What makes a building feel inviting? On the surface this might seem like a simple question. But it’s one that’s confounded most people involved with construction or design at one time or another. The simple answer is that there’s often too many factors to say anything definitive. One needs to essentially take people, time and place into consideration. And every one of these variables can change dramatically depending on one’s intent.

But there are some constants which one can use as a baseline for design or construction. The first thing to consider is that there really aren’t many absolutes when it comes to subjective preference. We’d all agree that people tend to dislike it when they find discoloration or stains in their clothing. The same holds true for their furniture or carpeting. If one isn’t careful it’d be easy to simply extrapolate this onto every part of our world.

But now, consider something like tie dye clothing. It’s the same general principle as stained clothing. But it has an undeniable beauty to it. We don’t see that principle extended to stronger material all that often. The main reason is that there’s simply a lot more work involved.

But there are examples of what happens when talented artists and workmen combine their efforts to work with something like concrete. Any Water Based Concrete Stain can bring a similar type of artistic edge to building material. There are obvious differences in end effect between staining concrete and doing the same with clothing. The coloring in particular usually goes in a more subdued direction. Earth tones are the most common artistic intent for any sort of stone-based stain. And most industrial equipment, supplies and contractors are structured around this style.

However, what’s really important in this idea harkens back to the earlier question of inviting atmospheres. What makes a building feel inviting to people? The answer really comes down to making people feel welcome there. The building needs to actually feel lived in. There are some circumstances where it’s better to aim for a more intimidating feeling. Courthouses for example will want to aim for an imposing atmosphere.

But most buildings should create a feeling of crowds and people. Somewhat subtle artistic flair, like a stain, is an easy way to accomplish it. When we see subtle artistic design, it tends to register as much on an unconscious as conscious level. We’ll notice it with our analytical and active point of view for a few seconds. But we do something quite different with it on an unconscious level. Unconsciously we simply feel the intent and creativity of humankind every time our gaze passes over it.

And the same goes for other subtle artistic adornments as well. This is one of the reasons why people often hang small and less visually demanding paintings on walls. The pictures aren’t placed with any desire to arrest one’s gaze. Instead they’re placed to create a less consciously demanding presence. And finally, it’s worth considering how all of these techniques can be used in tandem. Stains on floors and art on the walls can essentially surround guests with the desired atmosphere.