6 easy ways to make your home cosy chic for a Covid hibernation

Amp up the comfort factor in your home with warm colours and layers of texture

Cosy decor
Credit: Amara.com

The golden days of summer have never felt more like a mirage – as the nights draw in and  restrictions tighten across the country, all thoughts have turned to hunkering down. This year more than ever, with the prospect of more home-working and less to do outside our own front doors, we need comfortable, cosseting rooms that feel good to be in. Here, then, are six ways to make your home feel cosier in time for the winter ahead.

1. Warm up your palette

“Without doubt, lockdown has made us look differently at the way we live,” says Joa Studholme of paint brand Farrow & Ball. “We want colours that are warm, welcoming and easy to live with, and finishes that are super-tough and easy to clean.” She recommends the brand’s Modern Emulsion in Jitney or Dead Salmon, puttyish neutral tones that will make a cosier alternative to cold greys, as will peach-toned pinks such as Mylands’ Threadneedle.

Colour therapists say we are drawn to earthy tones for comfort in times of uncertainty, which perhaps explains the revival of terracotta, deep green, caramel and chocolate brown recently, all of which will warm up the aesthetic temperature of a room.

Studholme advises taking your lead from the function of the room, whether it’s for work or relaxing. “As we adapt to the idea of spending more time at home, most of us prefer to be in light rooms during the day and darker spaces in the evening, subconsciously working with natural light and following the rhythm of the day, which results in a greater sense of wellbeing. A deep dramatic colour can be used in rooms you retire to in the evening to create a really intimate space that feels like it’s giving you a hug.”

2. Look up

A kitchen with a gloss ceiling in Bancha by Farrow & Ball

It’s not just the colours you choose, but where you put them, according to Studholme. “Consider the ceiling to be your fifth wall and give it due consideration – its colour is absolutely vital to your overall decorative scheme,” she says. “If you want a room to feel more cosy, the first thing you should do is lower the perceived ceiling height. This is easily done by stopping the colour on the walls shy of the coving and ceiling, which will make the ceiling feel lower and the room more intimate.”

A contrasting colour used on a ceiling can also give the effect of lowering it: “The ubiquitous use of white on ceilings leads to spaces being too defined and rooms feeling cold,” says Studholme. She suggests trying an unconventional finish, too: “Gloss paint has an amazing effect on a room, bouncing light around the space and creating a magical atmosphere. Or if you are feeling very brave you could even use wallpaper on the ceiling and part way down the walls for the ultimate cosy look.”

3. Surround yourself with nature

Materials that evoke a connection with the outside world have a soothing effect on the psyche (as opposed to artificial environments such as supermarkets – and the average office – which can heighten feelings of anxiety). Although it’s harder to ‘bring the outside in’ over autumn and winter, without the option of throwing open doors and raiding the garden for flowers, think in terms of natural textures such as wool, linen, wicker and wood.

Wicker, wood and plenty of texture in a living room Credit: H&M Home (hm.com)

Hannah Risbridger, a former fashion buyer, co-founded From the Post House last autumn – a subscription service that sends out curated boxes filled with homewares and styling advice to help create a seasonal look in the home: its new ‘Autumn Hygge’ box includes a cushion, candle, match holder and mug.

In the absence of fresh blooms, she advises filling bowls with seasonal fruit and vegetables, or trying dried or preserved flowers instead. “They’re a stunning and sustainable way to accessorise the home,” she says. “Fill a ceramic or amber glass vase with some structural stems – Shida Preserved Flowers do some beautiful bouquets that will last all season.”

4. Layer up

“Winter is about layering,” says interior designer Martin Waller. “Just as we put on coats, scarves and gloves, your home needs extra rugs, throws and pattern.” More is more with this approach: a mix of textures from blankets piled up in a wicker basket, cushions with velvet or chunky-knit wool covers, and large thick rugs helps to add warmth, both physically and aesthetically.

Consider adding texture to walls, too, with textile wall hangings (try Etsy.com or Roseandgrey.co.uk) or cladding: painted tongue-and-groove or slatted oak acoustic wall panelling will add instant cosiness at relatively little cost.

5. Focus on lighting

This is the most effective way to change the atmosphere of a room – and if cosiness is what you’re after, forget overhead lights. Ceiling or spotlights can be necessary in kitchens and workspaces on dull days, but make sure they are on dimmer switches so that they can be easily adjusted.

Add a variety of lamps at different levels – a floor or table lamp in each corner of the room, plus others set on shelves. As Waller puts it, “Create a conversation with your lighting using different heights. Why limit yourself to a single dimmer switch when you can be surrounded with warmth?” Make sure lamps are fitted with warm-white bulbs – or, for the ultimate in ambience, go for colour-changing bulbs such as Ikea’s TRADFRI or Philips Hue, which allow you to light your room in any colour you choose.

6. Be inspired by the past

Get the cosy cottage look with gingham table linens Credit: Rebeccaudall.com

It’s no coincidence that the ‘cottagecore’ trend has taken off this year: traditional-style furniture and textiles with a nostalgic look evoke feelings of comfort and security. Bringing in some granny chic with vintage, dark-wood furniture, patterned wallpaper and floral fabrics will create a cottagey vibe, whether or not you live in one.

“A country-house aesthetic helps create a cosy, relaxed and content atmosphere,” say Emily and Victoria Ceraudo of online homeware shop Ceraudo, which sells vintage pieces and their own designs in soft colours and vintage-style patterns - including a new range in checks and polka dots. “Layering different prints, fabrics, textured upholstery and wallpaper is a great way to incorporate this aesthetic.”

For a quick way to get the look, cover the dining table or desk with a gingham tablecloth, throw a patterned blanket over the sofa or bed, and swap out plain cushions for floral or striped designs. Add scented candles and hot drinks on tap, and you’ll create a space you won’t want to leave – which might be just as well.