Room Design for HSPs: How to Create the Fitting Living Space

High sensitivity has been a prominent topic for a while now. This comes as no surprise, with 15 to 20% of all people being highly sensitive, meaning that they take in and process much more inner and outer stimuli than other people.

I stumbled across the topic for the first time when Kathrin Sohst interviewed me for her first book “Zart im Nehmen”. We talked about the influence of the living environment for HSP. In the interview, I stressed the importance of a retreat area as a center of positivity. 

Since then, I have had quite a lot of encounters with people who know themselves as HSPs in a totally different sphere of my work. Often, they comment on my interior design projects which I present in my blog or on facebook – especially on Home Staging projects. It turns out that rooms that have been staged seem to be especially appealing to HSPs (“A blessing for the eyes”). 

But why is that? What makes staged rooms especially attractive to HSPs?

To find out why let’s have a look at the core characteristics of HSPs:

  • Quickly overstrained
  • A pronounced sense for aesthetics
  • A good feeling for colors and shapes
  • An eye for the details

Rooms that have been arranged according to Home Staging principles match these characteristics in the following fours aspects:

 

  1. A light and rather reduced furnishing regarding the number of furniture and decorational items
  2. No visible everyday objects: no clothes and shoes in the entry, no used towels on the tub, etc.
  3. A stringent color and design concept
  4. Sufficient, well placed light that has the right light color.

Now, Home Staging is a merchandising tool. It aims at optimizing the selling of real estate. Therefore, it does not create rooms for everyday use by real people but rooms that show the character of the object. It does not need to integrate everyday items and all the stuff you accumulate over the years.

However, seeing that Home Staging principles match characteristics and needs of HSPs, we can derive from them specific tips for creating a living environment that is right for highly sensitive persons. This kind of design (the staging kind) creates harmonic rooms without sensory overload. That’s why they are so fitting for HSPs.

 

So here is how to create your own HSP haven:

1. A light and reduced furnishing

That means: as little furniture and decoration as possible in order to manage point 2.

For that it is necessary not to accumulate too much stuff but to surround yourself (ideally) only with what you really need and/or love. (Here we are touching the topic of minimalism, which is very present at the moment).

Regarding furniture, it helps to do without large or massive built-in furniture as it takes away a lot of light and breathing space. You can achieve a calm feel by placing some well chosen single pieces of furniture with enough space between them.

2. Try not to have things lying around

Not so easy, you might say, especially when living as a family with kids. Right. However, you can create the conditions that help keeping a room calm (as opposed to over-stimulating) – and the more you are the more important this is:

Every item needs its home, meaning a place that is reserved for it, either in a cupboard or drawer. Furniture with storage space behind doors helps to reduce visual stimuli. If single items stay visible they should be placed deliberately as design elements: towels for example could be placed one by one neatly folded instead of several of them being tossed over one hook. Ok, provided there is space to do that, but you get what I mean. It’s the little things, the small details, that make the difference. (There is an awesome book showing how to get things organized at home: “Remodelista“. See details below!)

 

3. A Color Concept.

It pays to invest time in creating a color concept for your rooms or even better, the whole flat or house. The better you tame the wild world of the colors the more harmonious and calm your living space becomes. That does not necessarily mean monochromatic. It can be colorful, it does not have to be boring – but with a plan and not random because things just piled up. There are color combinations that are agitating while others emit tranquility. Colors have a massive influence on our rooms.

There are techniques to work out good and fitting color concepts. However, going into detail here would be too much for this article. In any way, a color wheel is a good investment.

4. Finally: the lighting

Every room needs enough natural and artificial light.

Natural light can be managed easily by clever use of curtains. In general, you should use as few curtains as possible because even the thinnest sheen of fabric takes away a lot of light. However, to break too hard sunlight or protect your privacy you can use different types and layers of curtains, always as little as possible.

As for the artificial light there is the following rule: each room needs one main light source (mostly on the ceiling) and at least 3 other sources of light. These additional sources are mostly used to define areas of a room, such as a reading corner, the dining area and so on. Their second function is to create pleasing ambient lighting. For that it is very important that these light sources have the right light color, meaning a white light that is not too cold and not too warm. (This can be tricky with modern LED lamps.)

These four principles can be applied rather easily in your own home. You may not be able to implement them 100 % but they will help you to approximate your ideal home and create pleasing and harmonious rooms in which you can relax and recreate, so that your house becomes your feel-good home.

 

*****

A really inspiring book that shows how to get the things at your home organized ist the Remodelista Manual. Not only great tips, but also beautiful to look at: calm and clean. Highly recommended!

Julie Carlson & Margot Guralnick: A Remodelista Manual: The Organized and Artful Home: Pare Down, Put Away and Discover the Joy of Uncluttering. Workman Publishing, 2017.

(Links to amazon are partner-links. If you buy the book at amazon, I get a few Cent)

 

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