5 easy ways to make your space so much cosier

Design experts share how they make rooms feel more inviting year round.

Design experts share how they make rooms feel more inviting year round

a cosy living room with a patterned rug, a grey sectional sofa with lots of cushions, a floor lamp, a wooden coffee table and a leather chair.
(Source: Hibou Design & Co.; photography by Drew Hadley)

Looking to transform a stark space into something cosier and more comfortable? We asked Eugenia Triandos, principal interior designer and co-owner at Hibou Design & Co., and Sara Wetmore, senior designer at Dart Studio, to share their go-to methods for for making a home look warmer and more welcoming. 

Whether you're designing from scratch, planning a makeover or simply hoping for some quick and easy ideas, these are the expert tips and design rules to keep in mind. 

Incorporate textiles and textures

"I would always start, I think, with a rug," Wetmore said. "[Rugs] do a lot to tie the room together. So if you have one in your living room, it really anchors the space and it just creates a room very quickly and very easily." A rug "adds an instant cosy factor" with texture, colour and pattern, and you can find stylish options at different price points, she noted. 

Triandos suggested adding texture wherever you can. "Rugs, window coverings, introducing natural elements — like different types of materials, like wicker, wood — that instantly bring warmth to a space," she said. This is particularly important if you have neutral colours in play. "When we're working with a lot of neutrals, it's easy for your space to feel flat," she said. 

Triandos said when buying furniture, go with wood, warm-toned leather, or fabrics with texture, instead of materials like glass and chrome. Then decorate with textiles like linen, bouclé, velvet and jute. "If you're looking at a space and everything feels stiff and not so inviting, it tends to feel more cold," she said. If you're looking for a quick fix, accessories like a heavy-knit throw or pillows are easy and affordable ways to add depth and softness. 

Adjust the lighting

"Having lots of variety with your lighting is pretty much the number 1 way to make the space feel warm and cosy — less about overhead and more about soft corners," Wetmore said. She recommended using a mix of different lighting throughout your home and avoiding ceiling lights unless you can control them with a dimmer switch. 

"I put all lighting on a dimmer if possible," she said. Then she will add lamps for reading and some that are simply decorative. 

Wetmore also suggested using warm-white light bulbs (no higher than 2700 K) instead of bright white or daylight bulbs, especially if your furniture or walls are cool-toned. LEDs, she noted, "have come a long way … [and] are quite soft now." 

Try warm tones and pops of colour

The colours in your home can make a big difference too. Not surprisingly, a house painted in cool tones — blue or stark white, for example — will feel less cosy than one with warm tones, like burnt orange, yellow and creamy neutrals, as Triandos explained. 

"I think we're moving back into the world of more saturated colours," said Wetmore. She suggests trying pieces in rich tones or adding colour to neutral furniture with items like pillows. "That pop of warmth in a cushion goes a long way," she said.

Decorate with plants

"Plants add warmth," Triandos said. "Green always adds warmth to a space. And again, [it provides] depth and texture."

And according to Wetmore, it helps to group plants in pots of a similar style so there's a sense of cohesion. "I think a grouping of plants looks really nice," she said. When arranging your plants, Wetmore recommended playing with different heights and leaf shapes; pots should have a consistent "tone," but you can mix sizes and designs. 

Rearrange furniture and add creature comforts

You might want to move pieces around seasonally to create intimate and inviting seating arrangements, for example. "Maybe at this time of year, your sofa's facing the fireplace, if you have one, whereas in the summer, you can turn it and have it more directed towards the outdoor environment," Wetmore said.

Wetmore will also add creature comforts to a space — like a bowl of oranges or nuts, or a basket of magazines and books — to "create a cosy feel." Similarly, she suggested playing music and using a fragrance diffuser to add to the ambiance. "It's all about the senses, right? All the senses coming together," she said. "Things … that just make you want to be in the room because everything you need is there."

Truc Nguyen is a Toronto-based writer, editor and stylist. Follow her at @trucnguyen.  


Truc Nguyen is a Toronto-based writer, editor and stylist. Follow her at @trucnguyen.

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