How do I make my living room cozy on a budget? 8 easy design hacks experts use to make your home feel a million bucks

Making your living room cozy on a budget is all about quick design cheats and shopping smart

A cozy living room with lighting and sumptuous seating
(Image credit: Haris Kenjar, 1stdibs. Design: Heidi Caillier)

Making your living room cozy might sound like it should involve an overhaul of your interiors, but we think it's relatively simple and can easily be done on a budget.

'Every time there is a big season change, I want to make small tweaks that emulate the difference in seasons, not big expensive changes, just small touches that turn rooms around,' says interior designer, Abigail Ahern, and the turn of seasons to autumn and winter is no different. Around this time of year, colder weather beckons us indoors, and the sitting areas in our homes have to work harder to bring a warm and relaxed ambiance. 

If you want your living room to be cozier, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to be splashing the cash on your interiors, 'it's about the little things that cozy up a living room in next to no- time,' says Abigail.

We've spoken to interior designers who love a cozy scheme to gather a few clever living room ideas to really help your living room transform into the snug space you need it to be.

How to make a living room cozy on a budget – 7 simple ideas

1. Embrace texture

A cozy living room with a muted color scheme

(Image credit: Ferm Living)

First thing's first, 'coziness is about texture, texture, texture,' says Celine Erlam of Indie & Co (opens in new tab), and it doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s not about buying the finest silks in the land, instead, you need to think carefully about layering the fabrics you already have, and mix and matching different pieces to create depth and that coveted feeling of warmth. It's about the range of materials - think velvet mixed in with boucle, linens layered with cottons. Cover your sofa in throws, says Louise Wicksteed, design director at Sims Hilditch (opens in new tab). 'Also, re-covering your scatter cushions in plaids and wools automatically makes the space feel inviting and snug – the perfect space to spend a chilly evening.'

Consider texture on the walls too like this tasteful wall hanging from Ferm Living (opens in new tab). It’s flexible to how you’re feeling, meaning you can take it off your walls at the end of cozy season, makes for a nice work of wall art, and adds that all-important texture to a living room.

Rattan wall hanging by Layered Lounge (opens in new tab)
Textured walls

Rattan wall hanging by Layered Lounge (opens in new tab)

Get the look and embrace fabric by taking it up the wall. This will add depth and texture and really soften the space, creating a real cozy space.

2. Think about how your curtains impact the room

A cozy living room with thick curtains

(Image credit: Fiona Susanto. Design: The Stylesmiths)

'Living room curtain ideas are a great way to add warmth and softness,' says Celine. This might involve ditching short curtains and going for floor length, or making the switch and going for deep-colored, sumptuous curtains. It might be as simple as getting clever with how you bunch them either side, so you really emphasize the material. Buy yourself some cheap curtain holdbacks and when opening them up at the start of the day, pull the fabric loose so you really accentuate the texture. 

It's not just curtains against windows either. Think about covering any doors or replacing or covering doors with a curtain rod and fabric between rooms. This can soften the space, reduce those harsh architectural lines and really bring coziness into your home. 

3. Use color in a clever way

A slouchy Togo sofa in a cozy room

(Image credit: Jessica Alexander. Design: Stelly Selway)

Living room color is a huge factor in creating coziness and a lick of paint is a simple way to give a dramatic new look to your room and create a feeling of depth in the space. Cozy colors for a living room are mostly dark. Think rich plums, deep greens, dark greys and blues and browns in all its varying hues. If, understandably, you don't fancy repainting your entire living room, give a piece of wooden furniture a lick of dark paint, like this dark cabinet in a cozy charcoal-colored room, designed by Stelly Selway (opens in new tab), or take the color up onto the ceiling and go monochromatic for extra sumptuousness. 

'Updating your walls with a fresh coat of paint is an impactful and cost-effective way to update your home throughout the year,' says Emma Bestley, co-founder of YesColours. 'Just remember to think of the optimum time you will be using each room and work backwards from that. If you only use certain rooms in the evening, sample colors you will predominantly see at night with artificial light. The richer they are, the more they will darken as the night draws in. Deep jewel tones of blue, terracotta, green and teal are ideal for a cozy, intimate space at night.'

Down Pipe by Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab)
Cozy colors

Down Pipe by Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab)

Farrow & Ball's Down Pipe is a beautiful dark grey inspired by the color of lead, with blue undertones to keep the shade interesting.

4. Create a log fire look

A cozy living room with log fire

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki. Design: Indie & Co)

'I love autumn and winter. It's the perfect excuse to get cozy, light the fire and hunker down,' says Abigail Ahern (opens in new tab). Whether you have an active fireplace with a log fire, an unused space in the chimney breast, or just a cozy alcove in need of some TLC, fill the space with logs, candles, pine cones and lanterns for a rustic living room look. It brings a feel of the outdoors in and alludes to the warmth so synonymous with a roaring fire at this time of the year. 

5. Rearrange your lighting

A cozy living room with three different light sources

(Image credit: Haris Kenjar. Design: Heidi Caillier)

Lighting is so crucial to coziness. It can really make or break whether a room is warm and cozy. Where harsh, bright recessed lights can really jar, the right lighting can work wonders to transform your space, and this time of the year, we want our task and accent lighting to do the hard work. It’s all about layering lighting to get that cocooning ambiance, and it can so easily be done on the cheap.

If all you have to work with is overhead ceiling lights, get rid of a white bulb and go for a yellowy, gold light that is softer, or get a lampshade that will dispel the light and reduce any harsh glare. Switching ceiling lights to being controlled by a dimmer switch is another quick and easy game changer. You can then control the light levels as you please. 

'I do like to embrace the darker eves and smatter a few more lamps to add some extra pockets of glow around,' says Abigail. Dig out those lamps, mix and match them around your home and take a lamp from one room and give it a new lease of life in another - you'll be amazed at the transformation through a simple rearrangement.

'LED lighting ideas and lamps are also perfect to plop anywhere and everywhere with no plug socket required too,' says Abigail, and they are relatively inexpensive and an energy-efficient living room lighting idea

Wood tripod floor lamp from Amazon (opens in new tab)
Light up the room

Wood tripod floor lamp from Amazon (opens in new tab)

A tall, budget-friendly floor lamp with a tripod-style base, perfect for a reading nook that needs a bit of light.

6. Add softness by layering rugs

layered rugs in a terracotta living room

(Image credit: Future)

Rugs provide real coziness to a room and are a key pillar in creating a snug retreat. Instead of floating a rug in the center of a living room under your coffee table like an island in a hard flooring sea, one popular living room rug idea is to overlap multiple rugs - maybe taken from other rooms where they might not be used - to cover the hard flooring and bring that texture and depth that is so crucial to a cozy scheme. Keep your shapes and sizes varied for the best results, and different patterns will keep things interesting and luxurious. 

7. Bring the garden indoors

Bring in botanicals from the garden for a cozy feel

(Image credit: Abigail Ahern)

Bringing the outdoors in is a cheap trick and a great way to embrace the colder weather, but we don't mean spring-like floral displays or Christmas garlands of holly and ivy. Instead, for Abigail, is about donning your wellies and exploring what's going on in the garden this time of year. 'Upping the botanicals is the perfect way to reflect the beautiful autumnal landscape outside. Think mossy branches, seed heads, textural grasses. This adds a soft, natural vibe to the room, making your space feel all the more cocooning', she says. 

Display grassy foliage in vases, while a mossy piece of bark might make a nice addition to a mantelpiece, nestled among candles for a cozy boho living room aesthetic.

Black, beige, green and pink printed wall art from Maisons du Monde (opens in new tab)
Floral display

Black, beige, green and pink printed wall art from Maisons du Monde (opens in new tab)

Don't fancy doing some foraging around the garden? Go for the botanical look with a tasteful piece of wall art that has the look of pressed flowers embedded into fabric. 

8. Create a cozy library look

A beautifully displayed library in a cozy living room

(Image credit: Shade Degges. Design: Ashe Leandro)

Lastly, it's about working with what you already have in the home to create cozy decor. Books are always associated with feelings of calm and downtime and I for one have a whole lot of books on my bookshelves. Use books to create a curated collection on mantelpieces to give that personal feel and lure you into curling up with a good read or flicking through a chunky coffee table book. 

You can also rethink how you display them. Think about the book spine colors and how you order them. Designer Kit Kemp (opens in new tab) even suggests organizing your books by turning them the other way around, so the pages are facing out - this avoids any bright color pops from the spine ruining the calming aesthetic, and creates instead a pleasing display of neutral page-colored tones. (Although this might not be so helpful when you're actually trying to find a specific book.) This room in an Upper West Side townhouse by Ashe Leandro (opens in new tab) does just that, with books used as a decorative feature.