By Hebe Hatton
With their wood paneling, warm colors, log burners, exposed beams, brickwork, chunky rugs, and squishy seating, we could lust over cozy living room ideas all year round. Plus, there are so many simple switches you can make to up the coziness of your living room without having to totally redecorate – a sheepskin rug here, a throw pillow there.
And while cozy living rooms do have a reputation for being all about tartan prints, antlers hanging from every wall, a huge open fire crackling continuously, cozy has many other more... subtle faces and can be blended into any style of living room, even super minimalist, modern spaces.
1. Layer up the textures
Get ready to hear this word a lot – texture is what makes a cozy living room. It's also a really simple way to update your living room, just switch out your cushions, throw down a rug (or two) and bring in some throws in tactile fabrics to create lovely soft layers. Natural materials like wood and rattan work perfectly in cozy living rooms too, adding even more textures and creating a relaxed, laid-back feel.
'When I want to create a cozy room it's all about texture and lighting. Add in soft and textured throws, layer on a sheepskin rug, and maybe even switch out your pillows for plushier ones.' advises Emily Henderson. 'You want the space to feel layered Then for lighting, a fireplace is of course ideal, but making sure you have 'warm light' bulbs with dimmers will also help you to create and control your level of coziness.'
2. Go for a simple Scandi style
As we mentioned, you can take a more minimalist approach to cozy living rooms. You'll often find that Scandi-inspired spaces are both simple, stylish and cozy, mixing clean lines and simple shapes with touches of texture and natural materials.
A light and airy color scheme gives a cozy living room all year round appeal too, pale greys, whites, and creams keep this room feeling fresh and not too wintery. Come the cooler months, you can always add in more cushions in deep hues and pile up the throws for a quick seasonal change.
3. Create a cocooning space with darker shades
Working with a small living room? We are often so obsessed with trying to make a small space feel lighter and brighter, when in fact sometimes the best option is to lean into those smaller proportions and choose a darker color palette instead. Not only will this create cozy, cocooning space but can blur the boundaries of the room, especially if you go all over with a dark shade – ceiling including.
'It’s a misnomer that dark colors make a room feel gloomy and smaller.' says Anna Burles, Creative Director of Run For The Hills. 'They can do the complete opposite, making a room feel ultra-cozy, soft and expansive, by creating light and shade with the natural light coming into the space and the textures and tones of the furniture you pair with the wall, floor or ceiling color.'
'We love to contrast dramatic dark walls or floors with light and highly textured furniture and textiles, rugs and curtains, making the light elements really bounce and pop from the dramatically dark backdrop.'
4. Add softness with relaxed shapes
Slubby materials and relaxed, low-slung furniture with soft lines give a living room a very laid-back feel that's perfect for creating cozy spaces. See how in this living room, the sofa has a very lived-in look and all the soft layers of linen add that all-important texture. The color palette of this neutral living room is something to note too, rather than choose clean, crisp neutrals like white and grey, opting for softer beige tones can create a more cozy, inviting space.
5. Get your living room lighting spot on
'When it comes to creating a cozy space, lighting your home is important. Setting the mood rests entirely on the lighting you choose.' says Matthew Williamson. 'Forget about using one main lighting source in favor of illuminating a few lamps around the room for a more interesting, cozy lighting scheme. This way, you can be more flexible with what you intend to light. For example, a reading corner would benefit from an elegant swan-neck wall light, while a piece of art would look spectacular on the wall between two table lamps on a credenza or sideboard.'
6. Bring in cooler tones
Cozy living rooms are often associated with warmer, neutral tones, but as this space proves you can bring cozy into any color palette. Here grey-toned blues give a fresh, modern feel while still keeping with the cozy aesthetic. Combined with plenty of wooden textures and soft layers, this blue living room feels both contemporary and cozy. Note the wallpaper too – don't shy away from adding pattern which can make larger living rooms instantly feel more intimate.
7. Take a minimalist approach to cozy
Because all it takes is a roaring fire, a pile of logs and a soft rug underfoot to make a living room feel cozy. Be inspired by this minimalist approach and make a fireplace a focal point, adding a mismatch of modern furniture creates a very stylish contrast and of course bringing in a bean bag is always going to up the coziness.
8. Make it soft underfoot
The more softness going on when creating a cozy living room the better, so keep things soft underfoot too with a soft, long pile area rug or carpet.
'While wooden floors have been center stage in many homes in the recent past, we have seen a dramatic rise in sales in the last few years, and in particular sales of carpets.' explains Jodie Hatton, a Residential Designer at Brintons. 'Fitted carpets are back, and back with gusto. We’ve seen an increase in desire for cozy, warming patterns too like tartans and stripes.'
9. Add texture with exposed brick
Exposed brick is synonymous with modern rustic living rooms, adding texture and interest to any style of space. We love how in this living room, the brick of the inglenook fireplace contrasts the brilliant white walls and minimalist furniture, adding just the right amount of rustic to make the room feel cozy.
10. Fill (but don't overcrowd) the room
Cozy living rooms should have that cocooning feel, with soft squishy furniture and furnishings everywhere you turn. So choose pieces that are going to fill the space nicely, without overcrowding it, to create that intimacy. Sectional sofas that hug the walls or ottomans that break up a sea of empty floor space will have that instant cocooning effect. Just be sure not to cram in too much furniture, you still want each piece to have some room to breathe.
11. Add a stove to up the coziness
A crackling fire adds an instant cozy ambiance to a living room, plus you get that lovely soft glow and smell that adds to the welcoming atmosphere. If you have a more modern living room, or are squeezed for space, a compact wood burner can easily be installed and won't take up lots of room. And in a period property, restoring the fireplaces will add a lovely focal point.
'Adding period features to your home is an effective way to create a cozy living space for the family to enjoy.' says Owen Pacey, founder of Renaissance London. 'By restoring the original plasterwork such as the cornice or ceiling roses in period homes, you can add a traditional dimension to your home which is undeniably cozy. Adding a period or period-style fireplace can give the room an anchoring focal point, around which you can gather the furniture to create an alternative to a TV-centric room. This encourages conversation, creativity and peacefulness, which contributes to the cozy value!'
12. Be on trend with boucle
'A quick way to create a cosy atmosphere which remains elegant is by adding in a boucle fabric. The rich, loop-like texture is ideal for creating a warm, relaxed space, and has long been part of our upholstery offering, selling particularly well on contemporary shapes to soften a modern scheme.' says Laura Hadad, Design Ambassador at Arteriors.
'As well as the choice of material and fabrics making a difference to the coziness of a room, the furniture you select, and the overarching design of the space can lend itself to be more comfortable. A subtle curve in the right place on a chair, sofa or stool creates an inviting place to take a step away from the day – we know the effects that beautifully soft curves and arcs bring to the senses when creating a welcoming and homely feel to your interiors.'
13. Panel the walls
It doesn't get cozier than wooden paneling. Adding warmth and of course texture, it's a sure-fire way to give your living room those rustic cabin vibes. White shiplap walls seem to be the way to do paneling at the moment but if you want to give more depth to your room, keep the wood bare and contrast it with crisp white walls and ceilings for a contemporary edge.
14. Make a feature of log piles
The easiest cozy living room idea out there, pile up the logs. Not only it is practical for making the logs easy to access, but you can also turn them into a real feature of the room. A tall recessed shelf is piled high with logs in this living room, creating an interesting focal point as well as adding yet more texture.
How can you make a living room feel cozy?
The easiest way to make a living room feel cozy, without having to make too many big changes is switching out soft furnishings, changing lighting and of course adding in plenty of texture. Even something as simple as rearranging your living room layout can make a living room feel cozier. Try moving your sofas away from the walls and have them face each other rather than the obvious choice of the TV. Place a large coffee table or ottoman in between and use a rug to ground the furniture and you'll see it instantly feels more intimate.
A really quick tip for making a living room feel cozy is to ensure you have a large area rug to ensure there are soft textures on the floor, as well as the furniture and decor. Noemie Deed, founder of Cosy Coco says, 'A rug is the obvious way to introduce coziness into a living room scheme from the ground up. The best choice is sumptuously soft wool that you can sink your feet into after a long day at work, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It’s worth investing in the rugs which will sit in your main rooms – the higher quality of the wool and the thicker pile increases both durability and softness which is the perfect pairing for high traffic spaces such as the living room. To inject even more of that comfort and coziness, consider layering two rugs over one another within the space.'
What colors work best in a cozy living room?
The best colors for cozy living rooms will depend on the overall look you are going for. You can't go wrong with a soft neutral palette made up of whites, creams and beige, but that doesn't mean you always have to stay away from more colorful schemes.
'Warm and earthy tones such as terracotta, yellow and coral will naturally bring a zest and sense of energy to a room. Yellows in particular, are known to lift a mood and evoke a feeling of warmth and connection to the sun. Similarly, terracotta tones are not only particularly on-trend at the moment but are also perfect for bringing a warm and comforting, cozy sense to a room, naturally lifting the mood.' says Helen Shaw, director at Benjamin Moore.
Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.
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