I’ve just started reading Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe – all about how you can harness your inner strength and find a sense of balance in a world geared towards extroversion – and it got me thinking about whether there was such a thing as an introverted interior.
I definitely think so – I’m an introvert, therefore it makes sense that my home is introverted too. My home helps me retreat into myself and find moments of solitude away from it all. It allows me to recharge my batteries and go back out into the world with renewed energy. The pared-back neutral surroundings quietens the fog of conversation and daily clatter in my head. There’s room to breathe, space to dream and a calm place to restore my creativity and develop new ideas.
The word introvert originally comes from the Latin introvertere – intro means ‘to the inside’, while vertere means ‘to turn’. It was used in the 17th century to describe turning your thoughts inwards in spiritual contemplation. Today an introvert is described as someone who is predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than external things. It’s a common misconception that introverts are shy and selfish. They’re not, they simply gain energy through reflection and expand it through interaction. I’m a classic introvert – I’m comfortable in my own company and like spending time alone, I prefer one-on-one conversations rather than group set-ups, and need quiet time after a social event or busy day to restore my depleted energy.
Helgoe describes introverts like this; ‘What constitutes an introvert is quite simple. We are a vastly diverse group of people who prefer to look at life from the inside out. We gain energy and power from inner reflection, and get more excited by ideas than external activities. When we converse, we listen well and expect others to do the same. We think first and talk later. Writing appeals to us because we can express ourselves without intrusion, and we often prefer communicating this way.’
If an introvert feels most at home in their own inner world, then their home is likely to be their sanctuary. I’m sure that can also be the case for extroverts, but introverts tend to have a preference for something quieter and less stimulating than anything they can find outside.
An introverted interior allows an introvert to be completely 100% themselves, unlike anywhere else. It’s not just about shutting the rest of the world out, a home is a tool for the introvert to make sense of the world without distractions. As Helgoe says; ‘your inner world is the place where the action is, where your heart starts pumping, and your potential expands’.
Indeed, you could say the same about a home – when curated for us, and all our hopes, needs and aspirations, a home helps us flourish and grow. I wonder if it’s any coincidence that I started to feel more content in life and business, nearer to my true self, when I started working from home – I wasn’t suited to an office environment and constantly felt frustrated that my surroundings were holding me back from my strengths. For me, my creativity and overall sense of wellbeing is bound up so completely and wholeheartedly with my home that without it, or even sometimes when away from it, I start to feel a little lost; adrift from both myself and my world.
Is your home geared towards a life as an introvert? Does your home help create that private space for retreat? Do you decorate in a way that means you reflect and think carefully about certain ideas? Do you seek the simple and minimal amongst the clutter and chaos? If you too find strength from within, here are six signs you’re an introvert interior decorator like me.
1. You identify with themes of minimalism and simple living
If an introvert needs a space without unnecessary stimulation, then their home is likely to be free of any clutter or interruptions that could break the quiet. In many ways, embracing minimalism is a way to exert control over your space – a minimal home is ordered with everything in its place. The same could also be said of an introvert’s mind; they go inside themselves so as to order their world. Living in a simple and considered way is all about being more mindful in your surroundings; letting go of what you don’t need, to make room for what you do. Adopting a less but better approach helps the introvert free up some breathing space in their home.
2. You think through interior ideas carefully before going for it
An introvert would prefer to cogitate on an idea and weigh up all the options before acting on it. That means an introvert is unlikely to make rash, impulsive interior design decisions; everything will be carefully considered and figured out in advance because an introvert relishes that thinking time. That makes for a slower design process; an introvert likes to plan and have meaning behind everything they do. Some things could even take years for an introvert to commit to, so it can be on their own terms and in their own time.
3. You love nothing more than getting cosy
As an introvert may spend a lot of time at home, they’ll likely want to make their space homely and inviting. That means prioritising soft, natural textures and layering up the throws and blankets in your favourite corner. An introvert will likely enjoy surrounding themselves with good books and magazines, and plenty of candles to create a warm, hygge ambience. It’s important for an introvert to create that quiet refuge so they can escape when they need to.
4. You’re drawn to neutral tones and the cooler end of the colour spectrum
Introverts seek a sense of quietude and calm in their life, so their interiors are likely to be quiet in style too. The outside world can be overwhelming to an introvert so their home needs to be more stripped back in comparison. That means using pale, neutral colours that help create a balanced, tranquil setting. If they do embrace colour, it will likely be on the cooler end of the spectrum. In terms of colour psychology, blues and greens are much more soothing colours compared to the warmer end of the colour spectrum, such as reds and oranges, that can make us feel alert. An introvert also doesn’t need to fill every wall with something, they need negative, uninterrupted space for their eyes to rest on. Likewise, an introvert is more likely to be cautious when using bright, clashing patterns that might add excess visual noise to a space.
5. You need social spaces but you also need some private areas you can retreat to alone
A vast, busy, open plan space is unlikely to work for an introvert; they need to create moments of intimacy, both for themselves and for one-on-one time with close friends and family. Introverts aren’t social butterflies, they don’t deal well in big groups, so instead of a huge table for entertaining or space for parties, you’ll likely find smaller nooks for alone time and more snug settings for close conversations. Similarly, an introvert is likely to prioritise an office or study area over space for guests, as they can be more cautious about letting people into that inner private world.
6. You need a space of escapism, ideally connected to nature
An introvert is naturally drawn to places where there are fewer people. In their home that might translate as a need for an uninterrupted view outside, a terrace where they can’t be overlooked or a secluded garden without the sounds of neighbours. This is of course much easier to create in the countryside, but for urban city dwellers, good window treatments and lots of plants can help shut off the outside world and let in a bit of soothing, restorative nature.
7. . To an introvert, an introverted interior is never boring
Some may look at an introverted interior and think there’s nothing going on. It may seem subtle, but not so much to an introvert. An introvert has a great eye for detail. They will notice all the little details that might pass others by – they’ll likely spend inordinate amounts of time arranging and carefully curating their home. Their shelves will be perfectly coordinated and their cupboards organised. True homebodies, an introvert likes making time for all those things. They like having all their favourite things around them and feel little lost without them. They might even not be able to relax until everything is in its place; they might need one space in the home which is always tidy and free from clutter. For me, the rest of the house can be a tip, but as long as the living room is serene for the evening, I’m happy!
What do you think, are you an introvert? Do you think your home is an introverted interior too? What ways do you make your home work for your introverted soul?