As the nights draw in and the weather turns chilly, curling up on the sofa in front of the TV or a good book becomes commonplace. To help you create the ultimate cosy living room, interior design experts share their simple top tips for making the most of your lounge space during autumn and winter. From soft furnishings to mood lighting, learn how to make your space more inviting with these cosy living room ideas.
1. Keep the heat in
It’s crucial to make sure your living room is well insulated for the winter months. Start with the main culprit for heat loss – the windows. ‘If they’re ill-fitting and draughty, it’s worth replacing them with double- or triple-glazed units to help retain the heat, keep draughts at bay and maintain condensation-free sills,’ says interior designer Julia Kendell.
Additionally, individual thermostats on radiators are useful so you can adjust each room’s temperature when needed and minimise fuel costs. For more advice and information about keeping your house warm, visit the Energy Saving Trust.
2. Create a bold palette
Using rich and deep colours is an effective way to give an impression of warmth, says Julia. ‘Dark charcoal and navy both look fantastic on walls and work well together, especially when teamed with furnishings in contrasting colours, such as berry shades and mustard yellow,’ she explains. ‘Wooden furniture is also excellent in combination with a dark palette.’
Bring in burnt oranges, deep reds, mustard yellows, earthy tones or saturated colours for a bolder choice. ‘Reflecting the seasons in your home is a great way to freshen up your space. To really lift these colours and bring them to life, consider a mixture of creative layouts, patterns and textures,’ says interior designer Rukmini Patel in collaboration with 247 Blinds.
Mid-century modern and industrial styles in particular look great teamed with rich shades.
3. Add some shine
Copper and brass work especially well with grey and navy walls. ‘You can introduce a bit of sparkle with most colour schemes if you go for small highlights such as scatter cushions, tea light holders and picture frames,’ explains Julia. ‘If you want to go further, opt for a wallpaper or curtain fabric with a metallic element in the design.
‘Another great use of metallics is on the inside of lampshades as it will cast a warm glow to the surroundings, and even when not lit will still add interest and opulence to the scheme.’
4. Cast a glow
With fewer daylight hours in winter, it’s important to ensure every cosy living room is well lit. Aim for soft background lighting, says Julia, preferably with ceiling fittings that are dimmable, and a task light by the sofa for reading.
‘Low light from table lamps are an excellent addition, use warm LED light bulbs to add additional warmth and comfort to your room, the more yellow the light, the cosier you will feel,’ adds interior designer Vanessa Arbuthnott.
And, if you’ve got a darker corner, you could use a lamp to transform it into a reading nook. Try adding a ceramic-based or rattan style table lamp next to your favourite armchair or on either side of your sofa.
‘When settling down for the evening, cosied up on the sofa, you don’t want garish overhead lights which can feel too bright and cold,’ says interior design psychology expert, Niki Schafer, in collaboration with B&Q. ‘To achieve the feeling of cosy – the point at which our bodies relax and we feel a sense of safety – it’s best to sit in a pocket of light. A dimmable floor lamp is perfect to achieve this, as it casts a warm puddle of light in a specific area.
‘To create a sense of balance throughout the room, wall lights can also create soft light that doesn’t dominate. Try leaving them on a circuit of their own so they can be used as the sole source of light.’
Mood lighting is also key to creating a snug and cosy environment at home. Vanessa suggests making the fireplace (if you have one) your primary light source for cold evenings.
Julia echoes this idea: ‘A woodburning stove will add a warm glow and candlelight creates a cosy atmosphere. Enhance the effect with carefully positioned mirrors and reflective surfaces.’
5. Use home fragrance
Updating your home fragrance is a simple way to introduce the new season into your living room.
‘The ambience of your room is identified by the scent, and you can find one which not only matches the season but the décor of your room. Go for rich and warm scents combining bergamot, frankincense and amber, to match the autumn landscape outdoors and sit well with an open fireplace,’ suggests Vanessa.
6. Add rugs to hard flooring
‘Older properties with exposed floorboards can be particularly draughty from below,’ says Julia. ‘Filling the gaps with flexible filler can help, or covering the floor with a room-sized rug will instantly deal with the problem.’
A rug over hard flooring can create the warmth and texture to transform your sitting room as well as enhance its visual appeal. ‘Place your rug just under the front legs of your sofa and completely under your coffee table,’ advises Vanessa. ‘Keep it neutral with a plain colour or a light pattern. You can change the entire ambience by picking a bright coloured abstract rug.’
Daniel Prendergast, Design Director at The Rug Seller, suggests chunky knit wool rugs or faux fur styles: ‘A rug is a brilliant starting point to transform your home in time for winter – and nothing screams cosy more than a faux fur rug. Whether you choose to place your rug at the heart of your living room or use it to enhance and soften a cosy nook, a faux floor rug can add a luxurious Scandi feel to your living space, creating a soft and warming effect. Choose a neutral tone such as grey or ivory for a contemporary finish or a natural brown for an animal fur (yet faux) effect.’
7. Opt for deeper shades in your carpet
If you prefer the plush feel of carpet underfoot in your living room, the colours you use can make all the difference. For a cosy ambience, darker shades can add warmth and also make feature furniture stand out.
We’re fans of a rich charcoal grey, like in this Super Sublime Saxony Carpet, that can be complemented with moody shades of deep forest green or warmed up with creamier shades of beige or caramel. If an all-over colour is too bold for your tastes, consider a stripe that brings in toasty reds or a burnt orange, and build your colour palette from there.
Of course an essential part of creating a cosy living room with carpet is the right material – the deeper the pile the better, so opt for something densely woven and luxurious.
8. Layer textures
The secret to a warm and cosy living room? Layering. There’s nothing quite as inviting on a chilly evening as soft, warm textures to sink into and snuggle up in. Layering and accessorising with extra throws and cushions is a must for lounging.
‘Go for a mix of throws and cushions in chunky knit, faux-fur and felted fabrics for the ultimate in cosiness. You can also add in wool and silk for a fabulously indulgent and luxurious effect,’ suggests Julia.
Vanessa adds: ‘If you have a leather or bright coloured sofa, opt for neutral or contrasting dark shades to tone your living room and make it weather appropriate. Buy a few textured throws and matching pillows, layer them up or drape them over the arms.’
Opt for oranges, reds and caramel, all great tones for this time of the year that will transform your sofa and indeed the whole room.
9. Bring the outdoors in
‘Introducing nature indoors is a great way to enhance the cosiness of your home,’ says Rukmini. ‘Pile pine cones in a vase along with silver birch to add a connection to the outdoors. Placing fire logs near the fireplace, surrounded by candles in lanterns will make you feel warm and snug as the weather changes.’
Indoor plants are a staple in cosy spaces, studies show that they promote an array of physical and psychological benefits, from purifying our air to reducing stress, for a more relaxing atmosphere.
10. Velvet is always a safe bet
Velvet is the ultimate in cosy fabrics thanks to its luxuriously soft pile. We love a velvet sofa in a spicy mustard yellow or warming mauve – especially a corner sofa like our House Beautiful Darcy model that envelopes you as you curl up on a cold evening.
Velvet will also sit happily with other textures when you layer up your throws and cushions, so don’t hold back when mixing in a chunky wool knit or a shaggy faux fur.
11. Choose the right blinds
The right window dressing is very important during the autumn and winter months, and blackout blinds can be a great way to insulate the home. These thick fabrics help to keep the heat in during the winter and, in turn, keep it out during the summer.
‘It’s important to let the sunlight in during the day to gain as much natural heat as possible. Blinds should be open during the day and closed as soon as dusk falls. On especially dreary winter days, consider keeping the blinds down all day to retain heat,’ explains Rukmini.
Jason Peterkin, Director at 247 Blinds, adds: ‘Wooden Venetians and shutters are often thicker and essentially act as a barrier between your windows and the room. They are particularly good at retaining heat, as wood possesses insulative properties naturally.’
12. Update curtains
Rather than altering the whole scheme, Julia says we should give some thought to year-round options for the living room, for example, replacing lightweight summer curtains with heavyweight drapes in winter, or adding lining such as thermal fleece fabric to lightweight curtains as the season changes.
‘When it gets dark and rainy outside, drawing your curtains can make your living room warmer and cosier,’ says Vanessa. ‘For autumn/winter, beautiful linen curtains with insulating inter lining are a must. Again, choose warm colours such as reds and oranges to create the ultimate warm ambience.’
13. Warming woods
The warmth and rustic feel of wood makes it a great addition to a cosy living room scheme. Wooden coffee tables or sideboards, particularly in oak, mango wood or ash, can soften your space and introduce a warming and natural colour palette. Raw finishes that display the knots and imperfections of wood are particularly effective in cosy rooms, so too are chunkier pieces like this classic Ercol Mia Sideboard, as spindly legs and slim silhouettes are a touch more modern, and do better in cool, minimal spaces.
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