Winter’s fierce growl along with short, hectic days make it more important than usual for your home to serve as a warm and comfortable haven.
Here are 10 easy things you can do to make your home feel more cozy and the season’s chill seem less mean.
1. Warm Up With Colors
Whether you paint your walls a sun-kissed gold, cover a sofa with a warm-toned slipcover or simply add pillows or a throw blanket in a warm shade, you can quickly make a room look brighter and feel cozier with the right color.
“Any shade that complements flesh tones is a comforting thing,” says interior design expert Jim Rascoe, who co-owns Ireko, an upscale design shop north of San Francisco. “And most of us look and feel better in those shades.”
2. Play With Texture
Plush upholstery and flannel bedding can provide your home with a soft, relaxing feel. To make texture interesting, Rascoe recommends introducing variety: Choose a throw blanket with an open weave, such as chenille, for a twill sofa with a tight, smooth weave.
“The contrast provides richness and warmth,” he adds.
3. Illuminate “Feel-Good” Objects
Lighting shoos away winter’s shadows, and it can also be used to draw attention to objects you love. Try placing artful groupings of mementos and photographs beneath a lamp on an end table.
4. Bring In the Outdoors
Plants and fresh flowers in your home can offset a bleak landscape outside the window. For a unique twist on floral arranging, Tom Bastianon—owner of Trillium Flowers and Gardens in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco—suggests using a small birdbath as a vase.
“People are always looking for pedestals for their large vases,” he explains.
A birdbath is both. For an elegant winter arrangement, set a large candle in the bath’s water-filled center, place quince around the candle’s base (they provide a mild citrusy scent) and incorporate green late-season hydrangeas and berry-laden branches. Place in a quiet corner or in a foyer or bathroom.
5. Arrange With Care
The sizes and shapes of your furnishings are important: Variety adds interest. And this time of year more than any other, how you arrange these pieces is important, too.
As a holiday hostess or host, you need to be able to see, talk to and reach your guests. For optimal coziness, says Rascoe, create conversation groupings by moving furnishings closer together—a guest needing to rise to place a mug on a coffee table is a no-no.
6. Create a Nook for Sitting
A large, comfy chair is the ultimate refuge from the cold world outside.
“Choose one with a high back and an inherent sense of softness about the upholstery for visual warmth and comfortable seating,” Rascoe recommends.
Create a full ensemble with a standing lamp and end table and set the grouping in an intimate corner.
7. Cover Your Ground
Nothing warms up a bare floor quicker than an area rug. Don’t underestimate the visual warmth it provides as well, especially in sunburst tones.
For example, the vegetable dyes used in some Indian and Pakistani rugs make them look even warmer. From one angle, Rascoe explains, the colors look muted and soft; from another, they appear deeper and brighter. Choose the brighter angle for added winter warmth.
8. Light a Candle
Flickering flames work in any decor and in any room. Added visual warmth and design cachet can be achieved by placing candles in hurricane lamps made of amber-toned glass or in a grouping of holders that look like woven vines.
9. Embrace the Season, Gently
Holiday-themed floral accents are obvious brighteners, but they needn’t scream “Christmas.” A more subtle effect can be achieved by simply adding gold balls to an arrangement of non-holiday blooms and branches, suggests Bastianon.
You can also lightly spray small branches and seedpods with a dusting of gold: a nice look even after the tree comes down.
10. Alter Your Senses With Scents
Colorful, multi-textured potpourri—a mixture of scented preserved leaves, nuts, fruit slices, seedpods and pinecones—artfully arranged in a favorite bowl provides a vibrant focal point on a coffee or end table and enlivens a room with a pleasant aroma to lighten spirits and freshen the air.
As an alternative, Bastianon prefers the soft, natural aroma of fresh flowers for their promise of warmer days to come.
Published on realtor.com and updated from an earlier version by Susan Carmody.