Designers Share The Do's and Don'ts of Designing for Comfort — "These are The Golden Rules!"

If you're designing a home where the priority is comfort, these are the dos and don'ts the designers swear by

A living room with comfortable furniture and a moody palette
(Image credit: Shade Degges, Design: Huma Sulaiman Design)

As the interest in creating splendor at home shows no signs of slowing down, it can be easy to forget that our homes are more than just visual experiences. The interiors we bring to life must do more than make great Instagram photos or reenact your favorite Pinterest boards, they must also provide comfort and function in equal measure.

The pandemic set a pendulum in swing that highlighted to us all how important our homes are in offering us respite but balancing style and substance can prove more difficult. Having discussed the topic in detail with the experts, we’ve crystallized our dos and don’ts for a stunning space that feels as good as it looks.

'When designing for comfort - my advice is to ditch the idea of perfection,' says Tiffany Leigh of Tiffany Leigh Design. 'There is no sense in having a beautiful marble countertop that you are afraid to stain as it will prevent you from living comfortably in your kitchen. Instead, embrace each mark as part of the story of the piece and allow the natural patina to enhance, rather than distract, from the design. The same thing goes for a small stain on a sofa or a scratch on a table. Live in your home fully and don't sweat the small stuff. Leigh’s advice is certainly worthwhile as we remember that homes are made for living and should mean more than the latest interior design trends.


Greg Natale dining room with rug

(Image credit: Greg Natale)

The rug is an essential ingredient that forms the foundation of your interior whilst providing color, style, and comfort.

This modern kitchen open-plan living design from Australian interior designer, Greg Natale showcases a beautiful selection of teal, rose, and soft grey hues that reference all the colors of the room. 'Anchor furniture in place with a rug and a pendant light,' says Greg. 'This is especially true when working with an open-plan design.

'Apart from providing a soft underfoot, rugs delineate between specific living spaces by framing freestanding furniture. Adding a pendant light acts as a visual anchor by becoming a designated source of light to illuminate the framed space,' explains Greg.

When designing your scheme, opt for a rug with a deep pile that will give you that extra comfort underfoot.


Owl Design Coppermaker Square project

(Image credit: Megan Taylor, Design: Owl Design)

This bold and joyful cozy living room designed by Owl Design is rich in character and comfort. Its colorful and cozy cushions offer the perfect space to sit back and relax. The studio also worked to balance the structured and contemporary frame of the sofa.

Cushions are so much more than frivolous accents, opting for the right size, filling and fabric ensures your scheme looks and feels inviting.

Owl Design cleverly utilizes a variety of shapes in their Coppermaker Square project. 'With such a diversity in body types and heights, we think deep seats and a good cushion selection means everyone can find their ideal comfort position no matter their lounging preference,' advise Sophie van Winden and Simone Gordon, founders of Owl Design.

When shopping for your own comforting cushions, factor in how they will sit on your sofa or armchair and how the two work together to create an elevated seating experience.


Studio Duggan Chelsea project with cozy spot

(Image credit: Sarah Griggs, Design: Studio Duggan)

Creating designated spaces to rest and recline ensures that you always have the space to take a break. Begin by considering the architectural footprint of your room and how it can be utilized best to ensure free flow of movement, optimum lighting, and visual balance.

This charming interior from Studio Duggan for their London townhouse project creates a comforting hideaway for its inhabitants. The leafy green that wraps around the room perfectly frames the inviting sofa and armchairs. 'This reception room is one half of a double reception room - so typical of houses of this era.

'The other side of the room accommodates lots of seating and is well suited to either family life or entertaining, while this side of the room was purposefully kept more spacious, so as not to overload the space,' says Tiffany Duggan, founder of Studio Duggan.

The front reception room is a colorful yet calm spot – equally well suited to use day or night. Teddy armchair and footstool by Dagmar is the coziest spot for a quiet read with a drink and a lovely view of the garden.

The designer hints at a key piece of advice which is breathing room – we all need it. Allowing enough space for each piece of living room furniture to be enjoyed is essential to creating a comforting rather than cluttered interior.


Studio Zung Maison Meadowmark project

(Image credit: Adrian Gaut, Architecture & Interior Design by Studio Zung)

When many of us think of spaces inspired by, our minds may be instantly drawn to flora and fauna-filled rooms, but mother nature can offer us contemporary calm too.

New York-based Studio Zung takes this exact approach. 'In our design process, I lead my team to seek inspiration from nature, fashion, landscapes - anything in the natural world.

'Nature is honest; it won't lie. By embracing nature's everchanging timeless beauty, we infuse our designs with an authenticity and tranquillity that resonates with our clients on a profound level,' says Tommy Zung, founder and principal of Studio Zung.

Their sleek modern bathroom design evokes comfort with a heavy dose of tranquility. Its rhythmic paneling highlights the beauty of the natural wood but keeps things clean and minimal. 'Our pool bath at Maison Meadowlark is a testament to this approach. Inspired by the stillness and beauty of a marble quarry in Italy, where water cascades over exquisite marble blocks, we crafted a bespoke sink that captures the essence of this visceral experience.'

By integrating elements of nature and craftsmanship, Studio Zung transformed the space into a sanctuary that embodies the rhythm of wood and the essence of Wabi Sabi.


Huma Sulaiman Shady Canyons project

(Image credit: Shade Degges, Design: Huma Sulaiman Design)

Product designers and furniture makers have studied the science behind comfort through the study of ergonomics to create pieces that fit just right but this approach can also be incredibly worthwhile for those seeking to maximize comfort at home.

Californian interior designer, Huma Sulaiman echoes this sentiment in each of her Shady Canyon projects. The enveloping modular living room sofa frames the space beautifully, its low profile encourages a laid-back elegance all while offering cushioned support.

'Comfort is not necessarily universal. You must consider each client and project individually, their style, what they plan to do in the space, and who will use it, even a person’s body type needs to be considered when looking for sofas and chairs,' says Huma Sulaiman.

'Someone may consider a piece that is firmer to be more comfortable as they need the support while sitting. That is why it is always a good idea to have clients test out options to determine their level of comfort.' As the designer shares, it's key to try before you buy to make sure you get the look and feel of a furniture piece just right.


Studio Zung Maison Crosby project

(Image credit: Adrian Gaut, Architecture & Interior Design by Studio Zung)

While it can be tempting to recreate your favorite cozy interiors from Instagram, it’s also important to remember that rooms are made for living in.

The most comforting interior is the one that suits your needs best. Studio Zung’s Maison Crosby presents a striking space for entertaining and the everyday that is built for its clients.

'The renovation centered around a family who entertains large groups often and two active boys approaching their teens,' reveals Tommy Zung of Studio Zung. 'This made the design interesting as there needed to be solid solitary space for the boys as well as open space for the family entertainment and daily living.'

The international designer echoes a purpose-driven approach that makes your home feel calm and balanced. 'Designing with mindfulness entails honoring the client's way of living, while also designing to deepen their experiences and integrating it into every aspect of the space,' says Tommy. It's not just about aesthetics; it's about crafting environments that are both visually stunning and practically functional, aligning seamlessly with the client's daily routines.

'Sustainability and luxury naturally emanate from this fusion of lifestyle and design, culminating in spaces imbued with authenticity and purpose,' adds Zung.


Studio Iro London Fields project with white vintage chairs

(Image credit: Studio Iro)

As vintage interiors become more and more popular, it’s hard to deny that an armchair or sofa from the 70s offers an inviting and imaginative interior.

Materials that speak to elevated craft and celebrated design are part of what makes vintage furniture seem comforting, but it is important to factor in the practicality of your choices.

London-based, Studio Iro married style with substance in their London Fields project. The soothing and pared-back, neutral color scheme perfectly complements the distinctive and cozy upholstery.

'When buying a design classic or vintage chair, don't go just for style. If you're going to use the chairs to sit on make sure they are comfortable as well as appealing to the eye,' says Lucy Currell, creative director at Studio Iro.

These vintage Pierre Paulin mushroom chairs are a divine example of comfort-meeting design. When introducing vintage pieces to your scheme, take Currell’s advice and try out that vintage piece in person to ensure it feels as good as it looks. It’s also always a good idea to consult the experts to understand the care instructions for your item and ensure it stands the test of time.


Honky upholstered bed frame

(Image credit: Honky)

Comfort is about more than aesthetics; it centers on a positive experience within your own home.

There is nothing more uncomfortable than clutter consuming your beautifully designed interior. This elegant interior was designed by award-winning architectural and interior design practice, Honky.

The scalloped and upholstered bedframe in this bedroom plays into the gentle romanticism of the space but also provides a soft resting spot to sit up and read at night.

Bedside tables and hidden storage solutions offer the residents an easy everyday experience and keep the space looking comforting. 'Don’t forget all the areas for additional storage,' warns Honky founder, Christopher Dezille. 'Be it beds with lift-up bed bases, night tables with extra drawers, dressing tables with additional storage.'

Take a closer look at how you can maximize your bedroom storage options to keep the room feeling calming and appealing.

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Writer and design expert Faaizah Shah is the founder of The Interiors Consultancy. She has worked with designers such as Staffan Tollgard and design houses such as Sanderson to help them understand and communicate their narratives. She is known for crafting engaging stories and imaginative content, and understanding great decor from her years alongside some of the best creatives in the industry. She is also a contributor to Livingetc.