I Asked Designers How to Add Warmth to a Room — Here's What's Now In My Cart For A More Welcoming Home

This advice for how to add warmth to a room is easy to follow but makes a big difference — and is hugely elevating my refurb project

living room with blue sofa
Starting with a large rug and layering tones of blue and brown is a way designers are adding warmth
(Image credit: Future)

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I'm at the point in a three year long renovation that I'm looking at how to add warmth to a room. I've done the rewiring, added in a new heating system, and chosen most of the paint colors. But I know that it's the smaller touches that make a big difference, the layering of textiles and decor that soften a space and make it more welcoming, friendlier, more warm.

And I'll be starting from the ground up, choosing from the best rugs so as to have a warming base layer. 'Rugs are a great way to add texture and warmth to a space, especially when the room is more neutral in colour,' says the designer Montana Labelle. 'Similar to wall art, the floor is an important element to consider as it grounds the room and really bring everything together.'

The designer Tiffany Leigh agrees that rugs are the perfect place to start. 'We often use the rug as the jumping off point for the palette of the room, selecting accent pillows and accessories that pick up a tone in the rug,' she says. 

How to build a warming palette

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Brown wallpapered living room with yellow velvet sofa

(Image credit: Philip Durrant. Design by StudioMorey)

For warmth, Tiffany suggests that you don't need to go for overtly fiery colors like red or orange, and there is a more subtle approach available. 'We tend to lean into more muted, muddy tones with neutrals, browns and smokey blues or greens,' she says.  'And lean towards vintage or a vintage look in most spaces.'

The British designer Russell Sage once gave me the best advice that I think about often, and have used in this renovation. 'If a color is to feel like home then it should have a touch of the earth to it," he said. 'So instead of going with, say, a banana yellow, opt for one with a hint of brown in it.'

And in fact, to achieve an earthy and warm color scheme, it seems brighter isn't better. Step away from the sunshine yellow you might think was a shorthand for warmth. 'I’m drawn to cognac leather tones,' Russell said. 'These are palettes that look good in any light. Essentially, you don't want anything so bright it smacks you between the eyes when you're trying to relax.'

What's in my Cart to add warmth to my rooms

Starting with rugs, as the Montana suggested, here's what I'm pulling from the best home decor stores to make my home feel softer, more welcoming and, yes, more warm.

Pip Rich

The editor of Livingetc, Pip Rich (formerly Pip McCormac) is a lifestyle journalist of almost 20 years experience working for some of the UK's biggest titles. As well as holding staff positions at Sunday Times Style, Red and Grazia he has written for the Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times and ES Magazine. The host of Livingetc's podcast Home Truths, Pip has also published three books - his most recent, A New Leaf, was released in December 2021 and is about the homes of architects who have filled their spaces with houseplants.  He has recently moved out of London - and a home that ELLE Decoration called one of the ten best small spaces in the world - to start a new renovation project in Somerset.