall, fires in fireplaces can cast a homey smell as does hot cider or even scented candles. (Use candles sparingly because some scents can be overwhelming and never place near food!) In the winter and around the holidays fresh baked cookies, spice breads or other baked goods are always a wonderful way to greet guests and fragrance your home.

Sound - Have you ever been to a restaurant where there was no background music? It often feels ever-so-slightly uncomfortable because you're acutely aware of silence as well as other people's conversations. Think about this in your own home when entertaining. Music can really set the tone for your party whether it's an intimate dinner party or a large gathering. Music fills up the empty spaces and puts guests at ease if there's ever a gap in conversation.

Taste - Though not always essential, a home that serves up great food in addition to wonderful atmosphere really takes the cake. Food doesn't have to be complicated and varied to be delicious. When hosting a party, stick to a simple menu that you're comfortable with and know you can do well, and you're assured to have success!

If you aim to appeal to many (if not all) of the senses in your house and when you entertain, you're bound to impress all who visit your home!

For more information about Cailen Ascher Design or my upcoming book, Well-Designed Living, visit or email

1 comment:

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