5 Design Mistakes That Are Making Your Home Feel Colder – And What Experts Do Instead

From flooring, paints, lighting, window treatments to fabrics, 'these decor elements might be stopping your home from feeling cozy,' say top experts

A living room with white walls and a soft pink sofa
(Image credit: Jon Day/ Future)

For a home that always feels inviting and snug, simply turning up the thermostat might not always work. Sure, you'll temporarily feel warm but the feeling of coziness truly comes from the decor choices you make. While your wall paints, flooring, fabrics, and window treatments may look elegant, are they truly serving the purpose of warming up your home?

We asked experts to tell us about the most common design mistakes people make while doing up their spaces. Take a look at these living room elements that may be holding your space back from feeling cozy.

1. Choosing sheer curtains

A living room with large windows and long sheer curtains

(Image credit: Jake Curtis/ Future)

Bedroom or living room curtains are essential to the look and feel of the space, but choosing the right material is of utmost importance. In regions that are mostly warm, cotton, linen, or sheer drapes can work wonders as they allow cool air to filter into the room, making it feel more comfortable. The opposite is true for cold regions.

'I love sheer window panels for privacy and softening a space, but they are a poor choice for insulating drafty windows,' says Bethany Adams, founder of Bethany Adams Interiors. 'Instead opt for thicker materials like velvet, and ideally, if you can afford custom drapery add a thermal lining to them.'

Generally, thermal curtains are a great choice to insulate your home without breaking the bank, as these are much more cost-effective than double or triple glazing. Polyester is a sturdy material that will limit air movement, and is easy to maintain and doesn’t fade easily.

2. Opting for silk sofas

A living room with blue sofas and sage green walls

(Image credit: James Merrell/ Future)

Choosing the right living room sofa material is essential to staying cozy and warm during the colder months.

'Silk or polyester – anything smooth and shiny, will be cool to touch,' says Bethany. 'Instead look for fabrics with a lot of texture like velvet, mohair, boucle, or tweed to give you warmth visually and physically.'

These apart, chenille is a plush and cozy material, perfect for snuggling up on the couch. Microfiber, on the other hand, is designed to mimic the look and feel of suede or leather and is ideal for cold temperatures because it is warm and easy to clean.

3. Designing the flooring with tile or stone

A dining room with stone flooring

(Image credit: James Merrell/ Future)

Of course, this is not a small decor change but for those who are currently building or renovating their homes, and live in cold regions, should take note.

'If you don’t plan it well, certain types of living room flooring can take away the warmth associated with homes and make it difficult to put your feet down,' says Saba Kapoor, co-founder of Nivasa. 'Tile, stone, laminate, and certain types of hardwood floors can feel cold underfoot because they conduct temperature quite effectively and don't retain heat well.'

'The best way to manage this of course is to go for heating within the flooring,' says Saba. 'This way the material of the floor won’t matter. But if you can't change the flooring of your home, you can always go for wall-to-wall carpeting or rugs to retain warmth. These provide insulation and a soft, cozy feeling underfoot.'

If you do want to change up the floor tiles then consider cork flooring. 'This kind of flooring has natural insulating properties and tends to feel warmer than many other hard surfaces,' says Saba. 'There’s also luxury vinyl flooring that has thicker layers that offer better insulation and a warmer feel. Compared to solid hardwood, engineered wood tends to have better insulation properties.'

4. Painting the walls stark white

A crisp white room with one black chair

(Image credit: Simon Bevan/Future)

Most people prefer neutrals and consider the best white paint for walls.But choosing a stark white, or a cool white with blue-grey undertones can make a room feel clinical and harsh. That's because this color does not retain heat or light, and makes a room feel brighter but also colder.

'But if you're still set on white, then consider a white with warm to neutral undertones like Benjamin Moore's White Dove or Swiss Coffee, both of which have more creamy, yellowy undertones,' says Bethany.

White apart though, if you want to cozy up a small room and give it a more cocooning vibe, a darker, deeper tone will not only imbue the space with personality but also warmth. Think of tones such as dark grey, blue, teal, or burgundy.

5. Choosing white lights

A dining room with an overhead white light

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki/ Future)

White lights will illuminate your interior but will also make it feel cold; like being inside a doctor's clinic. Warm yellow lights on the other hand can create an inviting, intimate and cozy atmosphere which can help you wind down. These also imbue a moody atmosphere. A great way to create a cozy living room lighting design is by layering warmer lights (say pendants, lamps and sconces) that can help transition the day into the evening.

'Since the warm light makes one feel more relaxed and comfortable in the environment, it is a preferred choice in lighting up the living rooms or bathrooms as compared to cool lights,' says Shivam Dewan, founder of Rosha.

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Design Editor

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is the Design Editor at Livingetc. She is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.