My niece Rylee is a snuggler. Her nickname as a baby was “Smush” because she would smush her perfectly round head deep into your neck when you held her. She was an early talker, and her vocabulary even at 3 is pretty ridiculous. It came as no surprise that once she could communicate, she was eager to voice her pleasure when it came time for a snuggle.
“It’s so cozy Aunt Mel. So cozy! Here’s a blanket. Here’s Billbo (her lovie, which is literally a throw pillow OMG). Let’s snuggle.”
Kid is on to something. And in this hustle culture, it’s important to remind ourselves that it’s okay to stop, snuggle up, and get cozy every once in a while. It’s totally allowed! ESPECIALLY when it’s so damn cold outside and it gets dark at like, IDK, noon?
So today I’m sharing 4 easy ways to make your living room cozy, by adding warmth, softness, and general snuggly things.
Cozy Living Room Idea No. 1 – Reading Chair
If you have a living room, you most likely have a sofa. But do you have other chairs? Do you have a perfectly cozy chair and ottoman designated specifically for reading? If yes, excellent job! But if you said no, that’s okay because that’s where we’re gonna start.
DENVER CHAIR & A HALF IN JADE VELVET – $1,098.00 – ANTHROPOLOGIE
MOROVA OTTOMAN – $298.00 – ANTHROPOLOGIE
BETANIA SIDE TABLE, HOURGLASS – $328.00 – ANTHROPOLOGIE
MALCOM FLOOR LAMP – $148.00 – ANTHROPOLOGIE
PARLOUR CHAIR IN LEXI SALT AND PEPPER – $899.00 – CB2
PARLOUR OTTOMAN IN LEXI SALT AND PEPPER – $499.00 – CB2
CARVED WOOD SIDE TABLE – $395 – WILLIAMS-SONOMA HOME
REYNOLD FLOOR LAMP – $299.00 – CB2
BEDFORD CHAIR IN PERFORMANCE LINEN BLEND, IVORY WITH EBONY LEG AND STANDARD CUSHIONS – $2,095.00 – WILLIAMS-SONOMA HOME
FAIRFAX SQUARE OTTOMAN IN PERFORMANCE LINEN BLEND, IVORY WITH ANTIQUE BRASS – $995 – WILLIAMS-SONOMA HOME
WOOLSEY ACCENT TABLE – $853 – POTTERY BARN
GRANDVIEW FLOOR LAMP WITH CONE SHADE IN OIL-RUBBED BRONZE – $374.00 – REJUVENATION
LOTUS PETITE LOW CHAIR AND A HALF IN NORDIC SEA – $1,449.00 – CRATE & BARREL
LOTUS PETITE MODULAR LOW OTTOMAN IN NORDIC SEA – $849.00 – CRATE & BARREL
FLOATING DISCS SIDE TABLE IN DARK WALNUT – $159 – WEST ELM
THEOREM POLISHED NICKEL FLOOR LAMP – $374.90 – CRATE & BARREL
There are a couple of crucial things to look for when you’re in search of a cozy chair, specifically for reading.
First, you want to get a fully upholstered chair that is fabric. Leather looks great, but it’s cold to the touch, and you tend to slip right on out of there after a few minutes with your feet up. Look for rounded edges and few hard corners – unless there is also a pillowy cushion involved.
Second, you probably want an ottoman that will support your full body, sort of like a chaise. The right size ottoman will stop you from slipping out, or having to prop your knees up.
Lastly, you want an adjustable floor lamp with a directional shade. It should move up and down and have a shade that adjusts back and forth to direct light right onto whatever you’re reading.
Cozy Living Room Idea No. 2 – Sofa Duvet
A few years back, I caught the flu on my flight out west visiting family. The night before I was to fly home, I came down sick. It was January. It was cold; I felt awful. So once I got back, I just decided to bring the twin guest bedding out onto the sofa and make myself a nest until I felt better.
Once I recovered, I washed the sheets and duvet cover, and then because I am lazy, I just left the duvet next to the sofa instead of stuffing it back in the linen closet.
It was the best lazy thing I’ve ever done.
It’s like wrapping yourself in a cloud and being lovingly caressed by the softest coziest thing imaginable. I giggle with glee every time I cover up with it. Throw blankets look cute on the back of your sofa, but they’re never quite big enough, and never quite warm enough.
Do yourself a favor, and get a Sofa Duvet. You won’t regret it.
PUDERVIVA DUVET COVER & PILLOWCASE, NATURAL, TWIN – $59.99 – IKEA
MEDIUM NATURAL KUBU CELESTE TOTE BASKET – $39.99 – WORLD MARKET
JÄTTEVALLMO DUVET COVER AND PILLOWCASE, WHITE, BLUE, TWIN – $24.99 – IKEA
ZUZU ROUND HANDWOVEN BASKET – $49.95 – CRATE & BARREL
VINTERJASMIN DUVET COVER AND PILLOWCASE, WHITE BEIGE TWIN – $14.99 – IKEA
InterDesign® Classico Basket in Chrome, LARGE – $19.99 – BED BATH & BEYOND
GULBJÖRK DUVET COVER AND PILLOWCASE, BLUE, TWIN – $29.99 – IKEA
SNIDAD BASKET – $27.99 – IKEA
All of these covers come from IKEA because nowhere else matches the quality for the price. I recommend this insert for each of the covers I’m showing. It’s $7! Can’t be beaten.
Cozy Living Room Idea No. 3 – Fire
Listen, if you have a working fireplace in your living room I am incredibly jealous of your living situation.
I do not have this, so instead, I have a large hurricane candle holder with a real big candle in it. It gets lit every night, year-round. It’s like a mini fire pit right there in the middle of the room.
Nothing beats actual flame – the led candles don’t even come close. And while I currently use a refillable butane candle lighter, I’m going to switch to matches. Butane is getting challenging to find locally, and matches are cheap and everywhere.
MID CENTURY LANTERN, WHITEWASHED, MEDIUM – $59 – WEST ELM
MARBLE MATCH STRIKER, WHITE – $48 – HUDSON GRACE
PEEK 10.75″ IVORY CERAMIC LANTERN – $39.95 – CRATE AND BARREL
MATCH STRIKER BY HANSELMANN POTTERY – $20 – ETSY
INDIRA HURRICANE, SMALL – $38 – ANTHROPOLOGIE
JADEN MATCHSTICK STRIKER & HOLDER – $39.00 – BALLARD DESIGNS
LARGE SPIROS HURRICANE, OILED BRONZE – $195 – WILLIAMS-SONOMA HOME
MATCH CLOCHE – $30 – $BALLARD DESIGNS
If I don’t have a homemade scented candle in the holder on my coffee table, I like to use these white unscented pillars from Target.
Cozy Living Room Idea No. 4 – Ambient Lights with Dimmers
Someday I’m going to go in-depth into proper lighting schemes for each room of your house. Today, to keep it simple, let me just say that you need more than just that overhead boob light you secretly hate and the tall too-bright floor lamp in the corner to make your living room seem cozy.
You need ambient light – the lights you see the glow from but don’t necessarily see the fixture from. ESPECIALLY in a rental situation, the only way to really manipulate the spaces into a cozy environment is to add ambient lighting in the form of uplights and backlighting.
Here’s how I do it in my living room:
On either side of these bookcases, I have a non-descript uplight with an LED bulb. On the right of this image, you can see how nicely it highlights the boxes of glassware I still haven’t put away from Thanksgiving.
Here you see the uplight in the right corner, adding some depth to the shelves, and the backlight on the tv which provides a perfect glow to watch a movie by. Also, my finger in the upper right corner because I am a professional.
A – UPLIGHT:
HAMPTON BAY 6 3/5″ WHITE UPLIGHT FLOOR LAMP – $11.98 – HOME DEPOT
B – BACKLIGHT:
DIODER LED 4-PIECE STRIP SET – $24.99 – IKEA
C – WALL DIMMER:
LUTRON DIVA 150W SINGLE-POLE / 3-WAY WHITE LED DIMMER WITH WALL PLATE – $29.97 – LOWE’S
D – AUTOMATED SYSTEM:
PHILIPS HUE WHITE A19 LED 60W EQUIVALENT DIMMABLE SMART WIRELESS LIGHTING STARTER KIT (2 – 2700K BULBS & BRIDGE) – $69.97 – HOME DEPOT
LED lighting is like, a WHOLE THING.
It can get complicated, very quickly. Simply buying my recommendation is going to be the easiest thing to do here. These are my favorite fixtures and dimmers, the ones I buy again and again for myself and for clients.
But to run it down for you, the basic words you need to know are “Lumens” (sometimes listed as “output”), which is how bright the blub is, and “Kelvin” (sometimes listed as temperature), which is what color the light is. For this situation, where we want warm, cozy light with a general brightness, you want to start with a 600 to 800 lumen (L) bulb that is 2700 Kelvin (K).
Watts are fairly meaningless when it comes to LED, as the equivalents don’t really match up, and aren’t regulated between manufacturers. LED regulations are few and far between. It’s easiest to get all of your bulbs from the same manufacturer to prevent mismatches in color and output. Different brands will even dim differently. Phillips, GE, and Cree are all good quality brands with broad bulb offerings. And FYI – almost every super affordable off-brand bulb you find on Amazon is not worth ordering. (I’ve tried them all.)
Lastly, you also need to know the base size of the bulb. A typical table lamp with a shade uses an A19 (or Type A) base to screw into the lamp socket – as do the uplights I’ve recommended here. If you’re not sure, take the old bulb, or the entire fixture, with you to the store to match it up.
Don’t make yourself sick…
Most importantly, you have to make sure that all the K numbers are the same for whatever bulbs you’re buying throughout the entire room – including the led backlights. Lumens can be dimmed, but Kelvin cannot be changed unless you buy a specifically listed color changing bulb ($$$). Mixing Kelvin numbers can actually affect you physically, giving you headaches and making your stomach upset. Our brains don’t like it.
Trust me, 2700K – what most manufacturers call Warm White, is the coziest most “natural” light, and then every fixture should go on a dimmer.
Setting the mood…
Dimmers are the magic tool that can set the mood for any situation. The wall switch I’ve recommended above is incredibly easy to install and can make those overhead lights you can’t do anything about seem downright dreamy.
Back in the incandescent only days, you could find cheap, high-quality plug-in dimmers at a bunch of places. But LEDs don’t dim the same way that incandescents do. Now that LEDs are all you can buy, to get dimmer function, you need to make sure that your bulbs are dimmable to start with and then either plug the lamp into a dimmer wall switch, or go with an automated/WIFI system.
We use the Philips Hue system for both dimming and automation throughout our house and have been extremely satisfied with everything except the prices. It’s an investment, to be sure, but one that has made us so much more comfortable in our home. Worth every penny.
So now you know what I know when it comes to making your living spaces cozy cozy. Take it from Rylee, and never miss an opportunity to snuggle up with the coziest of furniture, blankets & lighting.
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