The interiors ingredients you need for a cosy living room
Nine expert tips to create a snug haven
A 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.
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. 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 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, invest in some scented candles – they’re such an effective way to get into a snuggly state of mind.
2. Create a gallery wall
Putting a deep colour or bold print on 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.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on original paintings – 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 reduce echo in a large room.
If you have an open-plan living room with dining and seating areas, rugs can help to define and zone those spaces. Do as interior designers do and go for a large size to anchor your furniture and pull a colour scheme together.
4. Set the tone
Being cosy involves all of the senses and sound shouldn’t be overlooked. Hearing a favourite song or piece of music can 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).
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 do
Resist the temptation to stick the overhead light on and instead use table lamps with shades to diffuse the light and improve 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.
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 Netflix binge 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
Artfully arranging your best coffee table books and displaying meaningful items will add colour and character to a minimalist living room.
Adding shelves might not be the first thing that springs to mind when considering a snug space, but you can add them along empty walls and in fireplace alcoves to display houseplants, ornaments, travel mementos, candlesticks, framed photos and 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 an underrated and impactful way to quickly change 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.
As a simple way to restyle a room and pull a scheme together, cushions also help to soften the angles of a sofa, making it look less formal and more irresistibly squishy. Choose tactile cushions in sheepskin and 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 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.
Lastly, no one wants to discover that the reading lamp is six feet away or have to traverse a room to put down their wine glass, so allow space in your living room for side tables and a coffee table or upholstered footstool.