It goes without saying that we are all craving comfort in our homes right now. Winter naturally forces us to retreat, even without the latest lockdown. Now, in a normal winter, we could use this time to slow down and relax but that’s very difficult if you are balancing homeschooling, work or general feelings of worry. Making your home feel more cosy and warm is even more important than ever when you are searching for small moments of calm.
I’ve been thinking about tips I might be able to give you not only for the next couple of months but longer-term too. So you can continue to enjoy your home even once the pandemic passes.
LAYER NATURAL MATERIALS
Soft furnishings and fabrics often make a room and the tactile feeling of soft textiles can instantly soothe. When selecting textiles choose natural fibres. Synthetic or shiny materials don’t really evoke the same sense of comfort as natural materials. Cotton, linens and wools are natural choices and feel soft to the touch. I combine different textures to make a scheme feel welcoming, particularly in a one colour scheme. Also introduce other textures that are inspired from outside, such as rustic woods.
THINK ABOUT WHAT’S UNDERFOOT
I think flooring is absolutely key in a nurturing space. How a textile feels with bare feet is so important to make you feel grounded, particularly in bedrooms when you wake up in the morning.
I tend to choose wool and there are also some amazingly soft wool products that feel so comforting. I tend to avoid sisal in areas you walk with bare feet. I love the look of sisal but it is not at all cosy and feels very scratchy. I almost always recommend wool rugs over any other option. Not only do they feel soft underfoot but another advantage is that they are the easiest carpets to clean.
Finally, if you are considering changing the floor to stone I would always recommend underfloor heating. To me, that’s essential in an old house and will not only feel warm underfoot but be much more efficient to heat. Of course, that’s not always possible with old houses so layer up with rugs instead.
WARM LIGHTING IS A KEY INGREDIENT
Good lighting is essential to create an atmosphere of warmth and cosiness. Downlights can quickly kill the atmosphere in a room. Of course, they are important for rooms such as kitchens but in other rooms invest in some table lamps as a short term fix. Make sure you buy bulbs with a warm light. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it can make, along with the lampshade you choose. I have just swapped out some rather shades to a patterned linen. I love the glow they create which is so much warmer than white card shades.
In the longer term think about how you layer your lighting. Take a layered approach where you have three main types of lighting on different circuits (on dimmers). General lighting is the first and the least atmospheric type of lighting, particularly when you have a grid of LED lights in the ceiling! The second is task lighting which is for tasks such as reading. The third is decorative lighting, which is the main way to add atmosphere as well as decorative interest. So choose wall lights, ceiling lights and table lamps to add a sense of atmosphere in a room.
CONNECT TO COLOUR
Even before the coronavirus that was a shift in the way we were starting to use colour in our home. Colours that create a sense of nostalgia create a sense of wellbeing, as do colours connected to nature. Colour is so closely tied to emotion and can be incredibly nurturing when you are searching for moments of comfort. It’s amazing how many people are drawn to colours they had in their family home, without even realising. Think back to your family and what you loved. It doesn’t have to be a direct copy of anything but maybe there was a room you really loved. It could even be your childhood bedroom! For instance, I had blue wallpaper as a child and I still love blue. Blue wouldn’t normally be connected to comfort – but as it’s tied to emotion it does feel comforting. So go with your instincts with colour right now rather than down the path of “what colour should I have?”. Right now I’m drawn to green because it connects with nature.
HUNKER DOWN INTO SOFT FURNITURE
If it’s time to invest in a new sofa choose one that offers comfort as well as support. At the moment I’m finding myself more drawn to sofas that have back cushions that you can slump in to. As much as a love more formal furniture like a Chesterfield reserve these for smaller sofas, not the main one you’d like to flop on to! With the seat cushions I tend to recommend foam pads wrapped in feather. You get the support of the foam but with the softness of feather. As much as I love feather and down seat pads they require plumping every day and can loose their shape quite easily, unless the feathers are sat in pockets. And those sofas tend to come with a heftier price tag!
Finally, pile on cushions and soft throws. For cushions, I always use plump feather pads as they are far more comfortable and never anything smaller than a 500 x 500 cushion on a sofa. Anything smaller feels scrimped and a bit flat to me! For textures think about what you like wearing right now to offer comfort and then apply this to your cushions and throws. So the feel of a soft cotton shirt or a cosy comfortable wool cardigan.
In bedrooms, soft padded eiderdowns and softer textures on curtains can feel really comforting. And I like to go large with cushions in the bedroom with 600 x 600 cushions in soft velvets. Which makes going to bed feel like more of a calming haven.
CHOOSE CURTAINS OVER BLINDS
Curtains will always add a sense of warmth and atmosphere, which can’t be replicated with blinds. I would always choose curtains where budget allows, particularly in living rooms and bedrooms. And in my opinion, they offer a greater design element. They can often be the whole basis for a room’s colour scheme if there is a pattern that connects all the colours. Right now with the return to nostalgia curtains create a sense of familiarity and calm. There is something very comforting about drawing the curtains at night and shutting out the world!
I always have my curtains lined and interlined. A beautifully soft interlining not only makes the curtains hang better but also adds another layer of insulation to keep out winter drafts.
See my latest feature in the Mail Online: The curtain call: Craving cosiness and warmth at home? It’s no surprise that drapes are making a big comeback
I hope you’ve found some of these tips useful during these challenging times. Do get in touch or explore my services if you’d like advice on making your home feel more welcoming and warm.