THE ART OF COZY // Styling tips for creating an indoor oasis
Updated: Oct 5
Winter can be a blah, dull, somewhat depressing time. Embracing the darkness and zhuzhing your home to feel cozier can actually help create a sense of contentment and well-being that will pull you through these colder months.
Danish and Norwegian cultures already have a word for this feeling of cozy. Hygge, pronounced HUE-GAH, is difficult to translate exactly, but roughly speaking it means a quality of coziness and comfort that engenders a feeling of contentment and well-being.
Perhaps due, in part, to our cave-dwelling ancestors, It’s scientifically proven that warm and cozy spaces make us feel protected and at ease. And, lucky for us, we don’t have to live in a cave to experience that sense of well-being! In today’s post, I’ll give you 9, easy (and even free) ways to create your own cozy, indoor oasis.
1 / CREATE A NOOK
Creating a little place to cozy up in your home is a great way to while away the winter. One simple way to do this is to cover your chairs and benches (not just the living room) in furs, blankets, and pillows. Add a favorite book / magazine and a candle, and poof! The dining bench just became a wonderful spot to take in the afternoon sun.
I love doing this in my own home. Once the temperature drops, I immediately put a furry lambswool on all the stools in my kitchen. It instantly warms up the space and is a much better way to wake up than sitting on a freezing piece of wood while you wait for the coffee to brew.
Another thing I always recommend to my clients is to pull your furniture away from the walls, and cluster it closer together. This not only creates inviting "zones" within your space, perfect for gathering with friends and family, but it also inherently creates some empty space to make a little nook!
Pulling a chair, or an entire grouping of furniture, closer to a window or fireplace is another great way to create cozy areas within your home. Watch the snow fall outside, curl up by the fire, or bask in the afternoon sun for a little relax and recharge.
2 / LIGHT YOUR FIRE
Of course a roaring fire is the epitome of warm and cozy. If you're lucky enough to have one in your space, light it up and hunker down for the evening. But if you don't have one, never fear! There are a few other ways to bring that same feeling into your space.
Lighting lots of candles and peppering them around your house is a great way to get that fireside feeling throughout your home. And I do mean all throughout your home - don't forget to show the hallway and entryway some candle love, too! Extra bonus points if your candles smell like wood or a campfire. Just pay close attention to the types of candles you are burning and make sure they are all natural. You don't want to fill your house with harmful chemicals!
If candles aren't your thing, fill glass vessels and lanterns with fairy lights and sprinkle around your home for a similar effect.
Another reason the firelight is so cozy is because it creates a dim and moody atmosphere. In the day and age of recessed lighting, I often find that people don't have enough lighting variants in a single space. You should have high, medium, and low layers of lighting, (think overhead, floor lamp, and table lamp) to really be able to set the mood. Also, make sure your lighting isn't all around the perimeter of the room, but clustered near the areas where people will be congregating.
3/ BRING THE OUTDOORS IN
Fostering a connection with nature can really lift our spirits, and I find that bringing it into the house as much as possible creates a cheery, warm atmosphere. One obvious way to bring the outdoors in is with houseplants. Houseplants not only add life and texture to a space, but they also help purify the air (from all those candles you're burning!). If it has it's original plastic pot, try to find something beautiful to put it in, like a basket or cloth bag tied at the top. You can even wrap the pot in birch bark or white paper. And just like the candles, don't forget to put plants a little bit of everywhere.
One of my personal favorites ways to bring the outdoors is, is to scatter clippings and branches in pretty vessels around the house. They don't need to be fancy, or even store bought. I LOVE venturing out into the woods and grabbing a handful of this and that to decorate my home. Just try to keep like items with like, so it doesn't end up looking too messy.
Images of the outdoors, whether of a place that brings you joy or just a place you think is pretty, are also excellent for bringing the outside in.
4 / WOOD IS GOOD (and so are natural objects)
Wooden furniture, wooden floors, and even rough stacks of wood all help warm up a home and make it feel cozy. Perhaps it's because they invoke that subtle sense of a log cabin, or because a stack of wood makes you think a campfire is eminent. Whatever the reason, wooden (and natural) objects make great, cozy additions to your living space.
Rocks, crystals, gems. Driftwood, deer antlers, and cow hides. Natural objects bring warmth and interest into a home and make great decorative objects to anchor a stack of books. In addition to natural objects, you can also fill your home with natural materials. Think organic cottons, linens, and canvases.
5 / STYLE WITH BOOKS (and special magazines)
Books are a wonderful styling tool. A big stack of them can add height to consoles or coffee tables, and visual interest to shelves. And, since many of them have beautiful, ornate covers, why not display them forward facing, like pretty works of art? It feels inviting to see a collection of books near a sitting area, as if calling you to come in, take a load off, and stay a while.
And what is a "special magazine", you ask? Well, have you ever been waiting in line at the grocery store, eyeballing that $15 copy of 'Some Interior Design" magazine, trying to justify the purchase? Well that's what I call a "special magazine" - a splurge that I save as a treat for a rainy/snowy day. I place it in a prominent place, like on a coffee table or in a basket next to a reading nook, and get excited in anticipation of the afternoon when I get to sit down and read it.
Ultimately, collections of books and magazines throughout a space can really contribute to a cozy, welcoming atmosphere. They can also add great pops of color and texture.
6 / INCLUDE HANDMADE ITEMS
I am always a big fan of handmade items and include them in all the spaces I design. Since handmade items came from someone's imagination and were then created by their hands, they add this wonderful softness to an environment. They are also beautifully imperfect, which makes a space feel more approachable and relaxed.
Handmade ceramics aren't just for the kitchen! Sure, some tea (OK, a Hot Toddy) in a large, handmade mug is a wonderful way to relax, but a gorgeous handmade bowl in the middle of the coffee table can make quite a statement. Find things that you gravitate towards and get creative with how to incorporate them into your home.
Handmade / hand carved furniture is another one of my favorite ways to really warm up a space and add visual interest. They can morph into almost any kind of style and look great paired with items that are more formal, like a velvet sofa.
Pillows, and throws are also wonderful ways to add handmade items to your home, but you don't have to use Aunt Edna's crocheted blanket if it doesn't work with your space. Look to sites like Etsy to find those handmade goodies that fit your style.
7/ SOMETHING OLD WITH THE NEW
I love incorporating vintage and antique items into a space. Old items come with a history and patina that just adds so much warmth and energy. The juxtaposition of modern + manufactured objects with the old creates a ton of visual interest and depth, and invites you to come in and explore the environment.
8 / LOAD UP ON TEXTURES
Textures add a ton of warmth to a space and can keep a monochromatic room from looking flat. They also provide a tactile experience, which amps up the cozy. A chunky knit throw should be on everyone's sofa in the wintertime!
Some other ways to add in textures are with fringe, fur, and tassels. From rugs to pillows, there are tons of options out there to fit your style and your budget. Personally, I am a big fan of sheepskins, and stock up at Ikea whenever I'm there.
Baskets are a no-brainer when it comes to texture. They are great for corralling clutter, hanging on the walls, and filling with blankets and pillows. They can also add some lighter tones into your space if you feel like it is getting too dark.
9 / BLANKETS AND PILLOWS IN EXCESS
I don't know about you, but making a little nest for myself in a pile of blankets and pillows feels SUPER cozy, especially on a cold winter's night. Scatter blankets all over the place - even entry benches and dining chairs - to foster the idea that you feel cozy no matter what room you're in.
How is your space? Is it all cozy and inviting and ready for winter? Well if it isn't, I hope you feel inspired to try some of these winter-blues-fighting design ideas for yourself! Your home should be your sanctuary. Your safe haven. Your cozy cave. So embrace the darkness, Amazon Prime those candles, and relax, recharge, and redecorate!