Decorating: use your skin

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About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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Photo by jared

I admit the sense of touch is the hardest one for me to write about. I have ideas, but they’re mostly intangible – like “make your home comfortable.” Who doesn’t know that already?

I recruited my husband to help, and together, we came up with a few ideas on how to make your home a haven using the sense of touch.

Use dryer sheets and/or fabric softener on your linens. I make my own simple dryer sheets using a sponge, fabric softener, and water, and that does the trick (while saving money). Keeping your towels and sheets snuggably soft really creates that comfortable touch.

Or line-dry your linens. That crisp feel is really nice, especially in warmer weather.

Open your windows in the early morning and late at night (unless you live in Texas, where it’s already 90 degrees by 8 a.m.). We’ve really enjoyed this lately – letting the breeze in when the coolness sets makes our home just the right temperature. And the breeze against your skin is so relaxing.

Keep throw blankets where people like to relax in your home. It’s inviting when you’re given permission to cozy up while chatting or reading.

Add some extra pillows where people veg. I know there’s different opinions on the value of throw pillows, but if you make them useable, and not just for display, I think they’re great. We have larger velour pillows in our living room that people use to sit on the floor.

Use comfortable fabric on said pillows. I’m not a big fan of stiff apholstery-type fabrics. Soft suedes, canvas, sturdy cotton, and linen are good fabric choices for pillows. Cloth napkins are perfect for recovering pillows – they’re usually just the right size, and they’re inexpensive enough to change often.

Have furniture for kicking up your feet. You’re really swimming upstream when you have young children and want to keep your furniture showroom quality. Let people put their feet on the coffee table, and you’ll really allow them to relax in your haven. We’ve had guests fall asleep on our couch while we’re chatting, and I love that (or it says something about my ability to hold a conversation).

• If you want people to take off their shoes in your home, provide a few slippers at the front door for them to use. That’s what people do in this country.

Decorate with nature. Use rocks and twigs to provide texture in your home. While this doesn’t directly use your sense of touch, the right texture indirectly provides that sense of depth and dimension.

Clean up sticky messes as they happen. Sounds obvious, I know, but I didn’t realize how sticky the chair was where our daughter sits at our outdoor dining area until I went to clean it. Weeks of syrup, ketchup, and peanut butter waiting to be scrubbed. Now I make a point to wipe off her chair after each outdoor meal.

Do your best to confine messy fun to areas that are cleanable. Again, this seems obvious, but I now go out of my way to make sure my daughter plays with her homemade play-doh far away from our rug. That took forever to pick out.

• Along those lines, give your kids touchable things for play time. Let them pour water back and forth between cups. Let them dig around in dried beans. Finger paint. Make play-doh. It’s great to let your kids explore their sense of touch at an early age. And by letting them do this in your home – well, now you’re a cool parent.

Do you have ideas to contribute? How do you make your home more of a haven using the elusive sense of touch? I’m looking forward to getting new ideas through your suggestions!

Check out the other articles about Decorating With the 5 Senses:

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Comments

  1. may I add one?

    for the throw pillows, different types of fabric would keep it interesting by adding varying textures. Velvet, silk (maybe just one), chenille and denim fabrics come to mind.

    great series. I’m looking forward to the rest.

  2. Good suggestions, Monica! Thanks for that.

  3. Great idea to make your own dryer sheets! I thought the only frugal thing to do there was rip them in half or use each sheet twice. I never thought of a sponge! Thanks!

  4. I keep a nice bottle of hand lotion next to the guest towels, and my guests like using it. I like knowing if I can put my feet up when I’m the guest.

    Rachel@SmallNotebooks last blog post..SmallNotebook is Moving!

  5. I thought of another one — having a clean, pretty dish towel hanging in the kitchen for drying hands. Sometimes dish towels can get grungy or hidden, and guests won’t know what they should use.

    Rachel@SmallNotebooks last blog post..SmallNotebook is Moving!

  6. I like to sit on the wooden floor: it is never cold, it is nice to touch and its colour is like a golden summer evening.
    We established a ‘talk corner’ on our wooden steps, where ONE child can sit and ask for some special time with his/her mom. It is not comfortable to sit, but anyway we like this wooden feeling.

    sevenjobss last blog post..Wie bekämpfe ich meine Angst vor Spinnen? How to deal with my arachnophobia?

  7. @Rachel – I love your ideas!

    @sevenjobs – Lovely idea with your kiddos. Very sweet.

  8. The cleaning up sticky messes as soon as they happen seems a near impossible feat for me these days. I must admit I needed the be re-challenged in that area. I do like your suggestion to have slippers of some kind for folks to stick their feet into if you ask for them to take off their shoes. My challenge would be storage for all the shoes right at the door as we have a small entrance way.

    One thing I did for our daughter’s bday party this past Feb. was to assign a laundry basket or some other kind of bigger tub to each family where they threw their shoes, coats, diaper bag, and whatever misc. items they would typically leave at the door all into one basket. Then, I took the basket upstairs away from the party, and it was then easy to retrieve each family’s belongings when they were ready to leave.

    Not exactly on topic, but somehow I got there. :)

    Brianas last blog post..A Little Plug…and a contest!!

  9. I love that people come into my house and feel comfortable enough to take off their shoes and put their feed right up on the coffee table. While my house isn’t shabby, it’s not pristine either and people aren’t afraid to touch stuff. I like to place ottomans where ever I can so that our guests can really put their feet up. I also make sure that there are places to sit plates and cups when they are finished eating so that no one feels the need to immediately get up to put the dishes away.

    I also love the feel of well washed cotton so I cover everything I can in it. :)

    Tiffany Selveys last blog post..And Now For Something Completely Similar (NOFX)

  10. avatar
    CiderSapling says:

    I recently discovered your blog and am really enjoying it. Thanks.

    I have a few other suggestions to go with the other touching toys you suggested. A bin full of flour feels interesting and fun but much easier to clean up than sand. It’s non toxic, so it’s great for younger kids. Great for the outdoors, as well, because it will blow or wash away without clogging up drains, walkways, etc. Used coffee grounds inside a large, shallow container (like a cookie sheet with edges) is great for practicing letters or making pictures – just shake gently to “erase” and start again. Children don’t usually like the taste of coffee grounds so if they get a bit in their mouth by accident, they aren’t encouraged to keep eating it!

  11. avatar
    thursday says:

    I recognize that photo as one of brooklyntweed’s – it’s his Hemlock blanket! Lovely photo by an awesome knitter.

  12. On the issue on Touch ( for kids) crafts.. I have tried and the kids love the following
    - coloured ice ( using food colouring)
    - Embedded sweets( M& M ) in ice
    - whipped cream play
    Edible and easy to clean up, non -toxic.

  13. One thing I try to keep in mind when making a home pleasant visually, is to consider paint colors that complement skin tones. I have always loved off-white walls with crisp white trim. Recently, we’ve rented a house with a darker off-white with a bit an apricot hue. At first, I didn’t like it, and I may have chosen a better quality paint, but there’s something to be said of how it plays off and complements different skins tones. It reminds me of how Asians and Caucasions sometimes prefer either white pearls or pinkish ones.

    Also, green is a hide-all color! I wouldn’t use it on the walls unless it’s for small recessed spaces, like under kitchen cabinets. I’ve lived with an Amazon green carpet which, in retrospect, was one of the best floorings I’ve ever had, and I never thought of myself as a carpet person or one who would incorporate large amounts of green in a room. A fresh green is refreshing.

    For different colored walls, or transitioning spaces, don’t make a drastic leap in hue, unless you have a separate dining room, for instance.

    Also, the light from table lamps create a lovely warm glow, and create a more intimate feeling than stark ceiling lights.

    My family has always used cheap white small horizontal blinds, while some others preferred fancy blinds and then couldn’t afford shades or curtains or to put the blinds in all the windows. Textile coverings create a soft yet crisp feel, filter or block light and drafts, and allow freedom to accent your decor much like throw pillows. They unify the windows from the inside and out. Darker ones do help block light, however, and I believe you can get ones that still look white from the outside. Not to pitch a particular company, but I’ve found J.C. Penney’s has a good basic variety of Roman shades and curtains, and it seems to me, they are almost always on sale. I have made great use of the washable thermal drapes, and used the same ones in three homes now. If needed, double up, or add two smaller panels to equal a larger one. The fuller the better.
    Most of this advice comes from wanting a crisp, cheerful home that meets our needs, (we have kids and cats) and can be achieved on a modest budget. Also, this has mostly been passed down from my mother, who people have accused of having a decorator, when she hasn’t!

  14. Can you explain exactly how you make the fabric softener? Like how much softener to water, Do you keep it in a sealed container then dip the sponge – squeeze out the extra then toss it in the dryer, etc? Thanks!

  15. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I
    thought this post was great. I don’t know who you are but
    certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already ;) Cheers!

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