Interior designer Kendall Ansell makes sense of homes with five-sense approach

    1 of 5 2 of 5

      When it comes to designing your dream space, there’s no doubt that the final product should look good. But it’s also worth considering how your home will affect your perceptions of touch, sound, smell, and, yes, even taste.

      “A lot of my clients will say, ‘Come see my house. There’s just something that’s not right about it. Something is just off,’ ” says local interior designer Kendall Ansell by phone. “It’s amazing that we actually need to engage all the senses in a home to make it feel good for human beings to live in.”

      According to Ansell, who serves as principal of her eponymous design firm, the way that a home is set up has the potential to affect our emotions greatly. Because of this, it’s important to evaluate even minute details, like the positioning of furniture and the coordination of different colours, textures, and fabrics, when putting together or revamping a space.

      Pile on the lush fabrics and pillows: "It's important to recognize what makes you comfortable in a space," says Ansell.

      “Interior designers look at the bigger picture,” Ansell explains. “How are you actually going to feel in the space? How do you move around in it? What’s the function of it? And all of these things, you can definitely hit with the senses.”

      So, how do you create a home that not only is aesthetically pleasing, but feels and functions great, too? First things first: ditch the matching furniture.

      “I think a lot of people go and they buy showroom furniture, like, ‘This set here looks great, so we’ll buy that,’ ” Ansell says. “But there’s so much more to it.”

      The designer encourages mixing and matching your furnishings for a cozy, lived-in appearance that’s all your own. An assortment of vintage chairs can be placed around a more contemporary dining table, for example, or you can combine a patchwork of textured throw pillows on your sofa. The trick is to choose objects that you actually like, rather than ones that are simply trending or ripped straight from the pages of a magazine.

      Keep a tidy bedroom if it's visible from your living space to ensure pleasant sightlines.

      If you live in a smaller space, especially a condo, considering your sightlines is also important. Take into account which other rooms are visible from your space: chances are that spotting a muddled office from your living-room couch won’t evoke the same feeling of ease as the image of a spotless bedroom with a gorgeous, immaculately made bed.

      “The biggest thing is decluttering your space,” Ansell says. “That’s the one thing that people don’t realize that’s really hard on the psyche: piles of mess or just piles of things that don’t belong.”

      In terms of touch, the designer advises using only those materials and textures that make you feel comfortable at home. For some, this may mean opting for a chenille fabric over leather or avoiding velvet, full stop. Essentially, you want to surround yourself with “touchable” objects—ones that look more inviting than sterile and will draw you in after a long day.

      The kitchen is the heart of the home and what you have cooking has an effect on how you're feeling.

      The same goes for elements related to sound, smell, and taste: these items should ideally enhance your environment, creating a more pleasant or relaxing ambiance. Ansell suggests playing music to help drown out disruptive noises like traffic or construction or lighting aromatic candles to combat unpleasant odours.

      Of course, where there’s an alluring scent, there’s occasionally an appetizing treat, which can make almost any place feel more like home—so much so that it’s become a starting point for Ansell’s Balanced Home, a multidimensional, seven-bedroom space designed to appeal to all five senses while offering plenty of décor ideas, which will be showcased from Wednesday to Sunday (February 17 to 21) at the B.C. Home + Garden Show at B.C. Place Stadium.

      “A lot of it was inspired by my parents’ home, which really ticks all these ‘sense’ boxes,” she says, referring to the almost 2,000-square-foot feature. “It’s like that cozy home with the pantry that’s full of food.”

      Don't shy away from a bold coloursoftentimes, they can be more effective in lifting your mood than a neutral palette, says Ansell.

      In addition to offering samples of freshly baked goods from Vancouver’s Lemon Square, the Balanced Home will include a medley of engaging design elements like textured, two-tone wallpaper; pipe-and-plank shelving; a reupholstered antique chair reminiscent of the Victorian furnishings from Beauty and the Beast; and a life-size nursery mobile hung from a large tree branch. In other words, it’s a far cry from the generic fixtures and finishes of your typical model home.

      “I’m trying to show people that you can kind of think outside the box a little bit,” adds Ansell.

      Comments