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Create a cold weather retreat you'll never want to leave.
When the seasons change, we naturally transition our closets from warm weather clothes to chunky sweaters and boots. But our homes really deserve a winter refresh, too. Cold temperatures outside call for a cozy retreat indoors.
As the weather gets colder, "Our immediate instinct is to lean into warmth and follow our internal pull towards the sights, sounds and even smells that we associate with comfort,” says interior designer Rachael Grochowski of architecture and interior design studio RHG A+D.
More often than not, comfort involves snuggling on the couch under a blanket. But there are other ways to usher a warm, inviting feeling into our homes.
To help create a soothing environment and increase our overall well-being, we talked to a variety of design experts for some easy and achievable tips and tricks. Read ahead for their advice on transitioning your home into a cozy den this winter. Just be careful, you may never want to leave the house.
Weave In Cozy Textures
“One of the easiest ways to transition your home from summer to fall [and winter] is to swap textiles for luxuriously thick, woven textures that read undeniably cozy,” says Heather Goerzen, Havenly’s design editor. Think: wool, boucle, shearling, faux furs, and even suedes. “A chunky throw over the end of a bed or a fur pillow can effectively transform an entire seasonal scene,” she says.
Light Up the Room
Candles are a great way to evoke a cozy mood. Inspired by the Danish concept of hygge, interior designer Megan Crawley of the namesake design studio likes to light candles in just about every room come cooler weather. But you have to get the scent right.
Every year, Crawley swaps her candle and diffuser fragrances from summery florals and fresh linen to spicier, warmer scents. Think: notes of citrus, clove, cinnamon, and everyone’s fall-favorite, pumpkin spice. Grochowski especially loves that burning candles activate multiple senses—sight, smell, and sound. “These elements each bring us into the present moment and give us a sense of gratitude for the friends and family that fill our home,” she says. “Because it's really the people we surround ourselves with that bring us the most warmth and happiness.”
Fake a Fireplace
Siting in front of a crackling fire is quintessential, but even a non-functional fireplace can evoke cozy vibes. That’s why New York based interior designer Nicole Arruda of Nicole Alexandra Design Studio put the charming element at the top of her apartment search wish list. However, when her perfect Manhattan apartment fell short, she got crafty and installed her own fireplace facade.
“After weeks of hunting for the perfect mantle, I stumbled across a budget-friendly, slightly beaten up one from Facebook Marketplace that I knew I could bring back to life,” she says. Arruda hired a TaskRabbit to deliver the mantle to her apartment, where she then gave it a good sanding and a fresh coat of Black Satin by Benjamin Moore, and voilà! The results are stunning and instantly made her apartment feel inviting and warm. And although it’s not functioning in the traditional way, the mantel is a decorative focal point that Arruda uses to hold books or pillar candles.
Layer Your Rugs
Now, if we all had endless budgets (and storage space) owning a rug for each season would be no big thing, but alas, this is the real world. Designer Lizzie McGraw, author of “Creative Style” has an easy and more economical solution. Just throw a great accent rug over your natural sisal or jute floor covering for an easy update. “The softness is welcoming and the warmth is great as we move into winter,” says McGraw, who is a big fan of Moroccan and vintage options.
Warm Up Your Palette
Take inspiration from the outdoors and lean into autumnal-inspired earth tones like trending browns, deep burgundies, forest greens, and dark, dusty blues, says Goerzen. “These hues cue a warmth and richness essential for fall [and winter] coziness.” Crawley also loves taking nature’s lead in design. For a recent project, the designer used rich ochre throw pillows to dress up a window seat. “It reminds me of the changing fall leaves,” she says.
Mix in Seasonal Prints
Goerzen says she loves to add prints inspired by classic seasonal wardrobe patterns, like plaid or buffalo check. The design expert is especially obsessed with this black plaid print from The Inside. “It’s so chic, storied, and perfectly moody for [cold weather],” she says. To keep the look feeling multi-dimensional versus typical farmhouse style, Goerzen recommends to balance the design scheme with more modern elements.
Keep a Throw Blanket (or Three!) Handy
Soft, cozy throw blankets in cashmere, wool, or even faux fur are must-haves in a living room, family room, or an outdoor patio during this time of year—especially for movie nights. “Just the sight and texture of a blanket is so inviting and it immediately makes friends and family want to cuddle up in them,” says Grochowski. “It also encourages everyone in the room to slow down, relax and just come into the present moment.”
Bring in the Branches
Both Goerzen and Grochowski love adding nature elements to the indoors with fresh-cut winter florals and especially branches in a tall vase. “This is a trending aesthetic for a reason,” says Goerzen. “It helps to draw the eye upward, adds a sculptural moment to a space, and really makes a statement.” The best part: You don’t have to go to a fancy florist, just forage a few branches from your own backyard.
Display Fresh Produce
“File this one under the ‘practical and pretty’ bucket,” says Goerzen. Instead of stashing your farmer’s market (or Instacart) haul of seasonal produce, the expert recommends displaying it on the kitchen island or as the centerpiece on the dining table in oversized serving bowls. She likes showcasing the usual apples, pears, squashes, and artichokes, as well as the more unexpected veggies like fennel and carrots. “I love using rustic wooden bowls or pottery for an organic aesthetic,” she says.
Home decor isn’t the only way to bring winter vibes into your setting. As mentioned before, all the senses come into play—not just sight and touch, but also sound, smell, and taste. “When it gets cooler, there's something about listening to a jazz artist, like Thelonius Monk, that feels warm and welcoming,” says Hudson Valley interior designer Delyse Berry of Upstate Down. Then, once the scene is set, Berry recommends breaking out a beautiful pot from Le Creuset or Staub and making something that takes all day to cook—filling your home with a rich and comforting aroma.
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