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One of my favourite activities is waking up on a Saturday morning, hitting the latte button on my Nespresso machine, and curling up with a cashmere blanket and a good book or engaging in a deep conversation with a loved one. To me, this ritual signifies connection, comfort, relaxation and enjoyment.

These feelings aren’t created by the physical structure of my house. ‘Comfort’ involves smelling the coffee brewing, being wrapped in the warm blanket, sitting in a cozy chair and enjoying the colours and contrasts of the décor, both inside and outside. It’s these intangible qualities that create the 4th dimension of home – our senses.

When the Schulman Design team designs spaces for the aging population, we make sure not to lose that feeling of home, regardless of the person’s physical or cognitive abilities. Experiencing all the senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell – is what makes home. Looking through windows to the outdoors gives our bodies cues about daylight or darkness. The sounds of people’s voices give us a sense of belonging. The taste of familiar foods or the smell of them cooking evokes memories of family gatherings, traditions and special occasions.

Our most important relationships also occur within the home. Our parents, children, spouses, partners or friends are typically the only people who we share with or invite into our homes. We also keep significant objects in our homes. These objects may not look impressive or have great monetary value, but the memories tied to them or the activities they support make them significant.

Home is a place that should bring us joy and allow us to experience the things and activities we love. That feeling of safety, autonomy and coziness shouldn’t be compromised because our physical and cognitive abilities are changing as we age.

At the start of any new project with a client, we always seek to understand their lifestyle at home. We ask them what home means to them and what activities they enjoy most. Through this process we can design a space that more than meets their basic needs and exceeds their expectations, while capturing the essence of their character.

What does home mean to you?