Are you easily stimulated by scent, light, and sound? Are you easily overwhelmed when you have a full schedule? Do you take special care to avoid things that just rub you the wrong way, like violent TV shows or movies?
If so, you may be a highly sensitive person (HSP). Before you dismiss this term as a new-age excuse for being picky and neurotic, it’s believed that HSP’s make up 15-20% of the population.
You may be an HSP or live with someone who’s highly sensitive— a spouse, roommate, child, or even a pet. To know how to decorate for a highly sensitive person, you must first understand what makes them tick.
I’m an HSP and have been my entire life, but have only understood this during the last 5 years or so. Since then, I’ve learned how to customize my home to honor my nature and be a welcoming space. Even after having a fun-filled girls night out, I still need a place to unwind.
Choose comfy fabrics. In the HSP’s home, fabrics should be considered with the utmost attention. This entails the fabrics used on furniture, pillows, bedding, towels, rugs, throws, and even napkins. Bottom line: if it will be touched, it needs to be soft and appealing. Coarse fabrics like wool and burlap are a no-go.
I tend to use cotton or a cotton/poly blend for my home textiles (clothing too!) because it’s breathable and practical. Chenille is also wonderful for the way it feels on the skin. Even in the summer with the A/C on, I’ll use a throw blanket in a thick chenille.
Fabrics also helps to create the energy of a room. In my bedroom, I wanted the room to feel airy and light. Thus, I created this canopy-inspired “headboard,” using a flowy, soft fabric for the swag.
Create a mood with colors. It’s key to have a basic understanding of color psychology when decorating. For instance, cool hues tend to be relaxing while bright or warm hues are energizing. In my office, I need to stay focused and alert, not relaxed. Thus, I used pops of color, such as with this vintage desk I painted a lively teal.
Monochromatic color schemes are great for infusing a space with color but in a way that doesn’t feel overpowering. Also, consider the HSP’s favorite colors, as these can easily make the person feel comfortable.
Avoid harsh lighting. Overhead lighting is the bane of the highly sensitive person—unless it’s used discerningly. This means creating softer light with less wattage and/or diffused diffused light. I covered this lampshade in a metallic yarn to create a cozier effect in my dining area:
Table lamps play a large role in the highly sensitive person’s home, as they’re key in setting the proper ambiance. For instance, I like a lot of light during the daytime but at night, I lower the lighting to help unwind. Three-way lamps and even candles are great for this.
If you’re sensitive to light when sleeping, black-out curtains are a great idea. You could even combine these curtains with dark walls to create a womb-like effect.
Create a space to call your own. The HSP often needs time and space to decompress, even from a non-stressful life. Because we’re sensitive to so much around us, having our own getaway space is essential.
In my previous home, I made a corner of my bedroom into a sacred space. In this area, I could meditate or just recline and unwind from the day. Click here for tips on how to create a sacred space in your home.
Pay special attention to the power of sounds. For the highly sensitive person, even day-to-day sounds can wreak havoc on their nerves. To help alleviate this, soundproof the rooms in your home. Blocking out sound can be done by decorating with floor coverings like carpeting or thick rugs, or with lots of books like in this room:
Hanging fabric on the walls is another option: you can create your own wall hanging, use a decorative quilt or hang a rug. Portières are also helpful for keeping outside sound from coming in (and vice versa).
If you’re the HSP and can’t control the amount of sound (such as living in an apartment), there are still easy options to keep you on even keel. Using headphones/earplugs or a white noise device has been super helpful to my sanity. Mellow music (think yoga playlists) can also create a relaxed environment.
Infuse your space with nature. One of my favorite ways to decompress is to take a walk outside, preferably in the woods. There’s just something about nature that allows me to feel present and centered.
I carry that healing energy into my home by decorating with natural elements. This includes as many houseplants as I can grow, lots of wooden decor, stone, sand, etc.
You could even combine the healing power of nature with your sacred space, creating a green-filled getaway.
There are probably many more tips out there to help an HSP have the perfect atmosphere at home; these are just what’s worked best for me. Paying attention to these aspects has been quite beneficial and has made my home a sanctuary.
Are you a highly sensitive person (HSP) or do you know someone who is? Have you ever lived with an HSP? Would you use these tips, even if you aren’t highly sensitive? Do you have any other tips you’d like to add?