What is the Connection Between Interior Design and Sensory Regulation?

I have already mentioned here that I used to work at a child development center. Today, I experience things from the other side, as a mother accompanying my Yehli to occupational therapy. Yehli, just like me, has sensory processing difficulties. This means that the way we perceive or interpret sensory stimuli in our daily lives is not regulated. Sometimes we are under-responsive and often we are over-sensitive to certain sensations. The battle Yehli fights against the labels on his clothes is just one of the prominent examples of his sensitivity to touch, but in reality, it also manifests in other sensory systems.

One of the tools I used as an occupational therapist, and I recently started using again as an interior designer, is a ‘typical day schedule’ where I ask the patients/clients to describe their daily routine and try to identify the difficulties through targeted questions. In interior design, the points that come up are mostly related to comfort, efficiency, storage, etc., but in families where there are family members suffering from sensory processing difficulties, issues related to their sensitivity to sounds, smells, and other sensations usually arise as well.

Since the phenomenon of sensory processing difficulties varies from person to person and can even change for the same person at different times in their life, it is not easy to treat and requires personalized adaptation by an occupational therapist. I, as mentioned, have not practiced the profession for several years and am not updated on the latest research in the field, but from my personal and family experience and from several clients quite similar to me, I have collected some general principles that can help this population (oops, that word sounds terrible… I mean people like me and those similar to me 😉 and these can be easily implemented when planning and designing their living environment.

When you think about it, we all live in a world filled with stimuli, sometimes just going out to the street can make you dizzy from the overload of signs, the sounds of vehicles, and different smells. How important it is that our home be a calmer and more suitable place for us.

So how do you design a home for people with sensory processing disorder?

If most people prefer their home to be as bright as possible, for people with SPD it is better to allow several lighting scenarios, including more minor lighting, which for most people might seem almost dark. Cold fluorescent light can be a real nuisance for such people, so even if there is already a fluorescent light fixture at home, changing the light to a warm yellow can significantly improve the situation.

Fluorescent – BIG NO!
Visual Clutter

I don’t think there’s anyone who enjoys a messy house, but for people and children with SPD, mess significantly impacts their quality of life. Even if they themselves are not tidy, they still need ‘visual calm’. The solution is, of course, closed storage and lots of it. I could add to designate a place for everything and reduce knick-knacks, but in the end, everyone has their methods of maintaining order. I’m not naturally tidy, but at some point, I realized that my need for order is not some preference of a perfectionist housewife, but a basic need that affects my peace of mind, my work productivity, and the atmosphere at home.

Visual sensitivity can manifest in different ways. I personally love various patterns, but I understand that not everyone finds them visually pleasing. When I showed a client a rug that I thought would suit him, and he said such a rug could give him an epileptic seizure… I realized that for him, it’s better to maintain visual calm in both prints and colors.

Cushions with beautiful prints by Jonathan Adler… hmmm maybe not


‘Standard’ noises typical of a busy street or, conversely, natural sounds that don’t pass through the natural filter and wouldn’t even reach most people’s consciousness can bother people with SPD. In such cases, I recommend considering a window with insulated glass and a sealed frame rather than settling for a regular triple-glazed one. Additionally, I try to place the bedroom in a non-frontal area if possible.

Even the ‘white’ noise of the house, like an air conditioner motor, refrigerator, etc., is more noticeable to people with auditory sensitivity, and it’s worth considering this when purchasing a new appliance. An important tip in this context is to add textiles to the home. Carpets, curtains, and cushions absorb white noise and echo, improving the acoustics in the space.

Textiles – beautiful and also absorb sound


I know… candles, oils, and diffusers can be a real treat for most people. But I personally really suffer when I enter a spa with such aromatic scents or even just a store with an overwhelming smell. Cooking smells I actually like, but if the house is not properly ventilated, they can also become torture. And we haven’t even talked about mold, mildew, etc. – what to do? Make sure in advance there is efficient ventilation in the bathrooms and cooking areas. Never settle for just a vent in wet areas – as good as it might be, it will never do the simple job of opening a window – and of course, a kitchen hood.

Candles in a lovely wrap from H&M HOME, but the scent could drive me crazy…


A bit embarrassing, but despite my awareness of the subject, I admit that it took me a while to understand why Yehli made up the rule that ‘board games are played only on the floor and not on the carpet’… He doesn’t like to sit on the Kilim rug in our living room and prefers to sit on the cool floor. Even with towels, we have those that are considered ‘fur towels’ and those that are ‘thorn towels’ (his definitions)… For bed linens, of course, I wouldn’t dare choose anything that isn’t made of cotton, and in short, you have to think twice about every texture that enters the house.

Alma modeling for pique and enjoying quality and comfortable bed linens

So these are the insights I have gathered from my experience that suited me and my little boy. Do you know people with sensory processing difficulties? Are you such a person yourself? Have you made any changes in the environment that helped you feel better? If so, share with me… I would be so happy!

  • If you want to read more about SPD – Sensory Processing Disorder, you can find general information in Hebrew here and more in-depth information in English here.

Our family photos were taken by the talented Moriah Stein, the photos of Alma for PIQUE were taken by the cool SimSisters.

If you liked this post, you might also be interested in Post for Mothers Only