Most of us immediately think of our visual sense — appealing to the eye — when we begin to decorate or accessorize a room. But visual appeal is only the first step in the process, the first layer of the onion so to speak.

Once you master using paint to add a pop of interest to a wall or drop a multi-colored pillow onto a neutral sofa to heighten interest, take it a step further. Try one or more of the following tips to indulge your other senses; they’ll add depth, complexity and new dimension to your decorating project:

1. Juxtapose two opposite tactile experiences in your decorating. For example, contrast the softness of fluffy pillows and luxurious Egyptian bed linens by selecting a sturdy or slightly rough fabric for the comforter, bed spread or other bed covering. Fabrics such as brocade, velvet or even corduroy will intensify the softness of the pillows and linens because these raised fabrics’ texture tends to feel slightly rough to the skin.

2. Incorporate the sense of smell into your designs in obvious ways such as colorful flower arrangements that welcome in a very special way. Choose flowers with a strong floral scent such as gardenia or roses. Another way to use the sense of smell is to tuck potpourri or sachet in unexpected places, such as between the mattress and box spring or under a sofa cushion.

3. Underlay the mood in a room by tapping the sense of sound. All of us can’t live near the beach and hear the crashing of waves or the plaintive call of sea gulls to punctuate our décor with sound. Soothing music playing in the background is calming and relaxing. Choose an instrumental version of your favorite artist. Soft music playing stimulates conversation and helps digestion! Also don’t forget the jarring aspect of some noises, such as traffic from a nearby busy street. Take this into consideration when choosing window treatments, for example, and select a heavier fabric that can muffle some of these types of outside noises.

4. Highlight décor with color. Using color to establish eye appear is as easy as painting one wall of a neutrally colored room with a splash of color. Red, lime green, even orange, can be overpowering in large doses, but used on one wall or strategically in pillows, rugs or other accessories add visual interest. Color is an easy way to wake up a traditional design theme.

5. Don’t forget your sense of taste. Just as a delicious meal would not be complete without dessert, decorating for and with our senses would not be complete without adding your favorite sweet. Having a bowl of your favorite chocolates or a decanter of your favorite wine provides the perfect finishing touch.


Photo below: You don’t have to actually taste the candy in these dishes to experience how flavorful this young girl’s room is. (Photo: Courtesy of Penny Law)

Penny Law is owner of PCL Interiors, a personalized studio specializing in residential design. Visit her Web site at

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