Current Issues, How To, Lighting, Lotti, Make over

Snoezelen Room

Sensory rooms, also known as “Snoezelen” (a compound of the Dutch words ‘snuffelen’, to snuggle, and ‘doezelen’, to doze) or, more scientifically, a “controlled multisensory environment” is a kind of whole-room therapy for children and adults with developmental disabilities, autism, dementia or other brain injuries. Developed in the 1970s in the Netherlands specifically to treat disabilities and injuries, sensory rooms are now a popular feature of nurseries, schools and residential care homes across the world. Sensory rooms can be beneficial for anyone, from the smallest babies to OAPs, from students to CEOs.

Unlike other forms of therapy, Snoezelen is designed not to have a measurable outcome or goal but to encourage the client to gain as much enjoyment as they can from the activity. Users of sensory rooms often report feeling more relaxed or “sleepy” and suffering less from the effects of depression and anxiety. This kind of therapy can also improve pro-social behaviour and encourage users to relate better to each other. Some research has even shown that sensory room therapy can decrease your heart rate!

It’s clear, then, that Snoezelen therapy is a great way to support both children and adults with developmental disabilities or brain injuries as well as toddlers, babies and those who are suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. However, setting up a sensory room – especially in your own home – can be a difficult and time consuming project, especially when searching for specialist equipment.

But have no fear! We’ve put together a list of affordable resources that are quick and easy to buy to set up your very own sensory room. These items are by no means an exhaustive list but are a great place to start when looking for a way to support someone’s sensory needs.

Bubble Features

One of the most popular features of a sensory room is a bubble tube or wall. In fact, they’ve inspired this whole list! Bubble walls combine colour and the gentle (yet hypnotic) movement of bubbles to create a mesmerising effect which really grabs the attention of both children and adults alike. With integrated LED lights and a remote control, it’s possible to choose from a range of colours as well as strobe and fade effects. In Snoezelen therapy, the client is given control over the remote so they can decide what colour the wall is and which light effects are turned on at any time. Bubble walls are a great way to relax as the user watches the gentle flow of bubbles which shine in the light. You can also adjust the bubble speed, allowing for quick, small bubbles or larger, slower ones.

bubble wall

Bubble tubes are another great water feature for your sensory room. Bubble tubes are particularly engaging as they are wide enough to be able to put plastic fish inside, where you can watch them gently “swim” up and down the length of the tube as they get carried along by the bubbles. This sort of engagement is great for people who can have difficulty concentrating, and the changing colour of the feature keeps it feeling novel.


A sensory room can be easily enhanced with the use of mirrors. Placing a bubble tube in the corner of a room with two full-wall mirrors on either wall reflects the movement of the bubbles and creates the impression that there are more features than there really are. Large acrylic mirrors are usually the most suitable for sensory rooms as they are stronger than glass while being significantly lighter, making them easy to move around and safer for rooms with children. Acrylic mirrors are also available in a variety of colours, making them perfect for sensory exploration as they transform the room and the things they reflect. Small babies and toddlers can particularly benefit from playing with mirrors as they learn to recognise facial features and expressions. A sturdy acrylic mirror placed on the floor is also a great way to play and explore, from looking at yourself from different angles to drawing or painting on the surface and watching the reflection beneath. You can even cover a mirror in something fine like sand, chickpeas or flour and let users trace pictures using their fingers, marvelling as the mirror is revealed beneath.


It’s important to make sure there’s lots of space to relax in a sensory room. There’s no limits in a sensory room so users can sit, recline or even lie on the floor if that’s what they want to do! Placing a few beanbag slabs on the floor of a room provides a soft, malleable surface for users to sit and lie on, as well as being interesting to touch, scrunch and cuddle. Beanbag slabs have wipe-clean polyester covers which can also be removed for more thorough machine washing.


Lots of sensory rooms feature swings and hammocks to provide their users with a relaxing, weightless feeling. Hanging swing seats and cacoon hammocks are a great way to help users chill out as they gently swing back and forth. Cacoon hammocks are particularly effective as they provide a dark, enclosed space which can help people feel more safe and at ease. They also have fewer exposed ropes, making them great for children. Cacoon hammocks need to be attached to a sturdy ceiling beam or hung from a tripod stand. For extra safety, you can put a few cushions, bean bags or soft shapes beneath the hammock or cacoon just in case. For an extra sensory experience, you can fill the cacoon with soft cushions or even a furry rug and decorate it with lights.

cacoon chair


Typically, sensory rooms have very low lighting, often using fibre optic string or cable lights. Low lighting creates a more relaxed environment which can benefit children who struggle to keep calm. String lighting, especially coloured lights, can enhance the relaxed atmosphere as well as bringing more colour to a room. Being able to touch and manipulate light is important during Snoezelen therapy, so make sure that users can hold the lights themselves (with proper supervision). Battery operated lights are great for this, as they can be picked up, manipulated and even worn! Solar powered lights have fewer running costs and can be charged outside (or on a windowsill) when not in use, so are better for the environment. For sensory rooms designed for children, solar lights can also teach them about science and sustainability.

sensory lights

Spinners and Hanging Decorations

Another way to add sparkling colour and movement to a sensory room is through the use of hanging spinners. Hung around a room at different heights, these spinners twist and dance as they spin, creating stunning visual effects which are almost hypnotic to watch. Spinners should be hung low enough that users of the sensory room can touch and spin them themselves, and small children can be helped to reach them so they can watch the direct effect of their actions on the world around them. Lots of spinners come with integrated crystals, which when hung in a window or near a light source can beautifully refract the light in rainbows around the room.

Refracted light

Making a sensory room doesn’t have to be a huge project – in fact, it can often be beneficial to have just a few items which are brought out and set up as a treat. Larger features like bubble walls are a great way to start and can also be just as effective when set up in a bedroom or living room where everyone can enjoy it. So let’s turn down the lights, put away our phones, turn off the TV and instead turn to the bubble wall for an evening of rest and relaxation!

Jenny at PrimroseLotti works with the Primrose Product Loading team, creating product descriptions and newsletter headers.

When not writing, Lotti enjoys watching (and over-analyzing) indie movies with a pint from the local craft brewery or cosplaying at London Comic Con.

Lotti is learning to roller skate, with limited success.

See all of Lotti’s posts.

Current Issues, Gardening, Lotti, Wildlife

wild space in garden

The State of Nature Report

In 2013 over 50 British wildlife organisations worked together to release the State of Nature report, the first report of its kind which set out to undertake a “health check” of nature in the UK. The results were, to say the least, troubling. All around the UK, all kinds of wildlife was suffering – there were declines in populations of insects and butterflies, in birds and mammals and even in plants.

The UK is not left wanting when it comes to green space as over half of the total urban area in England is made of green space: parks, gardens and allotments as well as grassy verges take up a significant amount of room. The demand for houses with gardens is still very high but the shrinking amount of land available means these gardens are getting smaller and smaller. The urbanisation of formally wild spaces can even increase the impact of invasive species on local wildlife populations as they usually arrive via human transport routes.

In non-urbanised patches or arible or farm land, the trend continues. The report showed that since the 1970s there has been a rapid decline in farmland bird populations which showed no indication of improving any time soon. There were similar results when looking at farmland moths and beetles, with 64% of moths and 70% of beetles in decline.

A further report taken in 2016 held similarly worrying results, showing that 56% of species in the UK were in decline and 165 species were considered critically endangered – that’s one in ten species across the UK. One in six animal, bird, plant, insect and fish species had been lost altogether. While between 2013 and 2016 more steps were being taken to combat these problems, researchers could find no statistically significant improvements between the two reports that showed long-term change for the good.

The reports picked up on two trends which could be most closely linked with the continued drop in numbers of local birds, animals and insects. These were the lack of wild, uncultivated spaces and the use of pesticides, particularly agricultural ones.

Britain is, thankfully, a nation of nature-lovers. We’re birders and badger-watchers: where else would Springwatch reach as many people? The two State of Nature reports demonstrated this, as hundreds of volunteers popped up all over the country (and in Britain’s overseas territories) to count, track and observe the plants, animals and insects that the reports were focusing on. England loves its wild spaces – loves its moors and mountains, loves its beaches and brooks.

But do we love our gardens more?

The English Garden

It’s no coincidence that the word “paradise” stems from the ancient Hebrew word “pardes”, meaning “park” or “garden”. If a man’s home is his castle, then his garden is his estate. The garden is an important motif in popular culture; from the romantic gardens in which the heroine and hero walk in regency novels to the biblical Garden of Eden. The garden is the backdrop to scandalous love affairs, secret meetings and grand denouements.

English garden

The lawn – that big patch of green space you’ll probably find at the back (and front, if you’re lucky) of your house – has been a staple of Western homes for hundreds of years. The garden how we imagine it today has a carefully curated image which has evolved over time to become what we know today – a couple of flower beds, a vegetable patch hidden near the back, maybe a some patio furniture and, most importantly, a lot of grass. The lawn is as far from a “wild space” as it’s possible to get. Considering its popularity, then, what kind of impact is the British garden having on local wildlife?

Homeowners’ love of open spaces, trimmed lawns and pesticides is making it harder and harder for our favourite species to continue to survive. Bugs which would breed in long grass have nowhere to go, making it harder for garden birds to find reliable sources of food. Butterflies and bumblebees, which are integral for pollination, have fewer wildflowers to feast on and often find pesticides in maintained flower beds. Wild mammals such as hedgehogs, badgers and rabbits have nowhere to hide, breed and hibernate and the changing climate often means that those animals who do hibernate are waking up far too early.

What Can I Do To Help?

By making room for a wild space in your garden, you can start to support British wildlife in a real, active way. You don’t need to transform your whole garden into a meadow, but something is always better than nothing. Take a few square meters of space at the back of your lawn, overturn an unused vegetable patch or repurpose some beds and borders and allow the space to return to nature. By letting grass grow out and planting wildflowers (which often take a full season to come in), you can encourage more insects to land and breed, in turn feeding your garden birds. Long grass and flowers give small mammals more places to hide and you can combine your wild space with a compost heap or log pile to provide hedgehogs with a safe space to hibernate in the winter.

wild hedgehog in garden

Stop your endless battle against the weeds and simply let them grow – and put that bottle of weedkiller down! A weed is just a flower that’s grown in the wrong place: start viewing it as a flower that’s grown in the right place. Plant more self-seeding flowers (or make an effort to seed your own flowers) which not only saves you money but also encourages plants to grow just as nature intended: wherever they land! Replace traditional fence panels (which can often trap animals) with hedges which allow them to pass from garden to garden, as well as providing a safe place for birds to nest.

If you’re keen on growing your own food, step away from pesticides and try using garlic water instead. If you’re still worried about slugs, encourage nature to solve the problem for you – a pond will attract frogs and toads, and they’ll eat the slugs. A garden pond with sloping sides (or an exit ramp) will also give garden birds and wild mammals a safe place to drink and bathe.

A wild garden is, invariably, a messy garden. For hundreds of years we’ve taken pride in our perfectly manicured, well-curated gardens with neat flower beds and horizontally-striped lawns. But in 2018, we have to ask ourselves a question: what do we value more – our perfect lawns or the beautiful, natural world which is struggling to thrive around us?

Jenny at PrimroseLotti works with the Primrose Product Loading team, creating product descriptions and newsletter headers.

When not writing, Lotti enjoys watching (and over-analyzing) indie movies with a pint from the local craft brewery or cosplaying at London Comic Con.

Lotti is learning to roller skate, with limited success.

See all of Lotti’s posts.

Current Issues, Garden Design, Gardening Year, Gardens, Guest Posts

garden trends 2018

When spring and summer are on the horizon our attention turns to how much we’re looking forward to enjoying the garden on sunny days, and what we can do to make the most of our space. This is going to be a big year for gardeners, so put on your gloves, roll up your sleeves and get ready to get covered in grass stains. From completely restyling a huge back garden to enjoying your balcony or terrace, here are five of the best garden trends for 2018.

1. Growing your own

Growing your own has always been popular, but with a rapidly growing trend towards eating a more plant-based diet it’s destined to become even more so. Depending on the space you have you can be as ambitious as you like – the garden is your oyster. However, if space is of a premium, runner beans, tomatoes, herbs and hanging fruit plants can all be grown in small areas. There’s nothing more rewarding than tucking into the fruits (and veg) of your labour!

2. Dining al fresco

What better way to enjoy the fruits of your labour than outdoors? Al fresco dining is a wonderful way to enjoy the garden, in both the day and the evening; in the sun and even when the temperatures drop. Set aside an outside dining space, complete with furniture, cool lighting and either a fire pit, chimney or patio heater so you can enjoy it at all times.

3. Forest-inspired colours

If you’re really into the latest trends and colour is an important part of your garden theme, then natural is the way to go in 2018. And by natural we mean lush forest-inspired deep greens, woodland golds and browns, shades of berries and rustic reds. These are some of the shades included in Pantone’s Verdure palette for the coming year. You can of course impart your own personality with bright tones found in flowering shrubs and herbs, bold colours on your fence or some funky dining furniture. But keep a base of natural for an on-trend look and add a twist with other colours of your choosing.

4. The wonder of Wabi-sabi

Sticking with the natural theme, and it doesn’t come more natural than this, is the Japanese art of Wabi-sabi. This garden art form has been around for over 500 years and actually requires pretty minimal effort. It’s all about combining the slight nurturing of your garden with embracing the natural imperfections of your outside space: the moss on your brickwork and stones, those rusty gate handles and hinges, that overgrown shrubbery and those distressed pots. If the thought of getting covered in dirt isn’t for you, this trend is perfect.

planting cacti

5. Small-space gardening

It’s not always possible to create elaborate garden themes, particularly when you don’t actually have a garden, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still create a cool outside space. Whether it’s a balcony, tiny courtyard or even a windowsill, you can still get growing. Rather than looking down, look up! Use balconies and wrap them in climbing shrubs, buy vertical structures to grow flowers on and create a palette of outdoor tones in your window box. With a little space and a lot of imagination there’s plenty that can be done. With space being more at a premium than ever, small-space gardening has become a big thing.

Have fun implementing some of this year’s best garden trends into your outside space and enjoy!

Eleanor CainesEleanor is a freelance writer. She loves to write about everything from gardening to travels. Her favourite part of her outside space is the fairy garden she created with her daughter.

Current Issues, Gardening Year, Lotti, Wildlife


In the lonely mountain farm, My abundant catch I take. There is a hearth, and table, And friluftsliv for my thoughts.

– Henrik Ibsen

According to The World Happiness Report, Norway is the happiest country in the world. There’s a huge number of reasons for this, from their supportive welfare system to their high average income, but when you ask Norwegians why their country appears to be so content, there’s a very consistent answer: friluftsliv.

Friluftsliv (literally, “free air life” or “open air living”, and pronounced free-loofts-liv) is one of those scandinavian words which which is so unique to a language and culture that it becomes hard to describe in English. Like its Swedish predecessor Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), friluftsliv encompasses an idea which is both familiar yet near-impossible to put into words.

In short, friluftsliv describes a connection to nature, a strong desire to spend time outside and connect with the world around you. To describe Norway’s infatuation with the outdoors as a “way of life” is, really, disingenuous to the real meaning of Friluftsliv. Friluftsliv is a feeling, a sense of self. It goes far beyond a mere life choice and becomes more like a cultural identity.

free land

In 1957, Norway officially introduced Allemannsretten (the ‘all man’s right’) with the passing of the Outdoor Recreation Act. This right to roam means that in Norway you can go on skis or foot wherever you want provided you are within unfenced land – this means all land that isn’t privately owned (like a garden) or cultivated land being used to grow crops or rear animals. In the winter months, when Norway is transformed into a white blanket of snow, Allemannsretten is extended to fields and meadows. Not only can you go wherever you please, you can also set up camp and sleep everywhere except in lay-bys or cultivated fields so long as you remain over 150 meters from the nearest house. If you want to stay another night, you need to ask permission from the owner of the land (unless you’re in a remote area).

It’s well researched that spending more time outside is better for your overall mental and physical health, yet in the UK, lots of people avoid going outside unless they have to. Going outside is part of a chore, of a larger pattern. You need to walk to work, you need to take the dog out, you need to bike to the train station to visit your family. This isn’t friluftsliv – friluftsliv means going outside because you want to, because nature calls to you, not because you need to.

In the UK there are fewer wild spaces than ever, and it can often be difficult to “get lost” in nature in quite the same way as our Scandinavian neighbours. In the UK, where our population is fifteen times that of the Norway’s and our land mass smaller, there simply isn’t the space for rolling wilderness. If you’re very lucky, you might live near a patch of National Trust land which (save for the odd sheep) will be left as nature intended. So, if you don’t feel like emigrating to Norway, you’ll have to start looking for nature a little closer to home.


There’s a surprising number of wild spaces in the UK if you just know where to look – the lofty peak district, the rambling chilterns or the Cornish Heritage Coastline. There’s something very atmospheric about finding yourself alone in nature – be it the middle of a deep wood, atop a mountain doused in clouds or perched on a cliff watching the sea beat at the rock. Finding land which is completely untouched by humans can be difficult in the UK: you can see the annals of human history spelled out before you in the land itself in ancient stone circles or crumbling tin mines. Sometimes, despite our best intentions to run away from the effect of people on the world around us, it has an unerring way of following us. It shows us that humans have, for thousands of years, been wanderers. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

On my way to work I used to travel through a strange patch of wilderness on the outskirts of Wokingham; partly a dirt track through fields and partly through an actual wood. When you grow up in a busy town with only man-made outdoor spaces (which tend to be flat, grassy affairs), finding a wood feels almost like a miracle. On the way home after one particularly stressful day, I thought to myself there’ll always be another bus, and let myself get lost. At first I followed the little dirt paths and then I decided to forego the paths entirely and just wander whichever direction I felt like.

Wandering through the woods was freeing. I was there for no reason other than that I wanted to be there, crunching through the leaves and running my hands along trees older than my great-grandparents. I followed a robin hopping from branch to branch and spent a good ten minutes chasing down a strange noise which turned out to be an angry squirrel – something I’d never heard before. I walked past the same group of ramblers three or four times, who’d at first looked at me (dressed in my work clothes and unsensible shoes) like I’d gone mad, and then started to greet me with the rambler’s head nod. This is what friluftsliv feels like.


There’s a sense of freedom synonymous with Friluftsliv which is what makes it so appealing. A sense of disconnection from the rest of the world and contentment with being at one with nature. Our lives are driven by purpose – we have to do this, we must do that – and so when that falls away and the only purpose is to simply exist, it’s a lot easier to feel content.

No one’s asking that we all suddenly rise from our desks, leave our jobs and run away to live in the woods. Sure, it sounds like a great idea now, but soon enough the last phone will run out of battery and then we’ll all be stuck with nowhere to watch Game of Thrones. Whether you live in the middle of London or in the concrete jungle of Milton Keynes, there’s always a place to find a bit of nature. Every town or city will have a park somewhere, even if it’s just a small patch of land in between office blocks and rows of terraced houses. The thought of going outside and standing in the garden in the middle of winter doesn’t necessarily fill people with inspiration, but finding and supporting local wild spaces is easier than it seems.

In the harsh winter months it can be tempting to stay indoors and avoid the chilly bite of the cold air. But in Norway, where the temperature regular dips into the minus digits (currently standing at a brisk -7°C), spending time outside is simply the done thing. As the Norwegians say – there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. So it’s time to swap those jeans for a pair of practical waterproof hiking trousers, the slippers for a sturdy pair of boots and get outside to get back in touch with nature.

Jenny at PrimroseLotti works with the Primrose Product Loading team, creating product descriptions and newsletter headers.

When not writing, Lotti enjoys watching (and over-analyzing) indie movies with a pint from the local craft brewery or cosplaying at London Comic Con.

Lotti is learning to roller skate, with limited success.

See all of Lotti’s posts.