I’m in my favorite coffee shop this morning. The walls are white, big windows fill it with light, and there’s plenty of spaces between the tables. The air smells of espresso and the music is quiet enough to ignore when I’m writing. Every time I walk through the door, I exhale with relief.
In another coffee shop across town where some of my friends like to meet, the walls are dark, conversations echo, and the counters stay cluttered. I find myself tensing up as soon as I get in line with the chatty crowd waiting for lattes.
Why the two different responses? Because of the way our brains and nervous systems are wired, extroverts need more external stimulation in their environments to feel their best. For some people in my life, a crowded, chaotic coffee shop is stimulating. But as introverts we crave simplicity and quiet so we can turn inward, recharge, and rest. Too much going on in our outer world is overwhelming, not fun or exciting.
Marie Kondo, bestselling author and TV personality, wants everything you own to “spark joy.” Over a hundred years ago, William Morris said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Martha Stewart shares forty ways to simplify your home.
Advice about our external environment abounds. But for introverts the spaces we’re in, interior design choices, and clutter level affects our energy is the real story. Myquillin Smith, also known as the Nester, says in her book Cozy Minimalist Home, “If an empty room is visually quiet, a full room is visually loud.”
We can’t control coffee shops, but we can be intentional about how our home and work spaces feel to us as introverts. Our home or work space might shout at us when we need a whisper. (Clutter, in particular, is noisy. If you find yourself unable to feel calm in your home or work space, then a first step is clearing out whatever isn’t necessary. Keep taking things away until it feels quiet to you.)
If you share home or work space with an extrovert rather than a fellow introvert, you can find middle ground that feels right to both of you—not too quiet or too loud.
And if changing your home or work space isn’t an option, then you can choose one introvert spot that’s yours. Your bed, the bathtub, a prayer closet, a rocking chair in the living room, or a porch swing. Beyond home or work, seek quieter places like parks, libraries, or my favorite coffee shop.
Start asking yourself, “How does this space affect my energy level as an introvert?” Sometimes we can’t control our environments, but it’s still helpful to recognize why we’re uncomfortable. And when we do have control, even small changes can make a big difference.
What surrounds you externally affects you internally as an introvert. Here are six simple ways to make your home or work space more introvert-friendly…
6 Simple Ways to Make Your Home or Work Space Introvert-Friendly
Pick quiet colors. Notice how different hues cause you to feel. Calmer shades and subtle patterns make a room more restful.
Choose clean lines and open space. Simplicity means less energy-draining external stimulation. Think quality over quantity.
Be intentional about window treatments and lighting. Consider the amount of privacy you want and how much light makes you feel best.
Create space for what you love. Make room for what brings you joy, like reading, puzzles, or a favorite collection of items.
Choose smaller seating. Go for coziness over crowds—a love seat instead of huge sectional, a library instead of formal dining room.
Incorporate texture. Add soothing details to your spaces, such as throw blankets, comfortable pillows, and soft upholstery.
Cheering You On,
Want more insights into who you are as an introvert and strategies to help you thrive? You’ll find them in my bestselling book, The Powerful Purpose of Introverts: Why the World Needs You to Be You.