For years I've been striving, in my decor, for a certain aesthetic perfection. I've collected many images of rooms that are grand and lovely. But lately something different is happening - I find myself drawn more and more to spaces that are small, and warm, and comfortable. The thing is, houses are not just for looking at; they're for living in. And a truly cozy house - one that meets your needs well, and invites visitors in - will be beautiful as well. So my goals have changed a little: from beautification to cozy-fication. If you, too, crave something warm and homey, here are a few ideas for getting the look that says: "Come in. Stay a while."
1. Look for furniture that is 'curl-upabble'.
There's often a bit of a gap between furniture that is lovely to look upon, and furniture that is lovely to sit upon. Ideally, the perfect sofa would strike a balance between the two. But if you're truly dedicated to coziness, before purchasing anything designed for sitting, you must consider its curl-uppability. "Can I see myself curled up on this sofa of a Sunday afternoon, feet sunk deep in the cushions, reading a book and drinking tea?" If the answer is no - keep looking.
2. Mix it up a little.
"Don't buy all your furniture from one store," the old adage goes, "unless you want your house to look like a furniture store." Furniture stores are lovely, but they are not inviting. To get away from the show-house look, mix together pieces from different styles. When considering things together, think less about what "matches" and more about what "goes". Mixing dissimilar pieces creates visual texture, which will make any space more inviting and more cozy.
3. Fill your house with things you would want to touch.
An old leather chair, a worn wood table, a fluffy throw, a patterned rug - items with lots of texture, that are interesting to touch and hold, add warmth to a room.
4. Use warm colors.
Until I started serious home improvements and became a student of the paint chips at Lowe's, it did not occur to me that every color has a "mood". Cooler colors make a space feel larger and airier. Warm colors do the oppsite - they make a space feel smaller and cozier. Every color, even whites and blacks, can have cool or warm undertones.
5. Lighting, lighting, lighting.
One of the most important factors in how a room looks is something most people usually don't even think about: light. Sometimes I find myself drooling over a beautiful image in a magazine, only to realize - "I don't like the stuff in this room. I like the light." It's especially important in a living room to have multiple light sources - brighter ones for larger gatherings, smaller ones for more intimate gatherings or a night in. Table lamps bring lighting down to a human level and give big rooms a sense of scale.
6. Switch 'cool' light bulbs for 'warm' ones.
Tiny investment, minimal work, nearly instant cozification.
7. Live with the things you love.
My collection of cocktail books. The old rotary phone from my grandmother's house. The license plate from my first car. All these things make my house feel like home because they remind me of people and things I love. When I'm at home, I feel that it is a place where I truly belong. And that's the whole idea of coziness - that rooms are made for people.
(Images: 1. Sarah Hogan/Heart Home pg. 85 2. Oliver Gordon/Heart Home pg. 108 3. Alex's apartment on Apartment Therapy)