33 Interior Design Tips to Make Your Home Cozy for Winter
Brace yourself for the cold weather with these genius winter home design tips!
For many people, the onset of winter means holing up at home, patiently counting down the seconds until more sunshine and warmer temperatures return. And for those who take a hibernation-like approach to their hygge, there's no better time to give your home a facelift than winter. However, you don't have to invest in a major renovation to transform your space into a comfortable hideaway from the cold. With the help of interior designers and other top industry experts, we've got everything you need to turn your home into a cozy space you'll be eager to wait out the winter in.
Incorporate some shag accents.
While shag carpeting may have come and gone with the '70s, a few thoughtfully placed fuzzy accent pieces can make all the difference in how cozy your home feels. "People love the feel of it, so it really can make a space feel homey," says Gideon Mendelson, founder and creative director of interior design firm Mendelson Group in Sagaponack, New York. He suggests adding a "throw blanket or accent pillow, or even on an ottoman or coverlet" in the fabric to warm up your home.
Add some seasonal scents to your space.
Adding to your home's visual landscape isn't the only way to make it feel cozy. "Diffusers offer natural aromatherapy and help humidify the space," says interior designer Diana Weinstein of Glen Ridge, New Jersey. "Try one with soothing lavender, spicy cinnamon, or sweet vanilla to keep the space feeling cozy and warm."
Invest in a portable fireplace.
Even if you don't have a built-in fireplace, adding a portable one to any room in the house can instantly up the coziness factor. Weinstein suggests investing in an Anywhere Fireplace, which "are ventless and use ethanol, which is recycled and clean-burning," meaning there are no dangerous fumes to worry about.
Create tabletop centerpieces with winter greenery.
While winter isn't typically a great time for gardening, bringing clippings of cold-friendly plants (like holly, blue spruce, or pansies) or other natural elements (like pine cones) into your home can cozy up any space in an instant—especially when they're paired with a festive candle for extra warmth and light. "Adding natural elements gives a home a decorative warmth," says Linda Fennessy, kitchen staging photography coordinator with Kitchen Magic. Using even small natural elements can "give your existing decorations a boost with a unique look," she says.
Add some textiles to your tables.
If you're looking to make an inviting and cozy tablescape without bringing the outdoors in, add some quilted runners to your tables and bookcase. Not only will they boost your room's aesthetic appeal, they'll keep your surfaces safe from spills and moisture marks, too!
Channel your inner baker.
There are few things like the scent of freshly baked cookies to get you excited about the colder temperatures. If the weather's got you feeling down, try baking up a batch of gingerbread cookies or cinnamon rolls to fill your home with a holiday-inspired scent—and, of course, a nice snack to enjoy afterward.
Put down some area rugs.
The feeling of bare feet on a cold floor can make anyone hate the winter. If you're eager to sidestep that all-too-common—and highly unpleasant—sensation, try covering any uncarpeted areas of your home with plush throw rugs to make things a little more comfortable. "You can drastically improve the overall feeling of warmth and the actual physical warmth of your room by including rugs," says Brett Elron, owner and lead interior designer at BarterDesign.co, an interior design consultancy based in New York.
Use softer lighting.
If you want to make your home feel cozier during those long winter days, there's no time like the present to upgrade your lighting. "By implementing softer lighting, you will provide a warmer environment to relax in after work," says Elron, who suggests doing so by adding warm light LED bulbs to lamps in communal spaces. You can also achieve similar results by adding dimmer switches to existing outlets.
And add some lighter lamp shades, too.
The right lamp shade can make all the difference between a home that feels cave-like in the winter and one that feels cozy and welcoming. "Paper or linen lamp shades diffuse light better, making it easier on the eyes," says Weinstein.
Create furniture displays in otherwise unused corners.
Those corners of your home without furniture can look especially bleak when under the harsh winter light. To brighten up your space and add some much-needed warmth, "create cozy corners and inviting vignettes instead," suggests Amanda M. Amato-Scotto, CEO and principal designer at AMA Designs & Interiors in Wallington, New Jersey. "Spruce up an empty corner with a small-scale chair, a side-table, footstool, and floor lamp to create… a cozy haven to retreat to."
Bring home some green friends.
Just because everything outside is brown or blanketed in snow doesn't mean your house has to look drab inside, too. Bringing home a few easy-to-care-for plants, like succulents, can instantly add vibrancy to your space. In fact, a 2015 study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthroplogy even suggests that having indoor plants can reduce psychological stress.
No green thumb? No problem! You can "drape faux greenery on bannisters, stairways, across fireplaces, and around chandeliers," suggests interior designer Denise Gianna of Denise Gianna Designs in Beacon, New York.
Build a terrarium.
Even if adding a ton of plants to your space doesn't appeal to you, there's an easy way to make your home cozier this winter: build a terrarium. Whether you use succulent clippings or fake plants, making your own terrarium is a perfect winter weather activity that can brighten up any space in no time.
Add some comfy throw pillows.
Face it: Despite any intentions to leave the house, many of your winter days will inevitably be spent indoors. With that in mind, it's imperative to have plenty of spots to curl up with a cup of tea or hot cocoa. The easiest way to make every space in your home better for lounging? Add some throw pillows, suggests Gianna. "This softens and warms a room instantly and bumps up the comfort level to 11!"
Toss a colorful blanket on your sofa.
Curling up on your sofa when the temperature dips is pleasant enough as it is; curling up under a cozy blanket, however, is nothing short of heavenly. "Easily switch up your home décor with the season by draping cozy blankets in warm winter fabrics like wool, fur, flannel, and fleece over your beds and seating," suggests Gianna.
Upgrade your curtains.
Those translucent panels that keep your home flooded with natural light throughout the summer just won't cut it when winter rolls around. If you want to keep your home feeling cozy and warm, it's time to switch to a heavier fabric. "Thick or lined drapes in complimentary deep tones add instant physical and psychological warmth to any room," says Gianna.
And add more curtains to section off rooms.
If you're still feeling the chill inside your home, try adding some warm curtains to your space to section off open doorways. With a tension rod and some heavy drapes, you can help keep the warm air in and the cold out!
Bring splashes of color into your design scheme.
The long, gray days of winter can make even the most vibrant home look drab, so now's the time to try adding some pops of color to your existing design scheme. Brightly patterned pillows, a winter bouquet on your mantle, or a few holiday-themed accents can instantly brighten your space, even when you don't see the sun for days.
Add some candle light.
Who says you need a fireplace to make your home cozier this winter? "A fire might seem like an obvious way to warm up a space, but a simple grouping of candles on a coffee or buffet table adds beautiful light and ambiance to a room," says Gianna.
Rearrange your furniture for gatherings.
While you may have to wait a few more months to enjoy barbecues in your backyard, there's an easy way to make your interiors more conducive to hosting. "Bunch seating groups closer together to facilitate warm, intimate conversation. I routinely encourage clients to float furniture eight to 12 inches away from walls to create a feeling of space and lightness," says Gianna, who also suggests moving seating areas slightly closer to warming elements, like fireplaces. "In the colder months, pulling your furniture away from the walls and windows helps to mitigate the effect of drafts and cold outside."
Hang a seasonal wreath.
Coziness isn't all about interior appeal. In fact, making a cozy home starts at your doorstep with a seasonal wreath. "A simple pine bough wreath can be decorated with fall ribbon and faux fruits or vegetables in November and wrapped in silver ribbon and embellished with cardinals, snowflakes, and holly berry crafts a month later," says Gianna.
Invest in some updated bedding.
Getting your home ready for winter also means adding comfort to your bedroom in the form of heavier textiles. Cotton flannel, velvet flannel, or heavyweight Egyptian cotton sheets are all warm alternatives to your average thin bedding and can make your home cozier (and your sleep a lot more comfortable).
Add some jewel tones to your palette.
A little color can go a long way when it comes to making your home cozy for winter. "Switch your warm weather accessories for décor in rich, warm, jewel-toned colors and fabrics," suggests Gianna. "Choose deep or bright tones that complement the décor you can't switch out," like tables, chairs, and other larger wooden pieces.
Update your art.
A new season calls for some new decorations on your walls. If you're trying to create a cozy home for winter, it's time to forgo that minimalist aesthetic. "Bare walls—especially bare white walls—can feel cold," says Gianna. "Warm your room and encourage cozy gatherings by filling walls with large scale art, tapestries, or decorative rugs in bright or deep seasonal tones. And don't stop there—share happy times and memories by adding a few carefully placed, meaningful family photos in warm wood, metal, or fabric frames and intersperse with cherished family ornaments or mementos."
Add some extra lamps to your living spaces.
While it may be dark and gloomy outside, there's no reason your house has to feel the same. Instead of turning on the overheads, a cozy home is well within reach if you simply switch on some table lamps instead. "Consider avoiding using recessed or ceiling lights during fall and winter evenings and sub in low task or targeted lighting that floods the room," suggests Gianna. "Floor or table lamps nestled close to the sofa, tall buffet lamps, or candelabras on a console table are flattering and elegant."
Create a reading nook.
There are few things more enjoyable on a cold day than sinking into a good book. If you want to catch up on the classics (or those holdover beach reads) when it's too cold to go out, make yourself a reading nook in which to do so. A comfortable chair, a reading lamp, a blanket, some pillows, and plenty of peace and quiet are all you need for a cozy day in.
Hang some string lights outside.
Just because it's dark by afternoon doesn't mean you need to forgo your outdoor space this winter. Even if you're not having meals outside, you can still brighten up your patio, gazebo, or garage with a few rows of string lights, making your home look instantly cozier in the process.
Bulk up your towels.
Stepping out of the shower on a below-freezing day and trying to stay warm with a threadbare towel is hardly a pleasant experience. This winter, try upgrading your towels. A set of plush towels can not only keep you warm, but make the whole idea of getting up while it's still dark out a whole lot more palatable.
Keep slippers handy.
Keeping a cozy home means keeping yourself cozy, too. Fortunately, a pair of slippers next to your bed or at your front door can help you outsmart drafts and stay warm.
Add some round accent pieces.
While dark winter days can make even otherwise homey spaces feel strangely austere, adding a few rounded accent pieces can make any room feel cozier in seconds.
When you add in design pieces like round mirrors, tables, and pillows, "you'll achieve a relaxed, welcoming vibe with minimal effort," according to Jemma Lane, a design expert with U.K. luxury home company Arbor Living.
Invest in a wintry welcome mat.
Make your home cozy from the outside in by upgrading your welcome mat for the winter months. While the rest of your neighborhood may be gray, a brightly colored winter mat means that, at the very least, your home won't be!
Leave your shoes by the front door.
And don't be afraid to put that welcome mat to use, too! After all, the shoes you wear outside aren't exactly clean, especially after you've trudged through the uniquely wintry mix of slush and salt. If you want to make your home cozier this winter, install a no-shoes-inside policy and you'll not only have less cleaning to do, you'll keep your whole family healthier. Research conducted by Charles Gerba, PhD, at the University of Arizona in 2008 revealed that 90 percent of the bacteria on footwear—including E. coli and coliform bacteria—transfers directly to the floors of your home. Yuck!
Upgrade your windows.
According to a 2014 report from Energy Star, upgrading those old windows can not only make your home cozy this winter, it can save you a boatload of cash along the way. So, how much can you save when you install new windows? Up to $465 a year! The pleasure of never dealing with another draft is just an added bonus.
And upgrade your HVAC system, too.
Want to make sure your home is comfortable when you come home, no matter how cold it is outside? Then consider upgrading to smart technology. Craig Russell—founder and CEO of The English Contractor, a building and remodeling firm located in Cincinnati, Ohio—says that smart systems, like Nest, are a great way to instantly upgrade any space for the colder months. "We like the control that it gives to make the home more comfortable," says Russell. He notes that such systems also save users money "by lowering the heat when you leave and [having] it back up to your preferred temperature by the time you arrive back home." What could be cozier than that?