Neutral territory

After years of bright design and statement pieces the inside of our homes are about to get a lot more subdued

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The Independent Online

The parties are over, the nights are cold and dark: after the glitz and glimmer of December, January is a month for retreating, relaxing, recharging and, inevitably, spending more time at home.

And while summer invites colour and energy, at this time of year a calm, neutral space can be more soothing. You don't need to turn up the thermostat to keep things cosy indoors – a soft, neutral scheme with plenty of textured accessories can really deliver the snug factor.

Neutral need not mean cream or white schemes. Grey, taupe, mushroom and brown all work well and grey, in particular, will feel more sophisticated and contemporary than cream. To keep things feeling cosy, choose a warm grey with brown undertones – try Pavilion Gray or Light Gray from Farrow and Ball ( Subtle notes of accent colours such as sage, aubergine or mustard will pep things up.

Neutrals are far from boring when used well. The key is to mix tones and textures and use natural materials such as wood and leather to add interest. A cowhide rug on a wood floor, a length of natural silk draped casually over a curtain pole or a cable knit cushion and a sheepskin throw on a leather chair will all add visual interest and seriously ramp up the cosiness.

It's also worth investing in some well-chosen accessories, such as throws, rugs and cushions in warm textural fabrics. Be generous and pile them on: a sofa liberally covered with mohair cushions, knitted wool throws and sheepskin rugs is very inviting.

Lighting is important at this time of year too. Find a standing lamp for a dark corner, keep dinner intimate with a table lamp or fill a fireplace with candles to make a room feel cosy and homely. Add some metallic finishes into the mix. Copper, brass and bronze accents reflect light and add warmth on a dark winter's evening.