The interiors ingredients you need for a cosy living room

cosy living room ideas
Eleanor Cording-Booth,-Interiors Writer

Make your home feel more homely with our expert tips for creating a snug haven in your living room

When it’s already dark by mid afternoon, it’s time to light the candles, stick a crumble in the oven and hunker down on the sofa. A truly cosy home should be a retreat from the world outside – filled with your favourite smells and sounds, with colours and textures that make you feel content and relaxed. 

Elizabeth Metcalfe, Deputy Features Editor at House and Garden magazine says, ‘This winter, perhaps more than ever, we need our home to be a sanctuary, but also a place that fires our imagination and brings delight. Shelves of books, a pile of weekend papers, Marmite on toast and a pot of tea often do the trick for me. It’s also a time to hang any artwork that’s waiting in the wings and to invest in a soft throw and a stack of cushions.’

Make your sofa the best seat in town and arrange your seating in a way that encourages conversation, with flat surfaces nearby so you can put your feet up, plonk a coffee down and create cosy zones with understated lamp lighting. Think about what makes you feel happiest to look at. It might be the log burner crackling away, or it might be a homemade card on the mantlepiece. Layer your living room with the things you love to make it feel more personal, because being cosy is ultimately a state of mind.

1. Light a scented candle

Scented candles are a two-fold win for your senses. Flickering candlelight is instantly calming and creates an atmosphere of warmth – especially if you don’t have the glow of a working fireplace to bathe in. If you do nothing else to swaddle up your living room for winter, invest in some scented candles – they’re such an effective way to get into a snuggly state of mind. Go for a rich, smoky or woody fragrance with notes of leather, orange or spices. The nostalgic scent of a cosy winter’s night will smell incredible when it’s icy outside.

2. Create a gallery wall

Adding depth of colour or a bold print to your walls can have a big impact on how characterful and cosy a living room feels. You could research colour psychology (darker hues are said to make us feel more enveloped in a space) or just take a punt on the shades and patterns that you’re most drawn to. If redecorating is a step too far, simply fill the walls with artwork that you love. Art can be taken with you if you move, or changed-up throughout the year for a different look. You don’t have to spend a fortune on original paintings either – create an eclectic gallery wall of framed prints by your favourite artists, exhibition posters, vintage finds and the kids’ masterpieces from school. 

3. Soften the floor with a rug

There’s nothing like a rug for pulling a space together and making it feel homely. Wooden floors look beautiful but they can make a living room seem cold or sparsely decorated. This is where the natural texture of a jute or wool rug can really ramp up the cosy level. As well as feeling soft underfoot, it’ll absorb sound and make a large room echo less. If you have an open-plan living room that has dining and sitting areas, complementary area rugs will also help to define and zone those spaces. Do as interior designers do and go for a large size to anchor your furniture and pull your colour scheme together.

4. Set the tone

Music can make or break the mood of a room. Being cosy involves all of the senses and sound shouldn’t be overlooked. Hearing a favourite song or piece of music can instantly trigger good memories, relax you when you’re feeling tense, or – from a practical point of view – help to block out other less-relaxing noises (we’re looking at you, passing cars). Now we’re spending more time at home, it’s a great time to invest in a compact, voice-controlled speaker for your living room so you don’t even need to get up from the sofa to set the tone. Play some vintage jazz, mix a drink and pretend you’re in a New York lounge bar.

5. Use lamps like the Scandis

Cosy living rooms and the ‘big light’ are a bit like oil and water. You’re not going to feel truly snuggly on the sofa if you’re being blinded by a ceiling light as bright as the North Star. For the best mood lighting, resist the temptation to stick the overhead light on and instead, use table lamps with shades to diffuse the light and your mood. The Scandi trick is to position your lamps only in the areas of the room where you need them, to create inviting, peaceful zones for reading and relaxing. Choose warm 40W bulbs and combine floor and wall lights with your table lamps for a soft, layered look.

6. Layer up blankets and throws

For movie nights at home, name a more iconic duo than the sofa and a soft wool throw. They’ll keep you warm through a guilty pleasure rewatch of You’ve Got Mail and when they’re not being used, throws earn their keep on the aesthetic front, too. Drape your blanket over the back or arm of a sofa, the extra layers of texture will look stylish, soften the look of your furniture and add a tactile vibe. Neutral colours and natural fibres always feature in the best stylist-dressed rooms and a classic check or waffle knit can add some extra interest where it’s needed.

7. Display the things you love

Displaying meaningful items and artfully arranging your best coffee table books will add colour and character to a minimalist living room. Shelves might not be the first things that spring to mind when thinking about a snug space, but position them along empty walls and in fireplace alcoves to display houseplants, ornaments, travel mementos, candlesticks, framed photos – anything that you love. They’re the perfect way to fill a sparse living room with personality and happy memories – all conducive to a warm, contented feeling.

8. Arrange plump piles of cushions

Cushions are the oldest cosy-trick in the book and for good reason – they’re one of the most underrated and most impactful buys to quickly change the appeal of a space. Add a selection of cushions in varying sizes to your sofa or armchairs (with plump feather cushion pads) and get ready to dive in. A simple way to re-style a room and pull a design scheme together, cushions also help to visually soften the angles of a sofa, making it look less formal and more irresistibly squishy. Choose tactile textures such as sheepskin or velvet for the most luxurious feel against your skin.

9. Furniture with form and function

Accent furniture can really influence overall ambience and the way you might use a space. By investing in natural tones and materials such as wood for your side and coffee tables, you’re adding another tactile element to your living room. Organic lines and rounded shapes will also help to improve the flow of space by minimising the number of angles – this is especially true in newer homes, which can feel a bit boxy until softened with curves and texture. Lastly, no one wants to have to traverse a room to put their wine glass down or discover that the reading lamp is six feet away. Allow space in your living room for side tables and an upholstered footstool or coffee table. They’ll make your home look more considered and future you will be grateful for that mug of tea being within easy reach of your sofa den.

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