by Robin Roenker
There’s decorating — choosing a couch, chairs, coffee table and entertainment center. And then there’s decorating — the fun part of filling in the room with things that make it feel like you. It’s the little things that transform a room from a functional space to a comfortable, cozy retreat. These 13 tried-and-true tricks make your home feel more cozy, no matter what your decorating style or budget is.
- Warm or crisp colors. Say goodbye to bland, off-white walls. Nothing cozies up a room quite like a simple coat of paint. Whether you go for a rich terracotta or gold, a rustic red, or a soothing mocha brown, deep golden hues bring warmth to any room. But if warm colors aren’t your favorite, don’t fret. Cool, crisp colors — such as whites, pale blues or grays, light greens and even lavender — can be equally cozy and inviting, especially if you accessorize throughout the room with bold, contrasting pops of darker colors.
- Intimate seating. Arrange chairs and couches in small groupings to foster conversation. Anchor each seating nook around key architectural features of your room, such as a fireplace, built-in bookshelves or bay windows. Having several smaller seating areas adds a feeling of intimacy and coziness to even the largest rooms.
- Area rugs. Everyone loves the look of hardwood, but let’s face it: it doesn’t feel that cozy to your feet, especially on cold days. If you have hardwood floors, soften the room and add a touch of color with a well-chosen area rug. It’ll be an inviting, cozy spot for everyone to gather on family game night. And it serves as a visual anchor to the room’s main seating area.
- Throw pillows. “Cozy” and “pillow” are practically synonymous. Throw pillows in bold colors or patterns can soften the look of even the most formal leather furniture and subdue the stiffness of otherwise austere antique chairs. Plus, mixing and matching pillow sizes, colors and styles is just plain fun.
- Blankets or throws. Toss an heirloom quilt or fuzzy wool throw over the back of your couch or armchair for a quick, simple statement that says, “Coziness allowed here. This room is for curling up with a great book.”
- Slipcovers. Hide outdated furniture patterns or stained cushions with a simple, inexpensive slipcover. Loose-fitting slipcovers add a casual, lived-in look that invites guests (and your family and pets) to sit down and relax. Plus, if you get too cozy during movie night and accidently drop a dab of chocolate ice cream on the couch, there’s no worries: just toss the slipcover into the wash.
- Flowers or plants. Bring a touch of nature into your room with fresh flowers or a live houseplant. On a dreary winter’s day, a striking vase of daisies or a pot of forced narcissus bulbs can exude enough warmth and coziness to get you through until spring.
- Photographs. Realtors tell you to hide your family photos when you’re trying to sell your place. But when you’re living there, show them off with pride. Photos are the souvenirs of our lives. Even just a few well-placed, favorite photographs can turn a stark, cold room into a family room in the truest sense of the word.
- Books. If you’re lucky enough to have built-in bookcases or shelving in your room, fill them to the brim with books — your favorite books, books you want to read someday, photography books and almanacs that simply look nice. Books give your room the feel of an intimate, quiet retreat — a space where, when the day quiets down, you can rejuvenate. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the pure, cozy pleasure of diving into a good book on a rainy afternoon.
- Knick-knacks or collections. Display that favorite vintage basket or treasured piece of art, even hang that trio of antique signs above the couch. Cozying up your room with unique, funky, unexpected items allows you to share your own individual design style. Just be careful not to go overboard. Displaying all 100 of your antique glass vases may make the room feel more cluttered than cozy.
- Lighting. Don’t settle for stark, too-bright overhead lighting that can wash out your room. Instead, fill your room with waves of warm, ambient light from multiple low-wattage lamps. Put a lamp on every end table and use floor lamps near couches and chairs. Set an intimate, cozy mood by using only the lights you absolutely need. Lighting a few candles when the mood strikes adds another cozy touch.
- Draperies. While blinds are convenient, they can have an industrial formal feel. Soften blinds by pairing them with long, luxurious linen panel draperies or a simple swag valance.
- Ottomans, storage cubes or trunks. Instead of a traditional, formal wooden coffee table, consider a less-stiff alternative. Oversized, cushioned ottomans, groupings of upholstered storage cubes, or vintage trunks can do the work of a coffee table and are much more inviting for propping up your feet.
Freelance writer Robin Roenker loves curling up under a cozy blanket with a good book.