Photo: Paul Dyer
As temperatures drop and we charge full speed ahead into the holidays, it’s incumbent on us to remind you that cozy season is officially underway—and your winter sanctuary awaits! That means the flannel sheets are coming out of the linen closet and the space heater is parked somewhere near your feet. But if you want to go full-tilt into cozifying your home, we’ve come prepared with designer-approved tips on how to go about decorating and accenting your space so it’s as inviting for you and your relatives as possible during the most festive days of the year.
Stacy Becker, the principal designer at Seattle’s White Label Interiors, emphasizes that “creating cozy spaces requires designing with an interesting mix of patterns, texture, and color.” She draws the analogy of a cottage that’s been pieced together lovingly over time. “It’s not perfect, but its casualness provides comfort.”
If you’re planning a small-scale space revamp or reno and a rustic cottage or lodge is on your moodboard, follow along with these tips that we’ve collected from AD PRO Directory members.
1. Bring the heat
As Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “the hearth is the psychological center of the home.” But don't let a non-functioning (or totally absent) fireplace hold you back from finding yours—there are modern solutions that designers recommend as workarounds. “If you have the time and the perfect wall, look into installing a HearthCabinet into whatever stone surround you design or purchase,” suggests Andrew Torrey, founder and principal designer of Torrey in New York City. He likes to install these ventless fireplace inserts wherever he can for projects in New York City and Los Angeles that lack the ability to accommodate a gas or wood-burning fireplace. “Their cartridges snap and pop like a real fireplace, don’t emit any smell, and burn out after two hours. To date, I haven’t had a client not be obsessed with them.”
2. Evoke the senses
Other flickering accents work, too, especially if they can make your place smell like freshly baked cookies or an actual fir tree. “Nothing sets the tone of ‘toasty and cozy’ for me more than a scent,” Torrey exclaims. “Being from Kansas, I’m not afraid of a good old-fashioned Yankee Candle that smells like something insanely specific, like ‘Sugar Cookies in the Snow.’” His forever go-to, though, is Diptyque’s Feu de Bois candle that evokes the scent of a fresh-from-the-farm Christmas tree.
3. Layer in some texture
During the fall and winter, Sharon Falcher and Sherica Maynard of Interior Design by S&S in Atlanta love swathing their interior design projects with textured accents. Their MO is draping throws and soft textiles in living areas for cuddling. “Wool rugs and accent pillows are another great way to pump up the volume on making your space feel super cozy,” they add.
High Camp Home, a design firm located in Truckee, California, also looks to textured accents to transform its interior design projects, which often resemble rustic lodges. Its owner and lead designer, Diana Vincent, recommends leaning into fabrics like flannel, velvet, and faux fur for added warmth and comfort in the cooler months.
4. Set the mood
Another important factor in establishing a warm, intimate atmosphere is ambiance. “As the days get shorter, a home’s lighting becomes more important than ever,” says Kristi Will, the principal designer at Kristi Will Interior Design in Half Moon Bay, California. “Though your overhead lights will brighten each space, you might [want to] consider adding dimmer switches to control the lighting depending on the mood you want to create.”
For different spaces, you can also draw in a variety of complementary lights, Will says, from task lamps with adjustable necks in cozy reading nooks (see our section below) to accent lighting deployed strategically near your favorite pieces. “When used in harmony, layered lighting will breathe life into your home and create the most relaxing environment,” Will emphasizes.
5. Wrap your walls
To make a bedroom with tall ceilings feel more down-to-earth or to dress up a smaller space, consider a different kind of wrapping paper: wall-to-wall patterns that draw you in like an embrace. Take the birch tree wallpaper in this bedroom where Becker says “the vibe is all about staying in, wrapping up, and settling down.” The White Label Interiors team layered a variety of textured bedding, from flannel to velvet, that give it a homey feel. “It’s a collected look,” Becker explains, describing it as “a refined homage to a grandpa’s cabin in the mountains.”
6. Put a bough on it
Natural foliage will always be evergreen when it comes to decorating your home for winter. Beyond the traditional fir tree during the holidays, Ginger Curtis—founder and CEO of Urbanology Designs in Dallas, Texas—recommends displaying wreaths, a mini winter garden of potted evergreens, or even freshly trimmed branches arranged in a vase to “seamlessly infuse the environment with an organic, nature-inspired aesthetic.”
7. Carve out spaces for peace and quiet
Some wisdom to borrow from your household pets: There’s always something calming about curling up in a secluded nook, whether that’s to settle in for a nap or to flip through a couple chapters of your favorite book. For Samantha Struck, the principal designer and founder of StruckSured Interiors in Hood River, Oregon, winter is the “time to brew that tea you splurged on and nestle into a cozy corner of your home that’s been underutilized.” To heighten the sense of intimacy, you could always envelop your space with a dark slick of paint or install a physical partition from onlookers, like heavy velvet curtains.
8. Warm up your color palette
To combat the cool temperatures outside, Vincent suggests incorporating warm tonal accents to make your space feel homier and more inviting. “Consider earthy tones like deep reds, browns, and golden hues to create a cozy atmosphere,” she says. She suggests incorporating pops of color through chairs, accent pillows, and occasional fixtures (such as the fireplace seen here) to add visual interest and draw you into the room.
9. Get woodsy
Mixing wood elements into your home is another way to capture a certain rustic vibe in the winter. Jennifer Robin, the founder and owner of Jennifer Robin Interiors in San Anselmo, California, explains that wood is such an important foundational element of a home that she’ll usually start with those components and build around them. “Using reclaimed wood wraps you in warmth, maximizes texture, and is a very grounding element, especially when you have a high-volume space,” she insists. Robin also notes that mixing in complementary woods such as a wire-brushed cedar or Douglas fir on the ceiling will create contrast that highlights each individual wood. “It’s a constant balancing act in order to avoid overdoing it with any one design element.”
Looking to hire an architect, interior designer, or landscape professional to help you build the perfect winter sanctuary? Visit the AD PRO Directory to find an AD-approved expert for your project
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest
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