Have you ever walked into a room and immediately felt at home? Like you just want to snuggle up and spend a few hours in that place?
I think we’ve all had those moments. Maybe it was your grandmother’s kitchen, or you best friend’s living room, or your favorite local coffee shop. Sometimes I even get this feeling when I’m reading about a place in a book. (Am I the only one who wants to recreate the Griffyndor common room, with its squashy armchairs and crackling fire??)
So how do we create spaces in our homes that feel just like that. That are warm and beautiful and inviting to everyone who visits. We want people to feel welcome and comfortable in our homes.
How do we make a room feel cozy?
I started doing some research (aka browsing my favorite decorating boards on Pinterest) to figure out how the professionals make rooms feel warm and inviting. How do designers cozy-up a room?
Turns out, it’s easier than you might think.
The lighting in a room is the first thing to set the mood. Lots of natural light creates a sense of brightness and cleanliness. So make the most of your windows by opening your curtains and blinds every day (try removing blinds entirely in non-private areas) and cleaning the windows, sills, and blinds on a regular basis.
Where I live, rain, dust and pollen (not to mention thousands of sticky fingerprints) can dirty up my windows in a hurry. While I don’t like the task of cleaning them, I’m always pleasantly surprised by the results. It’s like breathing new life into every room.
When the sun goes down (or if you have a room with poor natural light), make a plan for artificial lighting. Personally, I believe that a woman can never have too many lamps. I prefer lamplight to overhead lighting in almost every scenario. The small, warm glow of a lamp – or two or three – can instantly change the whole feeling of your room.
This is an area we can inadvertently overlook as homemakers. It can be a little tricky to get right, and everyone has different taste. But adding texture to any room will immediately give it a sense of luxury and comfort. Here are a few ideas for using texture to cozy-up different rooms in your house.
Bedrooms: Choose multiple layers of bedding for each bedroom, so that whoever is sleeping there can get things just the way they like them. In our master bedroom, I change our bedding with the seasons – we have a winter set with darker colors and flannel sheets and a summer set of light whites and cool, blue cotton sheets.
Living Room: Try stashing a collection of soft, plush blankets in a canvas basket for anyone to use (check places like Marshall’s and Home Goods for pretty baskets at great prices). Choose sofas made of soft, washable materials or slipcovers. And don’t forget to change out the pillows with the seasons. I actually use slipcovers for my pillows (from Hobby Lobby) so that I don’t have to store a closet full of seasonal throw pillows! You can find different weights and textures of blankets to change with the seasons too. Even in summer, I like to have a few lightweight throw blankets available for snuggling on the couch.
Kitchen: Have fun with your dish towels. They are inexpensive and easy to replace. Pay attention to the seat pads or upholstery on your chairs. Even your potholders, oven mitts, and aprons can add a sense of style, warmth and coziness to your space. Choose colors and patterns that you love to give people a sense of who you are and make them feel welcome.
Ever notice how a particular smell can transport you to another space and time? As humans, our sense of smell is not nearly has highly developed as most animals. But the things we do smell make a strong impact, especially on our memories. There’s a reason that Disney World pumps the smell of baking cookies through the Main Street area and that you always think of your high school boyfriend when you catch a whiff of his favorite cologne.
Aromas are almost magical in their ability to make impressions. So if you fill your home with your signature scents, you’ll automatically create a sense of recognition and belonging for your family and visitors.
Certain aromas have a calming effect while others are energizing, so play around with the ones you like best. My mom always has the best yummy-smelling candles burning in her house (like creme brûlée), and it makes me feel right at home when I walk through the door.
There are lots of amazing candles on the market these days, but you still can’t beat a good old Yankee Candle for the holidays.
If you don’t want to burn candles all day (I’m guilty of leaving one burning while I left the house once or twice – yikes!), you can also use reed diffusers or something like a Glade Plugin (my year-round scent is Cashmere Woods).
And don’t underestimate the power of scent as you choose your household cleaners either. Your choice of laundry detergent and softener has a major comfort factor involved. Even my kids will say, “this smells like Abby’s house” if they come home from their grandma’s (aka Abby’s) with a bag full of clothes she’s washed (yes, she’s awesome like that).
I’ve recently discovered the amazing scents made by Mrs. Meyers for everyday cleaners and soaps. My current favorite is Honeysuckle (oh my word…takes me back to my days as a kid living in South Carolina where honeysuckle vines grew wild on every corner). See how our memories and scents are so tied together?
It doesn’t matter much what scent you choose…just pick the ones you love and everyone will feel right at home when they walk through your front door and notice your signature scent.
Take it from me, these 3 things will make any room feel cozy.
When I went to college many years ago, I found myself far from my family and friends, in a city I wasn’t familiar with, a stranger for a roommate, and four concrete dormitory walls to call home.
My parents came to help me unpack, and my mom and I did a little decorating. My dad even made me a shelving unit for our television and mini fridge. They did the best they could, but at the end of the day, when they drove away, I was still pretty homesick. Nothing felt familiar. Nothing felt comfortable.
For the first few weeks I was pretty miserable. As a shy, introvert with a strong need for quality time with my loved ones, each day was a bit of a struggle. I was using all my energy to navigate my new world, and I needed a place to feel refreshed. A place to restore my soul.
Without knowing why, one day I decided to stop by the local Walmart (in my college town, there wasn’t much else to choose from). I wandered down the aisles and ended up with a small lamp and an inexpensive quilt. We weren’t allowed to burn candles in the dorm, and I hadn’t heard of reed diffusers at that point in my life. But I bought some slice and bake cookies and headed back to my new “home.”
That night, I sat in my little twin sized bed, snuggled under my new quilt, inhaling the scent of warm, fresh-from-the-oven cookies (my room was pretty close to our communal kitchen), and reading my well-worn copy of Pride and Prejudice by the light of my new bedside lamp.
I was finally able to breath a sigh of relief. God had seen me in my misery and given me the inspiration to recreate a little piece of home. I still struggled for a while to find my way, but now I had the place of respite I needed.
You don’t need a lot of money or a designer’s eye to make your home a haven. Just add a little light, texture, and a comforting aroma to turn any space (even a cinder-block dorm room) into your own personal sanctuary.
Ready to get started? What are your favorite ways to make a room feel cozy?