Theme ‘living rooms’

‘Living rooms’ are a theme both in the chapter ‘Architectural spaces’ and ‘Interior design’. (See the recommendations.) There they are exclusively about the dimensions and the interior design of living rooms. A number of other recommendations such as those concerning windows, sightlines, illumination and color apply not only to living rooms but to a number of other spaces as well.

Obviously the living room – along with the kitchen – is one of the most important spaces in the home of people on the spectrum, whether they live alone, with relatives, partners or friends. One should be able to feel at ease in it, both alone and in the company of others. Just as is the case for the parallel themes ‘the classroom’ and ‘living spaces’ the physical, social and sensory aspects are all three relevant here.

Physical and social aspects
Living rooms should preferably be spacious because people on the spectrum need extra personal space. Because of motor awkwardness sufficient walking space is needed along with soft materials and the avoidance of sharp and other objects which might cause injury.

Apart from spaciousness and safety, the living room should have pleasant dimensions. Here one may emphasize the aesthetic aspects such as propagated by Humphreys who, among other means, likes to apply the golden ratio.
One may approach this issue in a different way. McAllister & Maguire refer to the visual properties of spaces as their ‘volumetric expression’. Those may be the height of the ceilings, the positioning of doors and windows and the dimensions of a room – properties which make a space either intimate and comfortable or alien and inhospitable.
Although these researchers had school classrooms in mind, it may be evident that each architectural space is characterized by a specific ‘volumetric expression’ which can be more of less beneficial to people on the spectrum.

Being able to exercise and maintain oversight is very important and for this to be achieved effectively the position of the walls and windows can be decisive. These things are of course decided when a house is being built. Some other properties of living rooms are constituted through interior design, such as the positioning of cupboards, furniture and other fixed objects. Yet other aspects of living rooms, among which creating adequate spaces to withdraw – partially (see lee-spaces) or more rigorously (see time-out spaces) – need attention in both the construction and the furnishing phase of a home. These concern the social aspects for which the general rule is maximizing control over social interaction, including touching others.

Sensory aspects
The sensory aspects can not be separated rigorously form the other ones. The proposed ‘spaciousness’ above is also necessary in order to reduce the ‘stimuli density’. The lower this is – the lesser the number of stimuli per cubic foot – the better the stimuli processing works through all the senses.

On this website many recommendations are done in view of sensory troubles, which also pertain to living rooms. Many can be found under the themes sound, smell, color, touch and pain.


 the golden ratioMcAllister & Maguire
McAllister, Keith and Barry Maguire, ‘Design considerations for the autism spectrum disorder-friendly Key Stage 1 classroom’, In: Support for Learning 27(2012)3, 103-112.