6 Tiny Tweaks That’ll Make Your Living Room Instantly Cozy, According to Designers

published Apr 8, 2024
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A large media bookcase with TV books and decorative items divides the bedroom from the living room area.
Credit: Leela Cyd

Decor trends may come and go, but achieving a cozy, welcoming home is always in style. That’s especially true for the living room, since it’s a natural area for gathering and relaxing. And even though coziness tends to be top of mind during the colder months when you’re spending more time indoors, it’s actually something you can achieve year-round with a few quick and easy styling tricks. These six tiny tweaks will make your living room feel more cozy in any season, according to interior designers.

Add soft lighting

Skip the bright overheads, and incorporate plenty of warm bulbs in your living room. “Bright lights can really scream, so lose any harsh white light from overhead fixtures or table lamps,” says Valerie Helgeson, founder and lead designer of Design Directions in Oklahoma City. “Change out the light bulbs to an environmentally friendly LED in a soft white.”

Don’t forget to layer in some accent lighting options, too, like a table lamp, floor lamp, wall sconces, or even picture frame lighting. Switching off “the big light” in favor of smaller lamps dispersed around the room can make a big difference in its overall ambiance.

Texture, texture, texture!

According to designers, the key to making any space feel cozy is speaking to the senses. On top of addressing the lighting, this can include adding pleasant scents (thank you, candles!) and introducing plenty of texture with tactile touches and layering.

“Pillows with down fill are perfect to rest your head on or snuggle in your lap,” says Helgeson. “Soft, textural fabrics offer the best form of tactile pillow comfort. Keep a soft yarn throw or two in a nearby basket, or draped over your sofa or chair for crisp spring mornings.”

Fill the space with an area rug

Don’t forget about your floors! “Bare floors feel cold to the touch and leave the room looking unfinished with nothing to anchor the furniture,” says Laura Stein, founder and principal designer of Toronto-based Laura Stein Interiors. “Add in an area rug, and you’ve instantly elevated your room.”

A warm, fluffy style will undoubtedly up the cozy factor, but even a functional low-pile area rug will do the trick. The most important thing to consider is the size: Be sure you choose an area rug that’s large enough to reach under the front legs of all your main furniture pieces (think couches, accent chairs, etc.). A rug that’s too small can leave your space feeling awkward and unfinished. 

Bring in natural elements

Plant lovers, it’s your time to shine! According to designers, adding natural elements like houseplants to your living room can help the space feel more cozy and inviting. “Creating a connection with nature always makes a room feel more welcoming,” says Stein. 

Beyond plants, Stein recommends decorating with woods in warm colors and stains along with other natural materials like stone or clay. Woven baskets also work well as stylish storage or to display decor. You can even incorporate a few realistic-looking faux plants if you want the look of greenery without the ongoing maintenance. 

Prioritize window treatments

Even if you prefer to let the natural light in and enjoy the view out of your windows at all times, adding curtains, drapes, or shades helps lend a cozy touch. 

“Without window treatments, the room might feel cavernous and sparse,” says Kristen Scharer, founder and principal designer of Ohio-based Kristen Scharer Interiors. “Add some window treatments and your room will instantly feel more intimate, cozy, and complete. It’s like a blanket for your room. It softens the sound, the lights, and the overall feel of the space.” 

To make your living room curtains look more elegant and the windows feel larger, designers suggest installing a curtain rod a few inches below your ceiling, with three to four inches extending on either side of the window frame. Consider sheers if you want a minimal but still cozy look for spring.  

Credit: Erin Derby

Arrange your furniture to facilitate conversation

If you have a large or open-concept living room, Scharer recommends arranging your furniture in a way that encourages conversation. For bigger spaces, this usually means pulling furniture like couches and chairs off the wall, then centering them around a focal point like a fireplace, area rug, or coffee table. Essentially, Scharer says your furniture should be styled for close talking proximity versus feeling like you’re yelling across the room at someone.