Designing for the Senses

All of your senses should be inspired when you walk through a house so I believe designing for the experiential is one of the most important things I do for my clients. There are questions I ask myself as I’m going through the process of creating the program, one of the earliest being how is a home going to express its sense of beauty? I’m very tactile and I think a home should be tactile in every sense of the word. I want people to be drawn to surfaces and upholstery—to want to touch things. That’s one of the highest compliments someone can pay me as an interior designer.

This means I give a great deal of attention to finishes to make sure that everything feels both sophisticated and cozy. Many people might argue that these are diametrically opposed but I disagree. Achieving both could mean placing some type of super interesting tile on the wall or a wallpaper that creates an alluring depth. Art is also a very important component in any discussion of the sensory because the art should be uplifting to the sense of sight. 

Placing art in interiors takes special care in an interior with a view.

But there is an extra challenge where art is concerned in Coastal California: paintings and photography should never take away from the view, they should work with the views so that each piece all but disappears or enhances the views in some way. As a Laguna Beach-based interior designer, so many choices I make in a home have to balance with the vistas, as many of them are ocean panoramas that extend all the way to the western horizon. 

How it feels to the senses to be in a home is a careful consideration for Payton Addison.

Some sensory experiences are more visceral and less defined, such as how it “feels” to be in a home. This could be impacted by something as simple as how the furniture groupings are arranged. It was interesting to me when Fung Shui came on the American scene because I had always naturally arranged rooms with this discipline in mind without even knowing it. You don’t want to walk into the room in which the first thing you see is sofa with its back to you—that would feel very unwelcoming even if the person experiencing the feeling wasn’t consciously aware of it. 

A contemporary California residence designed by Payton Addison Atelier.

How a house flows is a very big consideration in this respect. You’d never want to put a large, cumbersome chandelier in the middle of your ocean views because it would frustrate those who enter the space expecting to see an uninterrupted panorama of water; you want to open up their senses rather than challenge them. How a kitchen will function is an issue of the utmost importance, and not just for the configuration of the appliances and sinks, but how the cabinets are designed so that all of the gadgets needed for meal prep can be stored out of sight. Clutter is definitely a no-no in a home designed for the senses. 

A contemporary California kitchen designed by Payton Addison Atelier.

We’ve been known to put aromatherapy in a client’s home when we’ve had discussions about how much he or she is soothed by scents because we know that the aromas in a home can be an instant mood-changer. If we know a client has a career with a great deal of responsibility, we will encourage them to include spas and saunas in their homes, which will ease the stress away at the end of each of those trying days and be satisfying to the senses. We’ve gravitated toward infrared saunas because things here in California tend to be centered around wellness and wellbeing. Everything must be highly considered in the sensually-designed home and we’ve been told by so many clients that this is one of our specialties. This makes us very happy! 

A contemporary California at-home spa designed for the senses by Payton Addison atelier.

Payton Addison Interior Design Atelier was founded in 2009 by Payton Addison. Located in the heart of the HIP district in Laguna Beach along the Southern California coast, the firm’s interior design services are sought after in the region and beyond. In all aspects of  residential interior design, Payton Addison is a name synonymous with creating luxury oceanfront homes and elegant residences with canyon views for an elite clientele. Click through to see a selection of her portfolio, and take a look at her design philosophy to see if working with her and her team is a good fit. Visit Atelier 1444 to peruse the beautiful candles and pillows designed by Payton Addison, and art painted by her to experience her ability to transform daily life into a sumptuously vital experience.