For most of us, home is a place of comfort and familiarity—or that’s what we want it to be, anyway. Whether you have a small space, high ceilings, or a vast open floor plan, the right design can turn any room into somewhere you want to spend time. If something about your current décor doesn’t give you the cozy feeling you’re after, or if you’ve just moved in and you want to set up a relaxing respite from the beginning, we have some design tips for creating a cozy living room.
What Makes a Living Room Cozy?
What is “cozy,” anyway? If you look up the definition, you’ll see it’s a feeling of warmth, relaxation, and comfort—but that can mean something different to everyone. When it comes to interior design, cozy usually describes spaces that make you want settle in with friends or family for good conversation, snuggle up with a blanket and a good book, or relax and unwind from daily stresses. Cozy living rooms come in all shapes and sizes, but they all make you want to stay a while.
Here are some ideas for how to make a living room cozy, no matter the size:
Focus on texture
When a room lacks coziness, it’s usually because the design feels flat. Make sure to include a variety of textures to create depth using any number of elements: wallpaper, gloss and matte finishes, fabric upholstery, leather, wood blinds, sheer curtains, blankets, pillows, rugs—anything that adds cozy contrast.
Choose the right color palette
Depending on the space and your preferences, any color palette can feel cozy; it’s all about the execution. Soft neutral tones, like beiges and browns, and rich tones, such as reds and oranges, add warmth. Cool colors, such as blues and greens and even gray and white, are calming and relaxing—just be sure to bring in texture or pops of warmer colors to keep it inviting rather than sterile.
Be thoughtful with furniture choices
Soft, plush sofas and chairs invite you to sink in and relax, while wood storage pieces, such as benches or console tables, add warmth and depth.
A big, overstuffed easy chair in a small space can create a claustrophobic or cluttered feeling, while the same piece in a large, open living room can be cozy and inviting. Take measurements, because size can be deceiving in a showroom versus your home.
Provide plenty of seating
When everyone has somewhere comfortable to sit, conversations last longer and quality time extends. Group seats together, in a circle or facing each other whenever possible, to encourage interaction.
Let there be lighting
Ideally, a living room would have lots of natural light, with window treatments that allow for controlled light filtering. But after the sun goes down—or for rooms that don’t see much daylight—good lighting is key. Recessed or track lighting with a dimmer switch provides function, while floor or table lamps and spotlighting can add to the cozy ambiance.
Incorporate natural elements
Nature inspires a serene feeling—use that to your advantage! Choose a wooden coffee table or shelving, add some houseplants, or install grass or bamboo shades to bring the great outdoors inside.
Define the space with an area rug
Not only can an area rug bring in additional colors and textures, it can also indicate subconsciously that “this is the comfort zone.”
Just add pillows
Soft, plush pillows create instant coziness. Choose throw pillows in coordinating colors and a variety of textures to add interest and depth to sofas and chairs. Who wouldn’t want to snuggle into a pile of pillows?
Ideas for Small Cozy Living Rooms
Whether you live in a small apartment or a modest house, you’ve probably used the word “cozy” as a euphemism to describe your tiny space. The trick to making small livings rooms feel cozy—and not just small—is all about using the space well.
Make a small living room feel cozy rather than cramped with these tips:
- Hang a large mirror to create the illusion of more space.
- Know the measurements of your space, and always measure a piece of furniture before you bring it home to make sure it will fit and won’t overwhelm the room.
- Add warm, snuggly throw blankets to the sofa or chairs.
- Decorate with framed family photos or other meaningful art.
- Choose functional furniture, such as an ottoman with storage space inside or side tables with drawers, to keep the room organized and uncluttered.
- Keep furnishings and décor smaller in scale for a more proportional feel.
- When choosing sofa or chairs, furniture with legs can create the illusion of more space—plus, the contrast of wooden or metal legs with upholstered seating adds cozy contrasting textures.
- Opt for a lighter or neutral palette to make the space feel more open and airy, then add bold or bright pops of color to add warmth and interest.
- Consider window treatments with clean, simple lines, such as blinds or shutters, to avoid visual bulk and allow in natural light.
How to Make a Large Living Room Feel Cozy
While too much space may not seem like a problem, a large living room can come across as cavernous and impersonal. To make a big living room feel cozier, it’s important to use the space thoughtfully. Choose proportional furniture; larger, overstuffed pieces can work well in a big space, but to preserve sightlines you may want to stick with lower profiles rather than something like a high wingback chair.
Group seating away from the walls
Group seating close together and away from walls to create a warmer, more intimate setting. What should you do with all that empty wall space? A console table or buffet table against the wall, along with some framed art above it, delivers function and style. Add texture and interest to the room with layered window treatments.
Create multiple cozy zones
If you living room is long or oddly shaped, create separate spaces for multiple cozy zones. Divide a long room with a chaise or bench, or float your sofa in the center of the room and add a console table behind it. Area rugs also work well to visually define spaces—try layering a smaller rug over a larger one, then add an armchair and side table for a cozy reading nook. A decorative screen can also be an effective visual cue for creating a cozy living area in large open floor plan.
Decorate with warm, rich colors
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of color. Large rooms feel cozier when decorated in warm, rich hues. Take advantage of existing wainscoting or add a chair rail create a two-tone wall by painting the walls one color below the wainscoting or chair rail and another above and to the ceiling. This can help a room feel more grounded and intimate. A dark accent wall can also add cozy contrast to a larger space.
Cozy Tips for Living Rooms with High Ceilings
High ceilings can be visually stunning—but they aren’t always ideal for making a living room feel cozy. For a warmer, more inviting living room, avoid the instinct to create a divide, which will only draw attention to how much space exists vertically.
Add ceiling-hung draperies
Hang long custom draperies at the ceiling, no matter where the top of the window stops, to create the illusion of a cohesive space.
Make a statement with your lighting
Take advantage of the extra height to add a statement light fixture, chandelier, or pendant light to bring warm lighting to the room and to make use of the space.
Hang an oversized gallery wall
Hang framed art pieces or photos floor to ceiling for a fun gallery wall that adds charming personality, or create a feature wall with shelving and books for the cozy home library you’ve always wanted.
Start your cozy living room makeover with custom window treatments from our blinds and shutter installers at Bloomin' Blinds. Request your free virtual or in-home consultation today!
About the Author: Karen McGuffin, Bloomin’ Blinds
Karen is the original founder of Bloomin’ Blinds. She has nearly 30 years of experience in the window treatment industry and is an expert in window covering sales, installations, and repair. In her free time, Karen enjoys traveling, volunteering at the local food bank, being an active in the chamber of commerce, and “cruising” through her neighborhood in her little blue and white polka-dotted golf cart she calls a buggy.