Designing for Delight: A Safe and Sound Perch

Thinking like a chipmunk is essential if you’re trying to create a place where individuals will feel safe and calm. Not used to maintain chipmunk mode? A little practice is all you’ll need.

Chipmunks are social animals who do not use brute strength and armor for protection, much like our human ancestors living on the savannah. If a chipmunk is out and around and something scary happens — a cat seems or a thunderstorm begins — there’s not much he could do but run and hide. So finding a secure place where to survey the nearby world can maintain a chipmunk’s unpleasant surprises to a minimum.

People had a comparable set of alternatives for keeping themselves safe eons before, and early responses to risks remain locked into our minds, where they still shape the sorts of areas where we thrive. Studies have revealed that when humans create spaces where their primitive selves could have felt safe — also called biophilic style — they live much better lives.


Humans feel really comfortable when they are in a place with what is known in the psych biz as prospect and refuge. That means that they are at a spot that’s somewhat darker than the local world, with a lower ceiling, overlooking a place that’s more brightly lit and has a higher ceiling. This means we feel comfortable in areas that remind our chipmunk brains of sitting at a cave overlooking a valley. We particularly like it when our hiding place is a little raised.

This child’s canopy bed is the form of refuge where any individual would feel safe — really safe. It is a great alternative for a child’s room because most kids are bemused by the world and require a retreat where matters could be sorted out.

Tracy Murdock Allied ASID

The safety they provide, along with canopy beds, are not only for children. The design of this adult bed would help any of us decompress after a tension-packed day.

David Ludwig – Architect

Window seats built in spaces with lowered ceilings are a great place where to survey the entire world inside and out. Another way to get prospect and refuge into our own lives.

Handcrafted Homes, Inc

It’s possible to change ceiling heights throughout a room to create areas that feel comfy and secure. When it’s not possible to build a lower part of ceiling, try draping cloth from the ceiling to create a canopy above a couple of seats.

Fivecat Studio | Architecture

One reason that front porches have such allure is that they provide a protected place (remember, think chipmunk) for surveying the entire world.

Shoberg Custom Homes

Humans relax when they are easily able to see what is happening around them and when their backs are protected. Think about a restaurant where individuals can seat themselves. Which areas are taken ? They’re the chairs in the high-backed booths where people can see the door. Chipmunk thinking prevails!

Paul Anater

People prefer to not sit in the center of areas, particularly when individuals are walking . But pushing all the furniture from the walls of a room doesn’t do the job for many reasons.

High-back furniture can save the day. Sitting in it makes people feel relaxed. Just take this public area for instance. Even when pedestrians walk behind, anyone on the couch will still feel sheltered and comfortable.


When you can not use a sofa/chair with a high back, set a substantial object behind it to”protect” the people sitting there. A large, sturdy table does the trick.

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