Cristal's Blog

Getting Back to Basics: At Home With Your 5 Senses

March 12, 2021

Back to Articles


Senses icons. Five human illustrative senses vector illustration, taste and smell or nose sights, touch or sensory and sight or eye icons, hear or listen modern line pictograms

Something positive has emerged from our past year of spending much more time in our homes, both willingly and unwillingly. It's a desire for, and the manifestation of getting back to basics, and the physical and emotional comfort available through our 5 senses. Many movements espousing the importance of “getting back to basics” have become hugely popular.  Hygge is one. There’s also something called Nordic-Inspired Decor (With A Hygge Twist); Lagom, the Swedish trend loosely translated as “not too much and not too little, just right,” and cottagecore, the current interest in creating a comfortable aesthetic. All of the above seem to be gaining momentum with a diverse population here in the U.S.

READ: Hygge and Friluftsliving: Danish Lifestyle Trends Embraced By Santa Barbara Homeowners

What all these cozy design trends emphasizing getting back to basics have in common is the belief that our emotions and senses are very tightly intertwined. What we hear, see, taste, smell, and touch can provide us with information on how to feel. Put simply, our emotional reactions can be guided by sensory information.

What is at the heart of these trends?

All these design and lifestyle trends focus on tranquility, domestic living, and creativity. It’s all about creating a relaxing space with intention: designing homes in a way that reminds every family member to slow down and savor each moment. And it’s an idea residents of Santa Barbara have always embraced.

How to Add the Cozy Aesthetic To Your Santa Barbara Home

The goal is to illuminate all five senses inside your Santa Barbara home. Here’s how:

  • Touch
    Touch is thought to be the first sense that humans develop, consisting of several distinct sensations communicated to the brain through specialized neurons in the skin. There are volumes of data showing the sense of touch helps reduce depression, lower the stress hormone cortisol and increase the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Everything has to be soft and enveloping, like a cuddle-worthy blanket.

    READ: Want a Master Suite Sanctuary?

    Touch can also influence how humans make decisions. Studies by psychologists at Harvard University and Yale show that texture can be associated with abstract concepts and touching something with a texture can influence the decisions a person makes. So, go ahead and feel the softness of a warm blanket, the warmth of a cup of tea as it rolls down your throat, the delicate crush of the rain as it falls on your face.

  • Sight
    The data on the sun and natural light holding powerful holistic benefits for health is vast. Light is responsible for turning on the brain through the retina and the pineal gland. Homeowners can enjoy all the benefits of light just by opening the drapes and getting out in the sun. And here in sunny Santa Barbara, you can do that just about any day of the year. Using color and uplifting images can also shift your chemistry. It’s important to re-teach yourself to truly see, not just look at things. Think inspired wallpaper, natural textiles, unfinished woods, plants, wood beams, natural pottery, ambient lighting, fairy lights, comfy chairs, and pillows.

    When it comes to sight, consider the Santa Barbara indoor/outdoor lifestyle of bringing nature indoors while also creating comforts outdoors. Fresh flowers and house plants are ideal. Roses, daylilies, petunias, dianthus, geraniums, or any fresh flower will do the trick. If you have a fireplace, that’s another easy step toward a cozier home. Simply light a fire to illuminate the room and add warmth in more ways than one. You don’t have to toss out your TV to create this getting back to basics vibe, though simply powering down all screens and losing yourself in the pages of a good book—or in conversation with a loved one—can get you in a cozy mindset.
  • Hear
    Studies show that meaningful sounds produce theta waves, the deep relaxing brain waves one attains when meditating. Things like music, audiobooks, soundscapes, and nature can make a big difference in your mood. Focus on the deep tones of the voices from those you love inside your Santa Barbara home; the sweet song of the birds in the trees; the sparkling rhythm of the ocean. And if silence is the sound that soothes you, dive on in and enjoy the solitude.

  • Smell
    This is the most nostalgic of all our senses because fragrance takes a direct route to the limbic brain, where emotional memories are processed. A smell can transport you to a happy moment from your past or remind you of an important person in your life. Homeowners are called to open the windows and enjoy the fresh air. Other things you can use are aromatherapy scents like lavender, lemon, and peppermint, all proven to improve a person’s mood. Speaking about getting back to basics, learning how to breathe deeply, from your diaphragm, will also help shift your neurochemistry.

    Humans may be able to smell over 1 trillion scents thanks to the olfactory cleft, which is found on the roof of the nasal cavity, next to the "smelling" part of the brain. Humans have 400 smelling receptors. With all those receptors, what makes a home feel cozier than a delicious smell? Certain scents can create calm and peace, diffusing the stresses of the day. Think of your favorite candle, fresh cookies baking on your stove or fresh sprigs of rosemary in vases adding fresh fragrances around your home.

  • Taste
    Research has shown that food can change one’s mood in an instant. That’s not so surprising when you consider that adults have 2,000 to 4,000 taste buds on the tongue, lining the back of the throat, the epiglottis, the nasal cavity and the esophagus.

    You may not be aware that your sense of taste can call forth positive feelings. Studies show that even small moments of flavor sensations can lift your mood. So, nurse a delicious cup of coffee or eat a fresh strawberry slowly, letting your tastebuds ignite with every nibble. Whatever foods or beverages you enjoy, take delight and savor the experience.

The bottom line when it comes to getting back to basics and creating cozy at home: Don’t overthink it. The more natural, the better.

Life can feel incredibly complicated for most of us right now and adding cozy vibes to your home can help soothe stress, inspire your creativity, and recall a simpler time and space, allowing you and your entire family to feel calmer and at peace. If you’re considering buying a new home in any of Santa Barbara’s amazing communities where you can invent your own comfortable space, I’m here to help. Just give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at Cristal@Montecito-Estate. I’ll be happy to offer my expertise and help you embrace the cozy design trends that are here to stay.

Back to Articles

Client Reviews

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch