How to Create Quiet Spaces in Your Home

Contrary to popular belief, not all introverts are homebodies. I myself love getting out on the streets and observing all the personalities colliding around me—and I’m the kind of person who gets nervous about interactions to the point where a little small talk with a cab driver puts me in cold sweats. However, a quiet, introverted mind does crave a safe, calming space built just for thinking and rejuvenation, especially after enduring a barrage of stimuli from the external world.

Creating that area within the home requires designing (and living) with intention. We tend to treat our homes as dumping grounds—not only for our possessions but also for our overly-tired bodies. I know that upon arrival home at the end of a long day, if my home feels uncomfortable, cluttered, or noisy, I tend to feel adrift. As an introvert, if my place of retreat is threatened, I can be easily thrown for a loop, and the quality of my writing and a clear headspace will be the first two casualties. To truly reap the benefits of a quiet space, you’ll need to learn the habit of treating your home with reverence and love, becoming more thoughtful about where you place items and how you spend your time inside.

Locate quiet within your space

Turn off your TV, your music, and your phone, and listen. Hear that humming from your refrigerator? The whoosh of the air conditioning running? The ticking of the clock? A lot of appliances and devices let off excess noise we don’t notice during our day-to-day routines. I’m a person who suffers from mid-level anxiety, meaning my brain is always anxiously ticking off a number of thoughts, and that excess ambient noise just adds to the neural confusion.

To combat this, I’ve tried incorporating more quiet spaces into my home. I turn off unnecessary devices—like DVD players, video consoles, TVs, and digital clocks—that add ambient noise, light, and heat pollution. Smoothly-running, new appliances help. If your dishwasher is old and noisy, get it repaired so that it will run quietly in the background. Alternatively, replace clanky appliances with new, quieter-running models, which may be more energy-efficient as well. Performing some acoustic investigation here is key, so make sure to unplug and listen carefully to the different spaces in your interiors.

If you have especially loud housemates or neighbors or a lot of street noise from outside, you may also want to consider soundproofing your interiors. This can be as simple as weatherstripping around doors and acquiring a carpet to soak up noise or as advanced as adding acoustic ceiling tiles. Homes are generally built with little to no soundproofing. In fact, interior wall construction unintentionally amplifies noise from room to room, so it’s worth investigating ways to block outside noise, whatever your time or budget.

Quiet means creating space

There’s a reason we call a busy design “noisy.” In the world of home decor, “quiet” and “minimal” can often go hand and hand. While there’s been many an article written on the valors of decluttering, you don’t necessarily need to go along with serious devotees who take the practice to extremes. For an introvert, particularly one drawn to quiet reflection, a too-stark room can be a prison sentence. Overly-empty spaces provoke a strong reaction in me, triggering feelings of abandonment and isolation. I live toeing the line between solitude and loneliness, so having furniture and decor that remind me I’m comfortable and cared for is key.

In fact, severe rooms, particularly those with many hard angles, have been shown to be associated with negative emotions, activating the amygdala (your flight/fight/freeze response center). We’re far more likely to thrive in a soft space with plenty of rounded surfaces. Striking a balance between organization and the chaos life can bring is the battle, but clean surfaces and uncrowded spaces are major strategical wins. Clutter, after all, can elevate our cortisol levels—the stress hormone—making a quiet mind harder than usual to achieve.

Introverts will be most comfortable in spaces where furniture is clustered in nooks rather than organized around the perimeter—as it would be for a large social gathering. That being said, tasks that involve heavy concentration, such as reading, writing, and design, will be better performed in a single room—that way you can shut off outside distractions at your discretion.

Ideal spaces for introverts

Given plenty of quiet time for reflection, introverts are generally well aware of their own preferences. That knowledge of self serves them well in designing their ideal places of rest in the home, especially because beyond a few standard principles, decor is often about the subjective connection we have with colors, objects, and items. Color, for instance, is so personal that even psychologists can’t agree on how it affects us. Brain scans offer mixed data on how we react to the color red, for instance.

Light is also controversial. I’m among those who feel trapped and weighed down without windows, but others may feel exposed in a home with too many openings. However, for my type of introversion, I find that an area that at least suggests a sense of seclusion is key. Seclusion can be fostered by setting up “thinking outposts” in quiet corners by windows or alcoves and making them your own. Fill them with tiny touches that speak to you alone and provoke thought. I used to keep a drawer filled with old black-and-white photos I’d bought from a thrift store so I could imagine the inner lives of the people in them. Find items that connect you to your deepest self.

Too often, homeowners feel they must design their homes to appeal to convention, but this is untrue. The designer that bucks tradition, choosing instead to listen to their own instincts when organizing a space, will find that even the process of redecorating can be a journey toward a deeper sense of self.

Share your thoughts.

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  • Tanya Podvrsan

    What a beautiful article! Thanks for the inspiration, I may just get to it.

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  • “I live toeing the line between solitude and loneliness…” I always think it is just me. It is a very difficult dance with strong repercussions.

  • Evan

    This was SO helpful. I currently live in a really ideal introvert home I think. I’ve been thinking about building a new home, but something that has irked me in the location and design possibilities of the lot is that there will be large windows (facing a beautiful view)… that also face a semi-busy street. It could end up feeling very exposed and a bit like living in a fish bowl. This article made me have the ah-ha moment that perhaps that is not a very ideal spot for me to live! I need to be able to hole-up at home to recharge and it might feel less-than-tranquil to live in a home like that.

  • Mary Fung

    Thank you

  • Marlana Sherman

    How can I apply this to an apartment setting especially when I share a room?

  • Tracy, from Bliss This Home

    Great article, and I think many suggestions can apply to introverts and extroverts alike. I especially applaud the references to research; my approach to positive interior design is based on psychological research and customization of personal spaces to foster one’s Best Self. As you wrote: “decor is often about the subjective connection we have with colors, objects, and items.” I encourage everyone to be mindful and deliberate in the one environment we can control and where we can reap benefits toward increased well-being and happiness.

  • ponyexpressway

    Great article. Helped me sort out my feelings so much. . What would you suggest a person to do if they live with someone that wants to use his shooting range once in a while. My room is my quiet zone I set up that makes me feel I can recharge and relax. It feels like my personal space is being taken away and it feels violating. I can’t put stuff in my window either to block the noise because of how it affects me mentally. My only option is to leave a fan running which causes anciety like you said or for me to leave the room. It’s very stressful for me to leave because it’s my quiet haven.
    What can I do? Any suggestions. I can go into another persons room but it doesn’t feel good because it’s not my space.

    • Vic Kent Marshall

      hi ponyexpressway. I have a noisy partner as well. I have found that keeping lots of noise reducing earplugs (inexpensive at the walgreens) in several places in the house works wonders for my sanity! Also, listening to relaxing music with headphones or ear buds helps a great deal. Takes you into another world of your own. Even if someone is right next to you. It takes some time to acquire the habit and the supplies (earplugs & headphones) but once you do, you’ll benefit. I wear mine at noisy public places, grocery stores, shopping, etc. Cheers.

      • ponyexpressway

        Thank you 🙂

  • Laurie

    EnJoyed reading your article, Erin Vaughan. Even checked the link in your Info. Completely agree with your premise and beautiful ideas and can relate to many of your introverted ways. Thanks for talking about writing and longing for a ‘space’ to relax and reflect.

  • Ray Doraymefa

    Methinks there would be a market for home design that parallels the “Quiet Spaces” designs for office architecture.