I don’t have an interior decorator gene. If you ask me how to go about making a room more cozy, I would say add some lively conversation and a 12-year-old Scotch. Throw rugs, overstuffed sofas, and earth tones are all above my pay grade. However, having said that, I am intrigued that there are certain homes that just seem to have that certain cozy je ne sais quoi, and so I talked to some Vineyard decorators and architects to find out why that is.
Gil Walsh of Gil Walsh Interiors responded that a fireplace with the fire crackling, along with stacks of books and periodicals, was a good place to begin. Or, he suggested, having a pan simmering with cinnamon sticks and cloves on your cooktop, or a scented candle burning. He also suggested having fluffy carpets, billowy traverse draperies, and lots of stuffed, upholstered furniture pieces.
Lisa Pyden of Lisa Pyden Design wrote, “There’s nothing better than a crisp New England fall day, and no month that I love better than October on Martha’s Vineyard. I look forward to putting away the summer decor, and here are a few things that I like to do to transition to the fall season:
“Pillow and throw blanket changeover. Put away the fun summer colors and bring out the rich plaids, mohair fabrics, and velvet trims in neutral colors, with a good dose of plum, caramel, winter ivory, and rich gray. “Lighting can make a room feel more cozy. If a lamp has a dimmer switch, all the better. Love the warmth that low, evening lighting, in several spots, brings to a room — lightbulbs in the 2200 to 2700 Kelvin temperature scale, or dimmable LED.”
Like Gil Walsh, Pyden felt that scent can add warmth to the home, and in her case, she likes apples sliced up with butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, flour, and oatmeal — true comfort food, and let the aroma fill the house.
When I asked George Crawford of Crawford Design Associates how to make a house more cozy, he wrote, “The quick answer is ‘A few throw pillows, gingham, scented candles, and a golden retriever’ — just kidding.”
He went on to say, “If there are larger spaces, then provide corners, nooks, or seating arrangements for more intimate gatherings. Bay windows and window seats are good for cozy. Spaces that can connect to the out-of-doors, visually or directly, tend to be cozier.
“Use of natural materials like wood and stone help, and materials that wear and age well also help with coziness; materials that tell a story, that we can relate to as humans, materials that are in scale with us.
“Lighting is also key. Provide enough general lighting that can be brightened for cleaning and looking for a lost part or puzzle piece, or dimmed for quieter times and to allow natural light to be the dominant feature. Lighting that reflects off of a wall or ceiling surface is good as ambient lighting, with task lighting where needed. Whatever the lighting, it should be toward the warm end of the lighting spectrum.
“Surrounding oneself with objects or collections that make you feel comfortable or that say something about who you are can also help; not too much of any one thing, but enough.
“Finally, keep it simple, don’t try to do too much in a single space or home; it’s a balancing act, and there are no rules.”
Julie Robinson of Julie Robinson Interiors wrote that creating comfort is surrounding yourself with colors, textures, and things that make you feel good.
“You can make your home more comfortable by using colors you like, or that make you feel more relaxed. Choose warmer colors (yellows, oranges, and reds) or earthier colors (browns and greens) during the autumn or winter, to counteract the colder outside temperatures or if you’re feeling gloomy. Small changes count: Add or change the pillows on your furniture to reflect these ideas. If you’re aiming for bigger changes, paint your walls.
“You want a comfortable chair that you can sit on to watch TV, with good lighting in case you’d like to read. Or a sofa that you can curl up on. Add a throw in a color you like, or in a fabric that makes you feel cozy.
“If you don’t have window treatments, add shades or curtains on windows so that you can close down at night, avoiding the black holes of windows reflecting the dark outside. To close a pair of drapes or blinds makes for an immediately cozier feel. If your room is very busy with pattern, choose a plain window treatment, as it will calm the busier surroundings, creating a comfortable balance.
“Decorate with art that moves you, and photos of those you love.”
So I’m starting to see that creating a cozy, more comfortable home is part a function of furniture, accessories, and design, part a function of atmospherics, like surrounding yourself with pictures of loved ones — or I might add, great conversation and a fine Scotch. Maybe I wasn’t so far off after all.