A cozy, inviting home gives you a relaxing place to unwind after a long day, a comfortable spot for small family gatherings, and a welcoming environment for entertaining friends. Creating that cozy atmosphere takes more than some throw pillows and candles, though. The right lighting, furniture layout, and decor choices also play a role in turning a house into a snug and comfy home.
Layer Your Lighting
Lighting has a major influence on the overall ambiance of a room. By layering your lighting, you’ll get enough light for day-to-day tasks but still have the option of turning the lights down to a soft, gentle glow for cozier moments.
In addition to general ambient lighting, provide task lighting, such as bright lamps for reading and undercabinet lighting in the kitchen. Using table lamps for task lighting helps bring the light down to a human level.
Then add accent lighting to highlight features such as cabinets, stairways, and artwork. This lighting gives your rooms depth and a finishing touch that shows attention to detail.
To lend the room a calming warmth, choose lights with a dimmer switch and use LED bulbs with a “warm white” (around 3,000K) color temperature.
Work with a Muted Color Palette
For a peaceful, relaxing living space, work from a limited palette of natural colors and keep prints to a minimum. Tonal palettes, which use different shades of the same color, work especially well. For a more varied palette, it helps to start with a warm color or a color with warm undertones. Beyond that, anything from pastels to rich jewel tones can set a cozy mood.
Light colors expand a small space, while dark colors create a sense of intimacy in a larger space. The rich, earthy shades of brown, green, and red used in traditional British hunting lodges show just how effectively dark colors can warm up a room.
Invest in Natural Materials
Hard plastic and polyester might be practical, but they don’t please the senses quite the way natural materials do. Cotton, wool, wood, and even stone invite touch, lending your home an aura of comfort. Their connection to nature and traditional crafts breathes life into a space. Because they’re associated with higher quality furniture and decor, they evoke an air of timeless, relaxed luxury.
Get Creative with Your Walls
Instead of playing it safe with solid-colored walls, look at your walls as an opportunity to express your personality. A single accent wall with unusual wallpaper can change the whole mood of a room. Soft watercolors contribute a lot to a cozy atmosphere, but a bold print in low-key colors can also do the job.
Wallpaper with a photo-realistic image of a forest, lakeside or ocean beach lets you create a private escape into nature right in your own home. A mural is another option.
If you’re not feeling quite that daring, the endless variety of removable wall decals out there will let you add a homey charm to your walls without the need for a long-term commitment.
Seek Out Antiques and Handicrafts
Much of what makes a home cozy is its sense of character and history. Antique, vintage, and handcrafted items add to your home’s character by giving the space a human touch and bringing their unique background stories into your daily life.
Even if you’re aiming for a modern look, a single time-worn or handcrafted rocking chair, coffee table, framed mirror or other distinctive item will add a vital touch of personality. You’ll get a space that looks like a cherished home, and not a retail display room. The attention to detail that goes into handcrafted items also adds a more personal feel.
Choose Comfy Furniture
In a snug home, the furniture should be made to enjoy. An oversized sectional sofa, a plush chaise lounge, a cushy easy chair or an overstuffed ottoman all go toward making a home more welcoming. Your furniture should be both soft enough and large enough to invite you to curl up and relax.
Choose low-maintenance material so you’re not constantly worried about dirt and spills. Leather is easy to clean and offers all the benefits of a natural material, but not everyone finds it comfortable.
If you prefer fabric, keep in mind that synthetics are generally easier to clean than natural fibers. You’ll need to balance aesthetics with practicality here. In terms of appearance, avoid furniture sets. The matchy-matchy look feels impersonal.
Arrange Your Furniture for Flow
Cramped spaces aren’t cozy, they’re just uncomfortable. For a space to feel inviting, it should be easy to move around in. Arrange your living room furniture so that each seat is easy to reach without the need to edge in sideways or move other furniture. Leave 30 to 36 inches between furniture you need to walk around.
Arranging seating in the tried and true conversation circle style is a good bet for encouraging friendly chats. Forming a semi-circle around a focal point, such as the entertainment center, fireplace or a picture window, works well, too. For optimal comfort, make sure every seat has a nearby surface to place a drink on and a light to read by.
Clear Out the Clutter
Cozy homes are light and airy, letting you move with ease and freeing you from visual distractions. If you’re struggling with clutter, investing in good storage will make your home a whole lot more comfortable. Storage bins made of felt, cotton, sea grass or wood keep odds and ends corralled while adding an extra touch of coziness. Wood trays on the coffee table and kitchen table keep these surfaces looking neat and appealing.
If your bedroom is short on closet space, bring in an open wardrobe. If your entryway is a mess, put together an entryway station using wall hooks, trays, and cubbies to make a welcoming first impression on your visitors.
Pile on Touchable Textiles
Textiles add softness and warmth, invite touch, and make a space you can snuggle up to. Throw pillows, throw blankets, area rugs, tablecloths, chair pads, wall hangings, and cloth storage bins are all options. For an extra-cozy floor, give the layered carpet trend a try by rolling out a smaller area rug on top of a large one.
Too add both visual and tactile interest, aim for a variety of textures. Choose a shaggy rug to contrast with a wood floor or nubby pillows and a chunky knit throw to top off a sleek leather sofa. If your sofa is richly textured, contrast it with smooth linen or even suede throw pillows.
Soften Straight Lines
Softly flowing organic forms have a natural, relaxed look that fosters a soothing atmosphere. If the straight lines and sharp angles of your furniture and architecture make your space look more like a corporate office than a cozy home, softening them up will give you more comfortable surroundings.
Round pillows, casually draped throws, irregularly shaped throw rugs, vases with gentle curves, and round mirrors all help balance out harsh lines.
Bring in the Green
Potted plants give rooms a homey, down-to-earth touch like no other decor can. Trailing vines and bushy plants, with their carefree growth habits, are especially good choices, as are plants with soft or lacy leaves.
For plants with personality, try the cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa), string-of-pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) and asparagus fern (Plumosus nanus). Put your plants in crochet baskets, macrame hangers or other textile holders for even more coziness.
Warm Up by the Fire
A crackling fire is the ultimate in coziness, but if a wood-burning fireplace isn’t an option, consider a modern alternative for that soul-soothing warmth and glow.
A gas fireplace will supply plenty of heat, but the need to install ventilation makes this option rather pricey. An electric fireplace is a more convenient way to get the light and warmth of a fire, although you won’t have real flames. For real flames without complex installation requirements, consider a gel fuel fireplace.
Creating a cozier home is less about piling on the pillows, than about designing a stress-free space where you can stretch out and breathe easy. Start by getting your lighting and color palette right, then choose furniture that invites you to lounge for a while.
Once you’ve got comfort handled, give your home a personal touch with natural materials, vintage pieces, and other items that tell a story. Then finish the look with some quirky potted plants.