A cosy home doesn’t just keep us physically warm. It’s soothing for the soul – and many of us are feeling the urge to nest up in a safe, cosy haven more than ever right now.
“The additional stress and increased cost of living are making many people feel exhausted, fed up, depressed and anxious,” agrees Samantha Agbontaen, founder of affordable interior design company House Designer (housedesigner.net).
“Making our homes a cosy haven is known for its effect on improving our mood and wellbeing. It’s more important now than ever to explore the elements of interior design to uplift our mood and mental wellness.”
A cosy haven isn’t just an aesthetic – it’s a feeling – so let this guide how you create your space, whether you’re restyling a room, just making a few changes, or maximising little touches, like extra cushions, blankets and candles.
Agbontaen says it’s well established that interior design can “be effective in promoting improved wellbeing and psychological feeling”.
For many of us, the goal right now is to create a warm and uplifting effect, for our homes to feel like a “comfortable, relaxed, bright, and happy space”, she adds.
The likes of throws, blankets and curtains will all help keep our homes warm this winter, and the sensation can bolster us psychologically too.
“You may not think of a carpet or rug as a tool to benefit mental wellbeing, but the positive effects of feeling a luxurious pile underfoot has been measured by researchers. A study by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information found that walking on carpet triggers less stress simulators than walking on hard floor,” says Daniel Prendergast, interiors expert from The Rug Seller (therugseller.co.uk).
“A rug can, therefore, be a cost-effective way of adding warmth and texture to a hard floor. For ultimate cosiness, choose a tactile thick pile rug, like a shaggy-style faux fur. Knitted rugs are also extremely popular and will give you that mood-boosting feel of a cosy, knitted jumper.”
Bring on the colour
We may typically associate colour with summer, but there’s no rule against embracing the rainbow in winter too. After all, ‘dopamine dressing’ is all the rage right now, for our bodies and homes.
“If you are planning to update, don’t just gravitate to fuss-free beige – there are plenty of beautiful colours to inspire. One that stands out for me is Mulberry or a damson jam. It’s so romantic and can instantly lift your mood, and it’s trans-seasonal, meaning it will take you from Indian summer through to the depths of winter, enveloping you like a warm hug,” says designer Avalana Simpson (avalanadesign.co.uk).
“Not brave enough to paint your walls with it? Add accents within your decor instead. Try faux botanicals featuring damson hydrangeas, or add rosy cushions framed with gold. Rich, dark greens bring a deep sense of fulfilment and joy and it’s the colour of the moment for autumn/winter, especially for creating luxurious bedrooms,” Simpson adds.
“A restful sleep is so important for our mind and body, and layering textiles and pattern can all help. Green is perfect for adding light and shade to encourage a restful sleep. Team a dark green wall with flecks of gold and copper for added luxe, or choose deep, inky charcoal colourways, evoking a sense of night-time.”
For something brighter, Simpson loves the idea of “lifting” a room with “a contrast of warm pink tones, corals and sunset orange”.
Prendergast agrees “colour and pattern play a key role in how interiors make you feel” and nods to this season’s trending shades. “Golden yellows, soft oranges, muted reds, browns with yellow undertones and honeyed neutrals – all are great options to give you that cocooning aurora, which will instantly give your wellbeing a boost,” he says. “A bold pattern will help to bring in a larger room, making it feel cosier.”
Feed the sensesAgbontaen says: “My favourite way of creating cosiness is using scented candles and essential oils. I am obsessed with my diffuser pods. There are several oils for wellbeing, which I feel are amazing.”
According to ConservatoryLand (conservatoryland.com), who analysed Google data, the most popular scented candles include sage, fig and lavender. Cinnamon and clove are especially suited to winter – but you don’t have to go with seasonal-sounding scents.
Sylvia James, interior designer at HomeHow, who also worked on the research, says: “The act of smelling scented candles can help to stimulate the limbic system, a part of the brain associated with emotions and memories.
“Scented candles can promote the release of dopamine and serotonin, which can help to regulate our moods. Candles are also great for helping us feel warm, relaxed, and cosy,” James adds.
Of course, candles also create a cosy atmosphere via soft lighting effects – but there are other ways to harness the power of scent.
“Visit your local florist or forage for some seasonal scented foliage, such as eucalyptus or pine, which can then be arranged in a vase and positioned in the home,” says Hannah Martin, founder of Scent + Remedy (scentandremedy.com).
“The warmth of a fire can encourage the release of the scent and the oils, which in turn can encourage wellbeing through their aromatherapy benefits. For example, did you know eucalyptus is well known for its calming and healing properties?”
Foliage, fresh or dried flowers and foraged finds like pinecones and artful twigs will also tap into our connection with nature – taking cosy hibernation mode to the max.