Don’t wish away your winter — it’s a wonderful time of year. The onset of cooler weather can be a great time for an interiors refresh. Check out these delightful ways to create your own winter-ready and cosy home.
Whether it’s the lower temperatures, the higher energy bills or the shorter days, we can sometimes miss all the joy that comes with the coolest season of the year. It’s a time for family to gather, hot chocolate to be drunk and beds to be snuggled into, so there’s plenty to be thankful for this season. And it all starts with a cosy home.
What does it mean to create a cosy home? The dictionary definition attributes comfort, warmth and relaxation to the word. Jade Bury, interior architect at Harper Lane, describes cosy as meaning “safe, comfortable and serene”. “Spaces that make the occupant feel relaxed and at ease,” she says, “with a true sense of ‘home’. It’s an atmosphere and a feeling the space gives.”
Creating a cosy home doesn’t mean embarking on a full renovation. Similar to summer and winter wardrobes, the colours, textures, styles and materials we use change with the season. Not only that, but the way we use a space will reflect rising or falling temperatures. During summer, families tend to spread to the edges of a room, but winter encourages the opposite. “When lounging and seating pieces are centred with intent around a coffee table or fireplace, they create a natural heart of the room,” explains Grace Fernan, interior designer at Coco Republic. “When a room turns inwards, this ‘introverted’ style of furniture creates the perfect place to entertain and relax.”
A warm front
It’s not as simple as just lighting a fire; it’s a sense of closeness that we crave at this time. “We look for inviting furniture pieces to help facilitate these intimate moments in our home,” Grace says. “Rounded curvature form, solid structure, flowing loose covers and spacious scale are attractive design features for seating. As we retreat inside to work, read and take time for ourselves, we want our furniture to invite us to stay a while with maximum comfort. Look for sofas with comfortable enveloping shapes and rounded cushions.”
A cosy home isn’t about perfection, either — there’s joy in the personal details that fill a home. If a space is too precise, it can come across as a show home. “Don’t be afraid to mix pieces you love from different ranges,” interior stylist Liz Amaya encourages. “This may be a pop of colour through an occasional chair, a vintage sofa for interest or an heirloom from a relative in the family from years ago. You want something that adds character and warmth to your home.”
Part of winter’s charm is to draw you into an inviting space where loved ones can spend quality time together. Many of the ways we can decorate to create a cosy home are fairly obvious. Opt for terracotta, ochre or other warm tones to incorporate into your colour scheme. Warm tones make a home feel (to no-one’s surprise) warmer! Of course, you can never go wrong with a neutral palette either. Soften your room with light pinks or beiges to avoid a cold, monochrome look.
“Your interior can also convey warmth through an earthy colour palette, showcasing rustic woods and natural materials,” Grace points out. “Rich exposed timbers create visual warmth in a room, while tactile tan leathers can soften when teamed with rich velvet curtains and soft furnishings. Deep-seated styles and comfort upholstery of textured lambswool and bouclé are pure luxury for winter lounging.”
Take notice of the materials in your room. Do you have a cold leather couch? Is your linen throw a little too light for chilly evenings? Materials matter and choosing fluffier or more luxurious textiles can make all the difference. “Comfort is all about the senses,” Grace continues. “Pair classic and considered textures such as authentic wool and leathers with luxurious fabrics of textured bouclé and lush velvets. Combining the depth of dark velvet sofas and pale linen armchairs allows for a great opportunity to showcase your favourite textured cashmere throw. Comforting layers of mixed materiality help develop a winter interior curated with intention.” Many of the colder surfaces we enjoy in summer can be tricky to manage in winter. “It’s best to avoid too many glass or metal elements with your furniture as this won’t be so inviting when it’s cooler,” creative stylist Emma Blomfield notes. If you do have numerous cold surfaces, an easy fix is to cover them with throws or swaths of material.
Just like wearing layers of clothing, layers of fabric and furnishings can also warm a room. Chunky knit cushions or heavy faux furs are ideal for making any sofa seem incredibly inviting. Scatter throws or blankets around the various gathering spots, whether on a dining room chair, a lounge by the TV or sheltered outdoor seating. Not only is this a stylish way to showcase all your beautiful throws, it offers easy access to warm materials for incredible practicality and flexibility when the chill sets in.
“Any space — be it a bedroom, living room or alfresco — can be made cosier with some textural layering,” Jade says. “Think soft linen cushions paired with thick-weave wool throws. It’s a great chance to add some bulk to your beds and sofas, creating a cloud-like feel. “Candles and soft lighting also add warmth,” she adds. “Decor items are a really great way to change a space with the seasons while keeping your larger investment pieces in place.”
Love a rug
Working with your existing house zones is the key. If you have a tiled living area, for example, Jade recommends layering rugs to offset the cooler effect. Of course, some rugs will be warmer than others — and there are further factors to consider. Is the rug more for decoration or a high-traffic area? Is it for comfort or practicality? From shaggy, piled carpets to ropey jute pieces, there’s a wide range to choose from.
“Wools are luxurious, look fantastic and are natural insulators, perfect coming into the cooler months,” explains Annalese Hay, stylist at Flooring Xtra. “On the other hand, they tend to be more expensive, which can be limiting. Jutes and sisals work beautifully across a range of home styles. They’re tough and don’t make too much of a visual statement, which is why they’re often used in high-traffic areas.
“Synthetic materials such as polyester and polypropylene are popular and cost-effective fibres used frequently. They’re hard-wearing, inexpensive and durable, although those who like authenticity may prefer natural materials.”
Different rugs will also suit different house styles. Near the coast? Prestige Carpets’ Marlo Litchfield encourages sisals for a beachy, easy feeling. Meanwhile, “chunky wool rugs are inviting and cosy, while plush-pile carpets make an elegant option”.
If there’s a decision to be made between a small or large rug, Annalese leans towards bigger to avoid the “lost, floating rug” look. “Consider your rug as an anchor for the furniture,” she explains. “Place at the end of the bed if you have hard flooring there, with the end of the bed on top of the rug. In living spaces, try to place furniture on the edges, such as the two front sofa legs and the coffee table. Hall runners and entryways tend to be the exception to the rule here, with a striking round rug in the entry being one of our favourite statements.”
Windows of opportunity
The key to maintaining a cosy home is to keep a consistent temperature inside. Draughts and cold air from windows are common contributors to a chilly interior. If your beautiful floor-to ceiling windows aren’t double-glazed, or it’s very cold outside, they can quickly become barriers in your quest for cosiness. Thankfully, there are many great window furnishing options available and, while most experts agree that curtains are the best choice for winter, new blind designs are improving their thermal capacities all the time.
“It’s all in the curtain’s weave,” says Alice Orozco, founder of DrapeCo. “Any fabric with a tightly woven and heavy yarn will act as a soft barrier against cold air penetrating through, the finest example being velvet. However, the best method I’ve found is curtain interlining — a soft layer of fabric that sits between the face fabric and lining of your curtains and helps to insulate your room. The next step is then boxing your curtains by adding ‘returns’, which is basically folding the curtain on the sides so it meets the wall and covers the gap between the rod and the wall.
Installing your curtains higher than the architrave and selecting pelmets or rods with cover plates will also protect you from cold draughts.” If your head is telling you curtains but your heart is set on blinds, there are still options. Besides having both, thicker or more textured blinds are a way to provide warmth. With advancing technology, some cellular blinds boast extraordinary insulation properties. Cellular blinds contribute to a difference in room temperature of about 75 per cent when compared to peak outdoor ambient temperatures, according to Penelope Mitchell, co-owner of Marlow and Finch. “Ultra-insulating cellular blind fabrics with metallic internal coatings help retain indoor heat during the chilly season,” she explains. “Similarly, honeycomb blinds trap air inside each cell and create an air pocket between the blind and the window for a consistent room temperature year round.”
Think of your home as an onion. Add layers through rugs, throws and curtains that complement each other and offer a variance of texture and depth. Create a wintry mood with a fireplace, candlelight or dimmed lighting. And above all, remember that cosiness is simply feeling happy and comfortable in the cold, so surround yourself with your favourite items, bend the rules and choose the things that feel as good as they look. Happy winter!
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