A cozy living room is pretty much top of most people’s lists at the moment – for obvious reasons, we are all spending more time at home than in previous years and when you consider the most used space in a home is the living space, it stands to reason.
From busy family spaces to quiet rooms to retreat to, cozy living rooms should be functional spaces and above all, comfortable. This is even more important in the winter months when all we crave is a cozy space to unwind in at the end of a busy day.
There are plenty of big and small changes you can make to your living room to make the space feel cozier and more inviting. From the colors you decorate with, the furniture to choose and the lighting to pick, they all can have a transformative effect on cold, dreary living space.
It’s important, too, not to strip out all of the things in your living room that make it unique – it’s those pieces that add individuality to space and make it real and inviting. ‘Flexibility is key – eclectic furniture and keynote accessories not only make your home more welcoming, they’re a great way to express your personality.’ Sam Baldry, head of design at Swoon.
So, if you’re looking for ways to make your living space more inviting, more cocooning, and more cosseting, you’ve come to the right place.
1. INSTALL MOOD LIGHTING
Lighting can make or break the atmosphere in your living room. Design experts love a layered approach that can be dialed up, or down, as required.
Interior designer Nicky Dobree recommends using plenty of lamps to cast soft, warm light across the room at a lower level. Instead of a lone central pendant, she prefers indirect spotlights, on dimmers if possible. ‘They’re more discreet and can be hidden in the beams,’ she says.
2. CHOOSE NATURAL SHADES
‘We’re seeing a lot more terracotta, clay and rust colors coming through,’ says Charlie Marshall, founder of Loaf, which has introduced ten new fabrics in edible shades, such as Caramel, Pinky Peanut, and Praline. These tones are ideally suited in a country setting and can be softened with a neutral off-white backdrop.
‘Velvet is a relatively new trend that’s gaining traction on sofas, and a great way to fast track a bit of luxury into your living room. For stress-free entertaining, go for modern “smart” or “clever” velvet, which is designed to be stain resistant.’
3. PLAY WITH TEXTURE
When the weather outside is frightful, there’s nothing like snuggling up on a cozy sofa. A biannual cushion update from summery cotton and linens to more cosseting fabrics can be all it takes to ready your cozy living room for winter.
‘Texture is an important aspect of choosing winter textiles. Look for the softest wool throws in chunky and rib knits and faux fur cushions,’ says Sam Hood, creative director at Amara. ‘Neutral colors are great for developing a warm look that will resonate well in a country home.’
4. PLAY WITH YOUR LAYOUT
When it comes to planning the layout of your living room, while most under the age of 20 would wager that the TV should be the room’s focal point, an attractive fireplace is a far more stylish option.
If you use your fireplace, make sure you don’t position seating too near and risk cooking your guests! You’ll also need enough space to store fuel – at least 20 inches (50cm) clearance is recommended.
A centrally located coffee table is ideal for hosting drinks and reading material, but it shouldn’t be an obstacle or make sofa access tricky. Aim for about 12-16 inches (30-40cm) clearance all around. Pull sofas away from the walls if possible, too.
5. CHOOSE YOUR FURNITURE WITH CARE
‘When choosing a coffee table, it’s important to think about how it will be positioned in the room, as well as how it will work with the existing aesthetic. Avoid anything too on-trend, as you may find that you tire of it quickly and it will need to be replaced,’ says Emma Sims Hilditch, founder, and creative director at Sims Hilditch. ‘We love to push two identical coffee tables together.’
6. AIM FOR A SOPHISTICATED LOOK
For a more adult entertaining space, pick shapely furniture with elegance and grace. Symmetry is key, but don’t over-play the coordination or it may appear stiff and unwelcoming.
‘To create a sophisticated look, it’s important to choose things you really like or cherish. Avoid anything too gimmicky and don’t try to match everything,’ says Tim Walters, managing director at George Spencer Designs.
‘The most relaxing homes should be a reflection of who we are, evolving and growing with us over time to create a natural form of layering in design and color,’ adds Tim.
7. DRESS YOUR WINDOWS WELL
Never underestimate the cosseting capabilities of living room curtains. Adding comfort in a way blinds never can, curtains can be used to dress even the smallest of windows and will help keep the heat inside in the process.
Even if your window is small or awkwardly placed, as, in this country cottage, a thickly lined curtain can add color and warmth. Here, Sanderson has used a single outsized curtain to make the small offset window appear bigger.
‘Generous curtains in earthy tones create the perfect backdrop for cozy nights by the fireplace,’ says Rebecca Craig, lead designer at Sanderson.
8. CONSIDER INSTALLING A WOODBURNING STOVE
It’s not just the heat that makes an indoor fire so enticing, it’s the whole package: the smell, the sound, the soft light.
‘The ambiance a wood-burning stove creates is unbeatable,’ says Emma Sims-Hilditch. ‘They also emit a delicious woody aroma. In addition, a statement mantelpiece surround can create a focus in a room.’
Woodburning stoves also come with the ability to regulate the heat and can be left (provided they are well maintained) without constant supervision, making it a relatively low maintenance option, too.
‘The other bonus is that they are much more flexible when it comes to installation,’ adds Henriette von Stockhausen of VSP Interiors.
9. DON’T SHY AWAY FROM PATTERN
An abundance of patterns can make a large open space appear a lot more intimate. From patterned living room wallpaper to cushions or pillows, upholstery, and flooring, patterns can be implemented pretty much anywhere in a space that feels too cold or open to give it a cozy feel.
‘Pattern need not always be partnered with plain,’ says Susie Watson, Director of Susie Watson Designs. ‘Try mixing designs for a more eclectic look, which is easier to live with than you might think.’
10. CHOOSE WRAPAROUND FURNITURE
Echoing the direction of the walls, a sectional, corner, a modular or curved sofa that is configured to wrap around a room will add a cosseting feel to a living space.
They’re ideal for small living rooms as they allow you to use every inch of your space, keeping it relaxed and intimate. Also an excellent choice for larger spaces, you can place the sofa into the center of the room, breaking up the open area and making the room feel instantly cozier.
HOW CAN I MAKE MY LIVING ROOM FEEL COZY?
There are plenty of ways to make your living room feel cozier, but as a rule, it’s best to focus on areas such as lighting, furniture, and texture.
With lighting, you should switch off the bright overhead light (use this only whenever you’re cleaning or doing something practical) and introduce a variety of light sources around the room.
Furniture should fill the room without overcrowding – sectional sofas, footstool, and so on – the right furniture will instantly add a cocooning effect to even the largest of spaces.
The soft texture should be included all around the space – the look needs to be cozy and inviting so introduce an ottoman instead of a coffee table, drapes, and curtains instead of shutters, rugs, and carpet instead of hard flooring. Add cushions and throws to soften up a contemporary shaped sofa, too.
WHAT COLORS MAKE A LIVING ROOM COZY?
Don’t necessarily assume that the color white will make a room feel cold. A similar assumption about dark walls making a small room feed small is also incorrect.
White, teamed with plenty of texture, natural fabrics, and surfaces can look instantly appealing. Dark shades on walls make a room feel cozy, not small – perfect in the winter months.
‘While white shutters will always appeal,’ says Mark Lucas, designer at Hillarys, ‘We’re seeing an increasing trend towards colored and stained wood.’
HOW CAN I WARM UP MY LIVING ROOM?
Aside from installing a fireplace, a wood-burning stove, or adding more radiators, there’s plenty you can do to a room decor-wise to add visual warmth to space.
Add cosseting fabrics and accessories for instant warmth and if you’re worried your living room may look too warm or dark in spring and summertime, you can always switch out some of your decor – swap dark, heavy drapes for lighter, brighter versions and scale back the use of throws and pillows.