As interior designers, we’re all about creating a home that reflects you — from paint and wallpaper to furniture, artwork, and decor. But part of our jobs is considering the experience of guests and visitors, too — particularly when it comes to presentation, comfort, functionality, and overall ambiance.
If you enjoy hosting and entertaining on the regular, you likely understand this perspective. In addition to comfort and hospitality, we’d argue that it’s human nature to wonder what, exactly, your guests notice about your home, from atmosphere to decoration.
So, we polled our team of interior designers about the common sensory experiences and design details people tend to notice in other peoples’ homes, starting with what we consider to be the number-one most common (and important). From the decorative to the universal, find our candid thoughts below:
1. The scent
Good or bad, the scent is always what hits you in the face when walking into a new home, office space, classroom, store, or restaurant for the first time — likely before you can even notice the interior design. A burning candle or a home-cooked meal on the stove goes a long way when trying to make a positive first-impression on guests hanging at your space for the first time!
2. Organization & cleanliness
To that end, organization and overall cleanliness — particularly a lack thereof — runs a close second. Guests will likely notice a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, clutter in every corner, or dirty laundry scattered across the floor, but will feel subtly relaxed and at ease in a clean, organized space.
3. Statement furniture
On a design level, we’d argue that guests will notice a particularly unique piece of furniture, whether it’s a retro curved sofa or ultra-sculptural accent chairs. These design details stand out as being different from the norm, and therefore worth a second glance (or two).
4. Bold upholstery
Similarly, bold prints and patterns often warrant a comment or two! From leopard print accent chairs to a floral print statement sofa, fabrics outside of the norm tend to catch peoples’ attention (in a good way!).
5. Eye-catching artwork
Art is meant to attract attention and say something about the owner, and it does just that in the home — particularly if it’s oversized, ultra-colorful, or a combination of the two. While large, blank walls feel subtly unfinished or cold, a home brimming with thoughtful artwork leans eye-catching and intriguing.
6. A grand entryway
Curved staircases, tall ceilings, and thoughtful entryway decor are quite literally designed to make a statement, and always live up to that promise. If you’re lucky enough to have a home with these features, play it up with bold, high-contrast paint, statement lighting, and oversized florals!
7. An intentional focal point
Design is pure magic in the sense that you can choose exactly what guests will notice first, thanks to the humble focal point. The statement fireplace in the above living room, for example, immediately grabs your attention and draws the eye in.
8. Unique lighting
Speaking of focal points, unique light fixtures are a great way to capture the attention of visitors in a positive way. From entryway chandeliers to dining room pendants, opting for a unique, oversized, or sculptural piece will likely earn you a few eyes (and compliments).
Like patterned upholstery, wallpaper says a lot about your personal design style, and often attracts attention from guests. From a vintage-inspired floral to a large-scale abstract print, wallpaper makes a visual statement that’s hard to ignore.
Given the time, money, and design prowess that goes into renovating a kitchen, a particularly modern, unique, or charming cookspace will likely garner some attention. Plus, as the natural heart-of-the-home gathering space (not to mention keeper of drinks and food), this is likely where your guests will linger and spend most of their time (pro tip: invest in comfy bar stools!).
11. Books & personal items
From stacked books and family photos to a vintage camera from your grandpa, unique trinkets and personal items not only make for great conversation starters, they say something about who you are. These little design details are often noticed once guests have time to meander around and settle in.
12. Bold paint
Like wallpaper and patterned upholstery, a bold, in-your-face paint color commands attention (including that of your guests). From cozy dining rooms to small entryways that need a little design magic, moody paint makes a beautiful, lasting impression.
13. Architectural details
From stately fireplaces to wooden beams original to the house, unique architectural details are great fodder for conversation and tend to attract attention. Highlight the natural beauty of your home, or add wainscoting for a pop of character!
Want expert advice on your own space, straight from an interior designer? Get started today with our style quiz.