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How to Make Your Home Cozy Without Spending a Penny, Interior Designers Say

You likely already have everything you need to add seasonal style and up your ambience.

With brutal cold snaps and short, dark days, winter can feel like the harshest of seasons. Yet if you embrace the beauty of spending more time at home—and cultivate a cozy space that plays up winter's best assets—you may even learn to love the frosty weather. In fact, interior design experts say there are simple changes that can warm up your home decor—and you don't necessarily have to spend any money to make them. Read on to learn the seven best ways to make your house feel extra cozy without buying anything new.

RELATED: 10 Mistakes You're Making That Keep Your House Cold, Experts Say.

Make a simmer pot.

Cranberries cinnamon anise and eucalyptus for simmer pot

One way to make your home feel cozier in the winter is to appeal to all of the senses, says Kara Harms, a designer and the owner of Whimsy Homes Cabin. In particular, "scent is a huge component to making a space feel welcoming," she notes.

Harms says that her "go-to trick" for making a space feel cozy that involves spending zero extra cash is to make a simmer pot.

"You can make a simmer pot with pretty much anything you have left over from cooking: lemons, limes, cinnamon sticks, ginger, apples, even extra pine trimmings from your tree or garland," she shares. "Toss them into a large pot of water on your stove and boil on low heat for a few hours to make your house smell amazing without spending any money on candles!"

RELATED: 5 Ways to Create a Cozy Reading Nook You'll Never Want to Leave.

Ban overhead lights.

Man sitting on a chair and reading a book at home at night.
South_agency / iStock

Harsh lighting can really kill the winter mood, making a room feel cold and uninviting. Harms recommends banning big overhead lights during the wintry months for exactly this reason.

"By using your smaller lamps in the winter you can create a cozy space and actually save some money from not using that big light," she notes.

Add layers of golden light.

candles in cozy living room
Africa Studio / Shutterstock

In place of brighter lights, play up sources of natural light and add layers of softer golden lights indoors. If you have warm-toned lamps or twinkle lights lying around, now is the time to use them.

Candles also provide a uniquely cozy glow in the winter months, says Chris Mitchell, a designer with 720 Studio.

"Utilize the candles you already own to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Place candles of varying heights on your coffee table, mantel, or any available surface," he suggests. "The soft glow of candlelight adds a touch of romance and coziness. You can also gather candles in different sizes and shapes for a more eclectic and relaxed ambiance."

RELATED: 7 Home Design Choices That Bring Down Your Mood.

Make seasonal centerpieces.

Wooden box christmas centerpiece. Simple and small home decoration with candles in wooden box.

Food provides nourishment, which is why decorating with food-oriented items can feel especially cozy.

Serena Grandi, CEO of the culinary company Atosa, recommends displaying seasonal fruits in bowls, which can create "a visually appealing and functional centerpiece."

Mitchell adds that you can gather other natural elements to bring indoors as another way to enhance your space for free.

"Collect branches, pinecones, or evergreen clippings to create seasonal decor," he says. "Place these items in vases or bowls for a simple and cost-effective way to add a touch of nature to your home. Natural elements contribute to a sense of tranquility and can be especially cozy during the winter months."

Rearrange your furniture.

Cozy home reading nook with books and plants
JulieK2 / Shutterstock

Yet another way to increase the ambiance in your home without spending a cent is to rearrange your furniture.

"A simple change in the layout of a room can completely transform its coziness factor," says Ricky Allen, director and designer for Ever Wallpaper. "Instead of facing all your furniture towards the TV, try creating a cozy reading nook by placing a comfortable armchair and some blankets by a window. This will give you a new perspective on your home and make it feel more inviting."

Mitchell agrees that this can be a simple and cost-free way to transform your space in the winter. "Consider placing furniture closer together to promote conversation and create a snug atmosphere. Repositioning your seating area to focus around a fireplace, if you have one, can instantly make the space feel warmer and cozier," he tells Best Life.

RELATED: 8 Easy Ways to Make Your Bedroom Feel Like a Luxe Hotel, Experts Say.

Layer textiles.

stack of blankets on bed
Shutterstock/Kostikova Natalia

Sometimes the key to creating a cozy home atmosphere is making yourself physically cozier within it. By placing throw blankets and other warming home goods around your seating areas, you're immediately adding elements of functional comfort and style.

"Combine different textures of blankets, throws, and pillows that you already have," advises Mitchell. "Mix and match patterns and materials to create a visually interesting and inviting atmosphere. You can drape a textured blanket over the back of your sofa or layer cushions with different fabrics for a cozy look."

Cook comfort foods.


Grandi says one final way to embrace the season is to make your kitchen the heart of your home.

"Prepare hearty, aromatic meals that not only nourish but also fill your home with the comforting aroma of winter comfort food. This culinary experience adds an extra layer of coziness to your home without requiring any new purchases," she says.

Depending on your personal tastes, this could mean preparing a seasonal stew, roasting a chicken, or baking cookies—whatever gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling of joy, comfort, or nostalgia for winters past.

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Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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