It’s often the simple things that hold the answer for how to make a home cosy and inviting over the winter months.
From switching up your cushions and adding throws to your sofa, to adjusting your lighting scheme and adding some of the season’s best scented candles with warming fall fragrances, you can create an inviting space instantly. These small seasonal changes are easy to do but incredibly transformative and impactful in making a room feel more comforting when the colder months draw in.
Cosy by definition means “giving a feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.” So unlike the more practical tricks for how to keep a house warm in winter, these styling tips from leading interior designers focus on how to make your rooms feel inviting and ambient so that you feel cosier and comforted by your surroundings.
How to make a home cosy and inviting this winter
Because feeling snug is crucial to our well-being it’s important to make our homes as cosy as possible.
From adjusting light levels to adding warming layers, experts agree that these are the easiest, most effective ways to stay snug indoors this winter. Many can also help to make a home feel more expensive, which is always an added bonus.
1. Layer your lighting scheme
Lighting is one of the most impactful elements to change the ambience in any room of your home. Adjusting the light levels will instantly welcome a more intimate and cosy atmosphere, especially in rooms where the focus is on relaxation – such as living rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms.
“Lighting should be inviting and comforting – not too bright and not too harsh,” explains Giuliano Ghidini, consumer commercial leader at lighting firm Signify. “Ambient lighting, often referred to as mood lighting, illuminates the whole room uniformly. It can offer a soft warm glow making your home cozy and inviting.”
“A cosy atmosphere is usually achieved by breaking up a space and creating smaller, more intimate, independently lit areas,” explains Jo Plant, head of design at designer lighting brand Pooky. “Rather than relying on strong overhead lights, incorporate localized lamps and accent wall lighting into your space. It’s the perfect way to introduce a layered lighting scheme into your home which can create ambient and atmospheric levels of light to suit whatever the occasion.”
Getting your lighting right is a huge kitchen trend for 2023 and Jo adds, “The more sources of light you have, the more moods you can create.”
2. Fill your home with alluring fragrance
Appeal to the senses by using home fragrance to change the atmosphere in any room. “Scent has the power to instantly transform a room, ” says Claire Logan from the boutique bath, body, and home fragrance brand, ARRAN. ” An inviting home fragrance makes for a welcoming space, whether that be with a luxury scented candle, fragrance diffuser, or for an instant pop of scent, a room spray. “
“When it comes to adding winter fragrance to our homes, there’s often a shift that mirrors the aesthetic changes outside with the floral notes of summer giving way to deeper scents with woody, spiced notes that add to the sense of cosiness.”
Claire continues, “There are certain scents that you can use around the house that are renowned for lifting the spirits. Numerous studies have proven that Ylang Ylang can improve mood thanks to its effect on the olfactory nerve, which links directly to the limbic system that monitors emotion.”
“Jasmine is well-known for its sleep-enhancing properties and soothing aromas. A Jasmine scented candle, with its relaxing, ambient flicker, evokes a soothing environment in the lounge or bedroom, thus preparing for a restful night’s sleep.”
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3. Welcome candle light
The simple act of lighting candles is another way to set the scene – just think how impactful the elements of candlelight are for the philosophy of Hygge. Pronounced ‘hoo-gah’, Hygge is the Danish approach to well-being with a key focus on simple everyday pleasures, such as candlelight, that create a sense of comfort and joy.
Flickering flames act like a hypnotic force and there’s something relaxing and enchanting about a room lit by candlelight. If you don’t want to use real candles in your home, explore our guide to the best flameless candles for a safer and more environmentally friendlier alternative.
4. Welcome extra layers
Extra layers are an obvious choice for welcoming a cosy feel to any room, especially the spaces you use for relaxation. Here you will reap the benefits of snuggling under an extra layer.
“Updating the textiles throughout the home as we transition through the seasons can be an effective way to create a relaxed, warm atmosphere,” explains Jane Murray, home buyer at Heal’s.
“In the colder months, layer up blankets and cushions, introducing luxurious fabrics like velvet, faux fur, and wool, to help create a tactile and welcoming warmth, and replace with linen and cotton covers when temperatures start to rise.”
“In the living room, build visual depth by using a variety of cushion sizes on the sofa and drape a fluffy blanket over the backrest, inviting guests to curl up on the sofa.”
Best luxury throw
Heal’s Mohair Check Throw
From £229 | Welcome warmth and comforting cosy vibes with the addition of this stunning soft Mohair throw, with its ombre-effect check pattern adding colour, pattern and texture to any room.
Best tactile cushion
John Lewis Wave Faux Fur Cushion
£40 | Add a layer of luxurious texture with this eclectic faux fur cushion that features an ‘irresistibly strokable wave texture’.
Best boucle throw
Wayfair Cosy Boucle Warm Blanket Throw
£32.99 | Boucle remains one of the most sought-after materials for home furnishings this season, making this cream throw by Catherine Lansfield a seasonal must-have.
5. Change the lightbulbs
In addition to adjusting your lighting scheme, you might want to think about switching your lightbulbs to easily change the ambience in any room.
“When you’re choosing bulbs for your lamp and wall light shades, remember colour and intensity are vital,” advises Jo. “Try using a soft warm yellow or white light, rather than a stark white, and use a dimmer to find the right intensity.”
“When choosing light levels, the first thing you want to know is how much light is needed in the space,” advises Matthew Currington, technical director, of The Lighting Superstore, “this will help you buy the right light bulbs.”
“The brightness of light bulbs is now measured in lumens,” explains Matthew, “so choosing the right bulb depends on how many lumens you need to keep the room well-lit. You can also choose the colour temperature of your light bulb. For a warm and cosy feel, go for a bulb with a warm tone such as a soft white or yellow. “
6. Layer tactile rugs underfoot
No matter the flooring, whether carpet, tiles, or wood, rugs are a great way to make your home feel instantly cosier. A simple rug can welcome texture and warmth underfoot that feels comforting for any room in the home, even kitchens and bathrooms can benefit from the presence of a warming rug.
“Rugs are ideal for the feeling of kicking your shoes off and nestling your bare feet into a soft, cushioning weave as opposed to a cold tiled or wooden floor,” says Martin Waller, founder of interiors brand Andrew Martin.
“In general, rugs with a higher stitch count will provide more warmth,” explains Jemma Dayman, carpet buyer at Carpetright. “Fluffy faux fur or rustic tartans are classic styles that will instantly make your space more homely and therefore cosy.”
“For those looking to make hard flooring more inviting, rugs are a great choice as they are a simple and effective way of adding an extra level of comfort and softening the feel of your home.”
7. Consider a warming colour palette
Interior paint colour trends for 2023 are all about adding bold, accent colours to your home and adding colour can have a huge impact on the cosiness within every room.
“Colors which evoke a sense of warmth include rich reds and oranges, golds, mustard and berry shades,” explains Debbie Leigh, design manager at Interior Textiles brand ILIV.
“Use these colours in layers of soft furnishings, such as throws, cushions, and curtains and you’ll soon find your room feeling warm and snug creating a sense of comfort which is known to boost well-being.”
“When it comes to picking a cosy colour palette, typically warmer shades will work best,” explains Anne Haimes, interior designer and founder of Anne Haimes Interiors. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t create cosiness with a cooler palette. Just be sure to include plenty of softness with your decor and incorporate natural textures to offset colder tones.”
8. Banish bare walls
In addition to choosing cosy bedroom and living room paint colours, there’s also a practical element to considering wall decor. “Nothing can make a room feel more uninviting than a spine-chilling echo, “ explains interior designer Anne.
“Echoes occur when sound bounces off of hard surfaces, so you’ll need to fill your room with plenty of soft furnishings to help absorb some of this sound. Adorning your walls with art will not only prevent echoes but will also help inject personality into your space.”
“Choosing pieces that are personal to you will make your space feel more inviting for guests and give that homey feel. Alternatively, opt for tapestries which add additional softness to traditional paintings or photographs.”
9. Create a cozy nook
Convert an unused corner of your room into a cosy nook to extend your living space and provide a dedicated area for relaxation. “To create your cosy retreat, pair an armchair with a side table and floor lamp,” suggests Marks & Spencer’s homes visual merchandiser James Rotheram.
“To cosy it up, add cushions and throws. You don’t need too many cushions to get cosy on an armchair; one large cushion will suffice. To pull in the overall balance of the room, mimic and match the colours and patterns of your sofa cushions.”
“A comfortable armchair is an often overlooked yet essential piece for any cosy living room,” claims Francesca Hadland, interiors manager for Bridgman. “Create cohesion by choosing an armchair in the same style and colour as your sofa, or opt for an accent chair to enhance your space with a striking silhouette. Don’t forget to pair it with a footstool so you can sit back and unwind in absolute comfort.”
“Add some extra details to your nook to add warmth and personality such as a hanging planter or some artwork. When it comes to styling your side tables, accessories with a vase of flowers and a scented candle.”
10. Create enclosed spaces
Make your spaces feel cosy by encouraging a more intimate feel. “While grand rooms with tall ceilings are impressive to look at, they aren’t the ideal setting for creating cosiness. Creating a space that is enclosed without feeling cramped will make the perfect set-up for autumnal snuggles,” says Anne.
“Section rooms that have a lot of space – a sectional sofa, for example, is perfect for dividing a large room. Alternatively, open bookcases and strategically placed rugs can subtly segment your space. Pendant lights can also help draw the eye downwards to reduce the height of your space. Similarly, shelving can help break up blank wall space and lower the gaze.”
11. Light the fire
If you’re lucky enough to. have a working fireplace or wood-burning stove this can go a long way to add cosiness in no time. “It is no surprise that an open fire is always considered the cosiest place in a house,” says Jo. “The lighting from the fire is localized, soft, and accented, and the colour and intensity are just right.”
“Whether a traditional fireplace with a wood burner or an electric fire, fires add immediate cosiness to your space and can be a great focal point to the room,” says Ann Marie, Founder, AMC Design.
When looking to make more of a feature of a fireplace Ann adds: “Traditional fireplaces often have beautiful engravings or mouldings so be bold and give them a new lease of life with a pop of bright colour. This will draw the eye directly to the fireplace, creating that inviting appeal.”
“Not forgetting electric fires, these can often be built into a protruding wall, so take the opportunity to make a feature of the wall. Wallpaper is a great way to do this as it adds character around the electric fire and uplifts the room with rich detailing.”
12. Dress the windows
The best way to make a room feel cosy is to dress the windows, not only for insulation but also to shut the world out to create a sense of hibernation.
Because of the element of glass within windows in winter, they can actually make a room feel colder so it becomes essential to consider the appropriate window dressings. Plus if it’s cold and dreary outside you are likely to feel an impact of that if you leave the windows exposed.
“Combine different window dressings creatively,” suggests Victoria Walker, Hillarys‘ product manager. “Hang curtains over shutters or place a voile Roman blind beneath a roller blind. Layering multiple dressings on each window not only improves insulation but also adds a stylish touch to your decor.”
“Opt for naturally thicker fabrics like velvet and boucle, especially when paired with a thermal lining. These materials excel at keeping the warmth inside and also serve as excellent barriers against noise and light, making them ideal for street-facing living rooms and bedrooms.
13. Keep the doors closed
When you’re looking to create a cosy atmosphere it can be hugely beneficial to shut yourself away. Simply shutting doors is not only great for keeping the heating localised, but it also helps to welcome a more serene and relaxing aesthetic to your surroundings – because nothing spoils the feeling of cosy nights quite like the sound of the dishwasher gargling in the kitchen beyond.
Close the doors and even consider using a draught excluder or a door curtain to halt any potential chills and add an extra buffer for soundproof insulation.