Using the Five Senses to Improve Your Home

In my other life I am a writer and poet. Often, I perceive the world as a sensory experience, gleaning details from my surroundings to include in a piece of writing. As a writer, I look for vibrant settings to enhance my fiction, or listen for unusual rhythms to influence my poetry. I try to eat mindfully and wear soft clothing. I live through the senses. And because sensation is such a part of my life, I make sure that my home is a pleasing sensory experience too. Here are some ideas for improving the harmony in your home using the five senses as your guide.


One of the first things I notice in any space, whether it is my home or an office building, is the way it smells. Paying attention to scent is practical for health and safety reasons, but scent can make a big difference in making a space “feel” good. I’ve placed a essential oil diffuser right next to my front door and I can’t tell you how many times my guests have said “your house smells amazing” as they walk in the door. Candles, incense, and home sprays can all help with scent. Just make sure that these items are made with essential oils–sometimes perfumes and fragrances can cause headaches. Other tips:

  • open the windows for fresh air
  • make sure laundry, sheets, and dishes are cleaned regularly
  • empty garbage cans regularly
  • put dry food (human and pet) in ceramic, glass or plastic containers to limit the smell
  • put lavender satchels in your drawers


Supporting yourself with delicious, healthy foods is good for your body but having fresh food is also good Feng Shui. Fresh produce and herbs are excellent for enlivening your sense of taste. They also serve as a reminder to make healthy choices and bring the energy of health to a living space.

  • clean out your refrigerator often
  • place fruit in a bowl on the counter, lemons are a great choice!
  • hang pictures of fruit in your kitchen
  • treat yourself to one unusual food per week–add it to your grocery list


When we think of comfortable sensations in our homes we often think about whether or not we want to linger on a couch, or sit in the chairs around the dining room table for long conversations after a meal. Pillows and sheets, upholstery, even the toilet paper we use can affect our sense of touch, too. And don’t forget food! The texture of the foods we eat can be just as satisfying as the way they taste.

  • buy yourself a pair of pajamas with fabric that you love (cotton, flannel, satin)
  • use comfortable pillows where they are needed, (accent chairs, couches, and of course your bed!)
  • make sure to vacuum and/or sweep often, especially if you like to walk around in bare feet
  • use an accent rug with long threads in a room where you’d like to spend time on the floor (for example in a reading nook or a space used for stretching and yoga)


I think we rely on our sight the most when it comes to our homes, but only when it comes to deciding whether or not it’s time to clean up! Look around your living space, are you using shapes and colors in ways that are exciting/stimulating for you? Have you surrounded yourself with objects that are meaningful and visually beautiful?

  • paint your walls (a solid color, or try a mural if you’re feeling artistic)
  • use plants in round pots with rounded, upward growing leaves to add some dimension
  • order a print of your favorite painting and hang it somewhere you’ll see it often
  • walk through your home and see if you can find all the colors of the rainbow. If you find there’s a lot of one color throughout your whole house, try changing it up.


Noise can be a major distraction–and it’s especially problematic if your living space is affected by outdoor noises (or neighbors). Ambient or white noise, can help, but it’s even better to be mindful of the soundscape before you move into a living space. How thin are the walls? Is the living space located next to busy streets, on the route to a hospital, next to train track or under a flight path? Even if you don’t have noise problems, the flow of sound in a living space can be challenging, or soothing, depending on how it’s managed. Nature sounds, single instruments like piano or guitar, singing, and chanting can all be soothing sounds to introduce to your space.

  • use ambient sound or white noise to block out unwanted sounds
  • play music to enliven the space, especially in the morning or during meals
  • be mindful of how you move through your space–how many harsh sounds do you create?
  • wear earplugs at night if you are sensitive to sound

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