Interiors for highly sensitive people

Part I

  • or how to create a space that does not overwhelm and supports everyday life

Introduction

Have you ever wondered what impact the space you live in has on your life and your well-being? What makes some interiors you want to be in and provide a lot of pleasure, but there are also some that we are reluctant to visit and immediately stimulate the escape reaction? Do you know why this is happening?

Neuro architecture is a still developing field of science that studies the influence of the environment on human well-being. Our brain reacts to its environment largely subconsciously. This field is important and, unfortunately, widely unknown and often overlooked. Speaking of broadly understood design, the basic issues that are most often mentioned by designers and customers at the beginning are functionality and aesthetics. These are of course very important aspects, but … there are also a number of other factors, crucial for 15-20% of the population, that can make being in a given space a real pleasure or a real nightmare.

This post will be about the senses and special people for whom multi-sensory, very intense perception of the environment is an issue that they struggle with on a daily basis and which can often be a burden. I am talking about highly sensitive people. High sensitivity is an evolutionary trait with a genetic basis. Such people have increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli. They experience, process and notice much more intensely and much more than the rest of the population.

I learned about the importance of high sensitivity from books by E. Aron. Getting to know the world of Highly Sensitive People, I felt as if someone had x-rayed me through and then described it in a logical and scientific way, supported by research. In one moment, everything that I couldn’t explain logically found its source. Based on a deeper feeling and constantly expanding my knowledge of interior design, there was a natural need for me to create spaces that are supportive and give a sense of belonging. Those that have a positive effect on our well-being, allow us to regenerate and rest from the stimuli we bring from the outside.

As an interior designer and a highly sensitive person, I would like to introduce the topic to those who want to enjoy being in their space. I hope that my tips will help Highly sensitive people to adjust the interior to their needs, and make designers aware of the challenges that Highly Sensitive people face in their everyday lives.

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Perception of space at different levels

If you are a Highly Sensitive person, you probably know that your brain processes sensory information much more intensively. You feel the emotions, atmosphere and energy of other people. This also applies to your surroundings and places where you are. You are overwhelmed by an excess of stimuli, strong smells, loud and unexpected sounds, artificial and sharp light. You have a strong sense of aesthetics and sensitivity to details, often overlooked by others. You notice many subtleties, you pay attention to colors, shapes, textures and forms. With this awareness, you can tune the interior to your own needs, soothing your senses and minimizing the risk of stimulating.

FUNCTIONALITY

Before choosing an apartment

Functionality is a very broad issue depending individually on the space. Before choosing an apartment, it is worth paying attention to such factors as: window tightness, general acoustics resulting from the location, daylight and artificial interior lighting, room layout, comfortable ventilation and efficient ventilation, soundproof sewage pipes. You can also adjust the functional layout to your needs by making changes to the layout of partition walls. Apartments with good proportions provide more options for rearrangement and adaptation of the interior to your needs, so it is good to consult an architect on the possibilities of its arrangement before buying to make sure that it is possible to introduce any changes. Each apartment is different, but if I were to suggest general factors that should be taken into account when choosing an apartment, I recommend avoiding sharp angles, narrow, dark corridors and rooms with small windows. A good way is to view the interior at different times of the day, paying attention to the surrounding sounds and the light pattern. Natural lighting creates the atmosphere of the interior and has a significant impact on our well-being. Dark interiors are overwhelming, especially in the cold season. Sounds coming from a noisy street or from behind a wall from a neighbor can be a very problematic factor, impossible to eliminate, which many people find out only after living in. Needless to say, Highly Sensitive people are particularly vulnerable to this discomfort.

Storage

One of the components of a well-planned interior is having sufficient storage space. WWO people are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of clutter, as it is reflected in their feelings of powerlessness and chaos. There are many ways I can make housekeeping easier and natural.

One of them is custom-made furniture, which has the advantage that we can make the most of the space, adjust the color and equipment according to our preferences. It is a very convenient solution, especially in kitchens, bathrooms, wardrobes, but also in unusual, very individual spaces. Thanks to this, we can increase the amount of storage space by using, for example, the space above the refrigerator, washing machine or by creating a seat in the hall with a shoe drawer and a handy hanger. A way to avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed can be to create the effect of “blending the furniture into the wall”, that is, use the same color on the furniture fronts and on the wall. The “concealment” effect with space maximization can be created by a room-wide development, made to measure with the use of handle-free furniture fronts that open to the touch (tip on). Closed cabinets, through their simple form, bring a sense of peace to the interior, minimize the amount of cleaning, but also prevent WWO people from being stimulated by the amount of visible things. Simple furniture fronts bring harmony and order to the interior, thanks to which we can pay attention to interesting stylistic accents or details that provide us with a sense of beauty and evoke pleasant memories. Additional storage space can also be found under the bed in the form of a drawer or a tilting mattress frame.

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Zoning the apartment

The division into functional zones is important and makes it much easier to maintain order. Often, even in small apartments, it is possible to have a work corner where we can keep our things in one specific place. Highly sensitive people, especially introverts, as a rule like to spend time with each other because that’s their nature and then they load up. In response to this need, it is good if such a person has their own space, and if there is no such possibility, let it be at least their own corner, where they have their own comfortable armchair. Sitting in an armchair with the awareness of time for himself, he may temporarily cut himself off from the life going on at home. Just knowing that you have your own place is healing for many.

When talking about functionality, it is worth making sure that the distances between the elements of equipment are above all comfortable, supported by basic knowledge in the field of ergonomics. Writing this article with WWO people in mind, I would like to draw your attention to low, dark rooms, slants, curved walls as well as corners and angles so that they do not interfere with everyday life. Details such as handles, switches, taps, furniture handles are pleasant to the touch if they have a more natural, streamlined shape. If we have an interior that is atypical and has an irregular layout, one of the solutions may be to use a round table, which will soften the relationship between the angles. Gluing the chairs with felt pads will not only protect the floor from quick scratches, but also minimize the amount of sounds coming from, among others, such a prosaic and necessary activity as moving chairs.

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LIGHTING

Zones in the interior have a significant impact on adjusting lighting to specific activities. It is worth planning them so that you can regulate them depending on your needs. WWO people prefer soft, dim light, so the answer to their need to adjust will be the ability to adjust the intensity. The main light is used to illuminate the entire room, but it will not work if we want to create an atmospheric atmosphere or read a book. For such activities, it is good to have separate light sources, such as a standing lamp, wall lamps, bedside lamps or interior wardrobe lighting. Indirect, soft light promotes relaxation and does not tire your eyesight. Thanks to such lighting, we can control the “climate” of the interior. During the purchase & nbsp; of bulbs it is worth paying attention not only to the aesthetics of the housing & nbsp; and the power of light, but also its color. The warm color of light will work well in the living room, bedroom, children’s room. The colder one is dedicated to offices, working rooms and bathrooms. Assuming that we have an apartment well lit by daylight, in summer & nbsp; its inflow can be regulated by e.g. roller blinds, blinds, blackout curtains. & nbsp; Such solutions allow you to adjust the amount of daylight in the interior depending on the season, time of day and our preferences.

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MATERIALS AND ACOUSTICS

Bad acoustics of the interior can irritate everyone, let alone WWO people. The clatter of shoes on the panels, the crackle of closed cabinets, the clang of a glass being put down on a glass table top, squeaky, loud doors, and an unexpected sound of the light switch distract and stimulate WWO people. The way to minimize the amount of annoying noises in the interior can be the use of fabrics, wallpapers, carpets, curtains, upholstered furniture. Sometimes specialized solutions are needed, such as, for example, acoustic mats, sound-absorbing panels, cork cladding or soundproofing ceilings or walls from the neighbor’s side. The ideal situation is when we can consciously choose solid materials, such as the floor, before living in, but this is not always possible, especially in apartments bought second-hand.

We can, however, consciously choose smaller pieces of equipment, such as, among others, a silent clock, a slowly closing toilet seat, and opt for soft-close furniture. It all adds up to the comfort of the functioning of all household members, not only WWO people. Having been a user of a table with a glass top for many years, I must admit that despite the good design, the sound of the tableware in contact with the glass during family gatherings was not pleasant and neutral.

When choosing materials for the interior, I recommend that you test them in various ways – check whether the sofa is comfortable and pleasant to touch, whether the door provides the right level of sound insulation, whether the bathroom tiles are subjectively perceived as too rough or rough, or the fittings do not have too sharp angles. These choices will also result in ease of cleaning. If we bought an apartment in a developer standard, I would consider using underfloor heating to minimize the thermal shock to our feet during the night visit to the bathroom.

The use of a carpet in a children’s room, living room and bedroom will not only solve the problem of stamping noises, but also provide a pleasant feeling after getting out of bed. A wooden floor is more demanding to maintain than panels, but its great advantage is that it is a natural material that is pleasant to touch and use. Natural materials add nobility to the interior, look beautiful and can be renewed over time.

The smell of finishing materials for people with an acute sense of smell is no less important than the visual aspects. For this reason, I recommend avoiding plastics, harsh chemicals and old furniture that can carry an intense, characteristic smell. In old apartments, also those bought second-hand, the smells and existing smells are inscribed in this place and closely related to the lifestyle of the previous owners. Getting rid of these smells often requires painting, removing old wallpapers, that is … general renovation.

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Pay attention to the objects you surround yourself with

This rule applies not only to highly sensitive people, but also fans of minimalism, Marie Kondo’s assumptions, and followers of slow life. The idea of ​​not collecting things is based on collecting, above all, moments and memories. An inseparable element of this idea is the priority of quality over quantity, buying good-quality things in a thoughtful way that will serve for years.

The aspect of minimalism in relation to WWO people relates primarily to maintaining external harmony and order without a feeling of excess. Another point is that things bring back memories. It’s good to surround ourselves with objects that promote our well-being, rather than draining our energy and making us feel powerless and overwhelmed with excess.

It is worth taking care of the content that reaches us visually. A respite can be provided by graphics with a green theme, plants that purify the air as a bonus, pictures reminiscent of soothing landscapes.

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The topic of interior design in the aspect of WWO people is so extensive that while writing the fifth page, I still feel unsatisfied and I have the impression that this is just the beginning. The second part will be a style guide for WWO people. Let me know how you liked it and it gave you a new perspective on adapting your surroundings to your needs.

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