Winter interior design

We all know how to make a home FEEL warm – it involves practical things like double glazing, wall insulation and efficient central heating.

But how do you make a home LOOK warm?  How do you give it that cosy feeling that looks good all the year round, but is particularly suitable for the winter months?

That’s where your practical side has to take a (cosy) back seat, and allow the artsy side of you to step forward...

1. Warm textures

Think of it like this – no one wears a metal scarf. So decorate your home with the textures that look as if they’d be warm to wear.

Use lots of knitted textures in cushions, throws, door stops, draught excluders. Faux fur is also very effective for adding warmth. Fill your home with things you would want to touch, whether it’s wood or fabric. And keep your feet warm not just with slippers, but with carpets, rugs and floor runners.

Contrast and layer material finishes, such as a leather sofa, a deep-pile wool rug and a wooden coffee table. The different textures offset each other for a beautiful, luxurious effect.

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2. Warm colours

Dark green, deep purple, red, orange and brown – these are the colours that are good for making a room feel cosier.

In the colder months lots of white, light blue, light green and light purple make a room feel bigger and therefore colder.

So if you use a light or neutral colour, balance it with some bold “splashes” – such as dark blue, red and deep green. If you do this with accessories like cushions, you can even swap things around as the seasons change.

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3. Warm patterns

It’s true that patterns feel warmer than plain expanses of colour, so introduce patterns to your planning whenever you can.

The surprise hit this winter is tartan, available in cushions, throws, duvet covers and even a Vivienne Westwood plum and green wallpaper, if you’re feeling bold. Folksy is also a hit this winter, with a variety of Nordic-influenced “homespun” designs.

In a bedroom setting, try changing your bed linen to a seasonal shade, or a cosy “winter warmer” pattern at the same time as you increase the duvet tog-rating.

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4. Warm scents

You probably know the old estate agent’s trick of making a house seem more welcoming to a potential buyer by unleashing the smell of freshly-made coffee. But it’s surprising how few people forget their noses when they’re decorating.

Perfect scents make, erm, perfect sense for winter. They would include cinnamon, cookie dough, pine, plum, spiced apple and orange in candles, oils, reed diffusers or heated potpourri.

And don’t forget the power of all those textures we mentioned earlier – the smells of wood and fabric, especially when they’re new.

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5. Warm Fireplace


Don’t just light the fire, make it a focal point.  Put some eye catching accessories on the mantelpiece, and build up the hearth with beautiful ornaments (if the fire’s on) or beautiful plants (if the fireplace is purely decorative).


Put a rug in front of the fireplace, add your favourite armchair nearby and perhaps a side table for a mug of cocoa – or a glass of whisky – and you’re saying “cosy” without a word being spoken.


Remember “vintage” and “rustic” are cosy, winter words, whereas “modern” and “factory-made” just aren’t. That’s why pubs have old, wooden agricultural tools on the wall.


6. Warm lighting


We all know that lighting make a difference to any room – and yet very few of us make the effort to actually change the lighting between summer and winter.


Switch ‘cool’ light bulbs for ‘warm’ ones and even switch light shades if you’re after a more dramatic effect. Having candles at varying heights is good too, as it casts different, subtly changing light and looks more appealing. Just make sure they’re out when you are. 


Lamps or even fairy lights inside is a great way to make a room cosier – main lights cast a harsh brightness, whereas “local” lights are a great way to add warmth and ambience.

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7. Warmer by design

“Open plan” is very modern of course, but it’s not necessarily conducive to the cosiness you want on a winter’s day.

Re-design your space in winter by using furniture like a settee or a sideboard to deliberately create smaller spaces out of a large one. Believe it or not, demand for screens is on the up, as they allow visual separation of open-plan rooms.

Cunning lighting can also help to separate a cosy sitting room, for example, from the bright lights you want in a kitchen.