Want your home to feel warm and inviting this autumn and winter? Our guest blogger Lucy Searle, Editor-in-Chief of RealHomes.com tells you five sure-fire ways with the latest home trends.
Pic credit: Dulux
1. Rethink an all-white colour scheme.
All-white walls might make your rooms feel fresh, bright and spacious, but in winter they can make them feel cold, too - especially if they’re north-facing. Warm paint tones are a hot trend for the year ahead - just look at Dulux’s Colour of the Year, Spiced Honey (shown here), chosen expressly for its comforting, cocooning effect when it’s on the walls. Whether you love the colour or not, there’s no denying that any shade on the earthy spectrum is a win-win for making your rooms feel cosy and inviting.
Pic credit: Arteriors
For rooms where you want to make the most of daylight, lighter tones are a better choice; or you can simply limit the deeper colour you’ve chosen to below dado rail level, and put a lighter shade above. Just spending evenings in that particular room? Dare to go for deeper, bolder shades all over, but remember to test what they look like under lamplight, which is when you’ll mostly see them - and, remember that lamp-lit warm tones glow even more vibrantly than in daylight.
Not sure you’re brave enough to go all-in? Splash a warm shade on a feature wall - the chimney breast is an easy option - and feel the instant warmth in your room. Want a contemporary feel? Deep, dramatic colours will look more modern, especially if the paint shade is carried over to your woodwork - skirting, dado and picture rails - too. Want a look that’s got 2019 written all over it? Paint your chosen colour on the ceiling as well - but bear in mind that it’ll make low ceilings feel lower still.
Pic credit: Grandeco Botanical Leaf Design Wallpaper
2. Add texture to your walls
Painting pale walls with warm colours is a quick and easy way of making a room feel cosy, but it’s not the only job on your hygge-to-do list. Adding texture will help the room feel way more interesting, especially if it has few period features. How? You could put up wall cladding, whether tongue-and-groove planks or MDF panels that you can paint in a warm colour. Too DIY-heavy? Texture needn’t be touchable - it can be perceived. In other words, you can cheat with a wallpaper that has a textured effect to create the look of another material - wood planks, panelling, brick, even books.
Which walls to adorn with texture? The same basic rules that apply for paint colours work for texture, but bear in mind that some materials and finishes will advance visually - meaning your walls will look nearer and your rooms smaller - while others will recede, making your rooms look bigger. What do I mean by that? Here are a couple of basic textural rules...
Pic credit: Little Greene
Basic rule 1: Anything with a random texture in a deep colour, such as a dark, heavily grained wood, will have the ‘advancing’ effect, so use it in small rooms cautiously - and bear in mind that you can get a similar cosy effect and lots of textural interest but a more spacious feel by choosing a more subtly grained, paler wood.
Basic rule 2: Anything with a regular or graphic texture or pattern in one colour, usually but not always on the lighter end of the colour spectrum, will make a room look larger: think smart, squares or rectangles of wall panelling painted in a light-reflecting (if warm) shade.
Pic credit: California Shutters
3. Dress your windows
In autumn and winter, when it’s cold and/or wet outside, you never truly feel cosy unless your windows are properly dressed. What to use? You might think I have ulterior motives (I don’t) but my entire house - every single window - is kitted out with shutters. Why choose them over curtains? Actually, I might choose them as well as curtains, but I’d never be without shutters for a whole host of reasons.
First: they look good, autumn, winter, spring and (eventually) summer, from both indoors and, for that all important kerb appeal, outdoors, too.
Next (and this is vital in autumn/winter): they’re as effective at keeping out draughts as double-glazing, so your room will feel, as well as look, cosy.
Then... the pattern the slats create, both open and closed, are a good source of texture (vital in a paint-only room in particular).
Plus, of course, you needn’t choose them in all-white like I have: they come in a variety of paint colours that you can opt for to create a co-ordinated or contrasting scheme.
Pic credit: Carpetright
4. Revamp your flooring
It’s not just about how your floor looks - how it feels underfoot contributes to the hygge effect, too. So, while beautiful floorboards - whether lime washed to give you a Scandi feel, honey-toned for a trad feel, or stained a deep, dark shade for a contemporary appeal - can introduce lots of texture into your room, they’ll feel a little cold underfoot and won’t give you the cosy look you’re after.
So what are the choices? Wall-to-wall carpet is having a trend revival, with dark colours and graphic patterns just as fashionable as natural materials, such as sandy-toned sisal or jute. However, carpet’s not a practical choice for every room - and some of us (me included) like to switch up our decor on a regular basis, which is easy to do if you can swap rugs between rooms.
Pic credit: Perch & Parrow
What to consider when buying a rug for the hygge effect? It’s size is all important - ideally, if you take a classic living room seating layout, the front legs of your sofa and armchairs should be able to sit comfortably on the rug. Where to put the rug? Centrally in a room is ideal - or beneath a particular piece of furniture can work, whether a large coffee table or beneath a dining table in an open-plan kitchen diner living space (yes, kitchen rugs are a thing). The deeper the pile the better for hygge appeal, but this will only suit TV-dinner-free living areas and bedrooms.
Pic credit: Carpetright
Rug not an option? As long as you get your flooring’s colour choice right, whether you’re picking tiles, a vinyl (as shown here), a carpet or rug, you can add warmth with hard flooring. Be sure you like the shade though because, unlike paint or a rug, wall-to-wall fixed flooring’s not so easy to change.
Pic credit: Furniture Choice
5. Layer up
Finally, accessories. Whether you’re a fan of minimalist style or love a cluttered look, there are a few things you can’t do without when creating a cosy look for your rooms. Rugs are one, but you’ll also need throws (in strokeable faux fur or chunky knits); cushions (unmatching but complementary is better for the relaxed feel you’re going for - the more co-ordinated a room is, the more formal it tends to look); pictures on the wall (yes, really, this counts as layering - try a gallery wall like the one in the room above); and textural details, such as basketware. You’re done. All you need to do now is ensure the lighting is low, the fire is on, you’ve got your feet up... and enjoy.
Lucy Searle is Editor-in-Chief of RealHomes.com, specialising in homes, property, style and interior design.
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