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One of the most frequent questions I get asked by clients is ‘how can I make my home feel cozy and inviting?’ Often it’s the finishing touches that we struggle with the most, but that’s what sets the mood and dictates the feel of a space. You’ve splashed out on your dream sofa, bought a new coffee table, and put a few of your favorite things out but nothing seems to pull it together into a calm, cohesive scheme. It doesn’t take much to bring a warm, welcoming feel to space – you’ve probably got most of the tools already – but it requires careful consideration.
It’s not just about lighting a few candles and pulling out a soft throw either. A cozy living room makes living in it easy and natural because it’s been designed with comfort in mind, from how the furniture is arranged to how it is lit and what materials have been used. Making a space feel cozy is about appealing to all the senses, not just how a room might look. You need to think about scent, touch, and sound so that everything comes together to create a homely ambiance conducive to relaxing and unwinding. Get it right and you’ll complete your very own sanctuary that you can’t wait to spend time in. Here are eight tips for making your living room feel cozy.
Texture and tactility
Soften clean lines, bare walls, and open spaces by layering up the texture in your living room. A bit of texture can warm up even the most neutral of homes – every home needs some. Swap synthetic manufactured materials and shiny surfaces for natural materials such as lightly stained wood, rattan, jute, organic cotton, and linen. We’re drawn to texture because our minds are naturally suspicious of anything too perfect or polished. A pristine surface can appear bland and one-dimensional to our eye but add some tactility and complexity, making it seem exciting and intriguing. You can’t help but stroke the creases of a linen cushion, wrap a wool blanket around your shoulders or appreciate the natural grain in wood.
Smooth shapes and rounded edges
A cozy living room needs smooth, curved shapes to give an inviting feel. Hard, sharp edges and many straight lines suggest a feeling of rigidity and inflexibility, giving the impression that you have to sit up straight and take it all seriously. Create a more relaxing ambiance by letting your living room suggest a more carefree type of behavior. In a cozy living room, you want the furniture to feel like it’s almost embracing you and giving you a warm hug – so you can sink into a sofa, curl up and get comfy. Circular furniture, such as a round coffee table, encourages you to gather around it like we once did around a fire. At the same time, rounded corners on items like sofas and armchairs make them feel more tactile and welcoming. Add squishy cushions too hard surfaces and soft rugs under furniture.
Add some color and tone.
White walls can feel bright and airy during the day, but in some lights, they can feel quite stark and cold. Choose complementary colors opposite each other in the spectrum to create a balanced look (e.g., navy blue and tan). Add a subtle hint of hue on the walls to warm everything up; even just an off-white or light beige will make a space feel cozier because it feels more natural. You can also introduce some color to your accessories, layering up the tone to create pops of interest and break up the expanse of material on a sofa or armchair.
Turn the overhead light off.
No one wants to sit in their living room in the evening with the overhead light on full – the bright glare makes you feel alert and awake, not rested. Install a dimmer switch on your lights and layer your lighting with multiple light sources to create a warm, inviting setting. Plenty of accent lights help set the scene with a softer, more diffused light. In a cozy living room, use lamps to create focal points on side tables, sideboards, and shelves – it will help draw your eye around the space to these cozy, inviting corners. You can read my tips for getting the lighting right and setting the mood here.
Use your furniture to create moments of intimacy.
With clients, I often talk about pieces of furniture being in conversation. Thinking about how you might use a space can feel more natural if you’re positioned opposite or at an angle to someone. The default layout often means pushing everything against a wall to try and give a greater sense of space. But this can give the feeling that you’re in a waiting room at the doctor’s surgery. Cluster your furniture together to provide an impression of intimacy – an armchair set at an angle opposite a sofa, for instance.
Block out the outside world
I’ve talked about introvert interiors before, but part of getting cozy is creating space for a quiet, restorative moment away from it all. And often that might mean being away from people and the noise and stresses of the modern world. Hang natural linen curtains over windows to give a sense of privacy, choose discreet technology that doesn’t dominate the space, turn your phone on silent in the evenings to help you wind down, put on some relaxing music, and hunker down.
Use warm, uplifting scents.
The smell of cooked food, musty linen, and stagnant air doesn’t make you feel like getting cozy. Set the mood with soothing scents that can transport you to a little moment of escapism. Make sure to air the room during the day, then light a candle or spritz some eco-friendly room spray in the evening. Use scents that remind you of a time when you were relaxed. Bring the outdoors in with smokey, woody scents or create a spa-like feel with fragrant lavender and fresh, green notes. Smell has a powerful influence on our mood – as soon as I light the candles, it sends a little signal to my brain that it’s time to chill.
What makes you feel at home?
Think about what connects you to home and surround yourself with the things you love. For some, it might be surrounding themselves with plants and nature; for others, it might mean using bright patterns to bring a space to life. For me, flowers and books instantly make me feel at home. Maybe it’s because growing up, and my mum always bought fresh flowers for the house each week. By giving a deeper meaning to a space and thinking carefully about the objects we surround ourselves with, we can create an interior that’s cozy and welcoming on multiple levels beyond just aesthetics.
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