Designers Share 40 Ways to Make Your Living Room Cozy

Whether you're working with a small space or just want to give your great room a more intimate vibe, a few of our favorite designers share inspiration (and practical design tips) for creating a cozy living room. Master that living room aesthetic with these expert tips and tricks.

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By: Allie Holcomb King, Maria Conti, and Amanda Lecky

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Layer In Luxe Fabrics

"The addition of lusher, richer textures that complement existing decor is an instant way to make any room feel that much cozier," says interior designer Caitlin Murray of Black Lacquer Design. "Fur, velvet and Mongolian lamb are my favorite fabrics to layer for that cuddled-up vibe. The great thing about these materials is that a little bit here and there can completely transform the feel of a room," she says. Her advice for incorporating these materials in your own living room? "Add a velvet pillow to a chair, or toss a faux-fur throw over your sofa for an instant dose of cozy."

Acknowledge Historic Architecture

Working with an old home and a contemporary design aesthetic? Instead of demolishing period architecture, consider hanging on to it — for cozy’s sake. Designer Rafe Churchill of Hendricks Churchill LLC explains how old and new work together to create a sense of comfort. "We love old interiors, especially when using contemporary furnishings. We believe there’s some kind of nesting effect that occurs between a historic house and its modern interior," Churchill says. This gorgeous living room is no exception. "By keeping the existing millwork and paneling and then furnishing with contemporary pieces, this living room seems to almost acknowledge the history of the house and even finds comfort in it."

See More Photos: 20 Charming Design Features Found in Older Homes

Take a Holistic Approach

Interior designer Sarah Barnard takes a holistic approach to design, incorporating healthy, natural materials to promote wellness. In this living room, she used eco-friendly furnishings, raw fibers and organic textiles. "Creating a restorative environment begins with sustainable choices," she says. "Even the smallest decisions matter and can have profound effects on our health and the environment." Barnard also incorporated the homeowner’s treasured collection of mineral specimens in this space, which fits with her overall design mantra. "Live with what you love," she urges. "Surround yourself with beauty and positive energy."

Choose a Sizable Sectional

Nothing says welcome like an oversized sectional sofa. It’s the perfect tool for creating an immediate sense of casual comfort. Choose wisely, and your sectional can simultaneously establish coziness and sophistication, like the emerald green stunner in this living room by Jette Creative. "We wanted it to be a livable room for family nights watching TV, but also a space to have company — a space where the kids could roll around, but also [a space] that could allow for adult gatherings," says Jesse DeSanti, principal designer of Jette Creative. "We were able to bridge those through the deep, long sectional that really grounds the room in its size, color and softness."

See More Photos: 30 Sofas Made for Hours of Lounging

Opt for Oversized Ottomans

In lieu of a classic coffee table, try an upholstered ottoman to make your space more comfortable and livable. Interior designer Jenn Feldman explains why she made the choice in this family-friendly living room. "We opted for an oversized upholstered ottoman with a soft silhouette that could easily be used for entertaining needs, adults to rest their feet on, or for smaller children to jump and play on," she says. "This ottoman packs a powerful design punch with a gorgeously soft performance fabric that coordinates with the tonal blue on the walls, art and other textiles in the space. The result? A living room that will make you want to kick up your feet and stay awhile!"

Create a Conversation Circle

Try the furniture-arranging trick that’s worked for ages: the conversation circle. It doesn’t have to feel overly formal or outdated. Here, Jenn Feldman created a conversation circle that feels casual and inviting. "Instead of using a traditional sofa-and-chair layout, we opted for four oversized, upholstered swivel chairs that created a comfortable, laid-back conversation circle, all while keeping the room polished and pulled together in grown-up whites," Feldman says.

Warm With Natural Wood

Interior designer Ginger Curtis of Urbanology Designs says natural wood is a go-to when she’s trying to make a large, open living area feel warm and inviting. "The use of natural wood in a living space not only acts as a decorative or functional feature, but it can provide balance by adding texture and warmth," she says. "It has an organic element that reminds you of nature and brings a cozy, unfussy look and feel to a contemporary space." She suggests installing large beams, plank walls or raw oak floors for major impact or a handmade wood table as an accent piece.

Make the Fireplace a Focal Point

If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, let it be the star of the show. A fireplace is inherently cozy, so by designing your space around it, you ensure a sense of automatic comfort. Carefully curate the accessories and artwork that surround it to draw the eye in, like interior designer Lexi Westergard did here. "My client wanted to have a picture of her kids above the fireplace, so we layered some vintage art pieces around the space to help create a more relaxed and curated look," Westergard says. She explains that the sconces helped complete the vignette and the space as a whole. "They gave the option to add mood lighting at night and further enhanced the ability to create the perfect, cozy space."

See More Photos: 17 Hot Fireplace Designs

Use Large-Scale Photos

Don’t be afraid to incorporate photos in a bold way. Meaningful photography can create intimacy in a way that basic artwork can’t. Large-scale, black-and-white photos work especially well from a design standpoint. Interior designer Wendy Blackband says the horse photo in this living room brought both color and personality to the space. "The black and white photo added the bright white. [It’s] beautiful but also quirky," she says.

Include Rustic Accents

When working with white walls, like the ones in this living room from Lexi Grace Design, it’s important to layer in warmth. Grace's advice on how to do it? "Any element that brings the outdoors in is a great way to add contrast and a bit of coziness to a bright, white room," she says. Here, a reclaimed wood mantel and a tree stump turned side table do the trick.

Try a Tonal Palette

Interior designer Sarah Stacey suggests trying a tonal palette with a minimal use of pattern to achieve a comfortable, peaceful living space. "I think people are so busy, and this type of design is relaxing and calming. It allows for you and for your eyes to rest," she says. To get this look, Stacey recommends swapping out patterned draperies and pillows for solids. Find pattern in rugs or architectural elements, instead. "Pick one color and choose varying shades of it," she says. "Then, venture into the closest color on the wheel for a little kick, but keep it in the same tone to allow for a smooth flow and transition."

Radiate With a Statement Floor Lamp

Light is elemental in creating living room ambience. What type of light emits that soft, warm glow you crave when snuggled up on the sofa? A lamp, of course. Instead of sticking to basic table lamps, interior designer Kirsten Krason of House of Jade Interiors advises an arc floor lamp. "We love using statement floor lamps to fill up visual space and draw your eye in," she says. "A layered floor lamp with a side table creates so much more visual interest than just a side table with a table lamp."

Toss In Plenty of Pillows

Can you really ever have too many pillows? They’re an instant (and relatively budget-friendly) way to bring texture, pattern and color to your living area — all in the blink of an eye! Take a cue from this gorgeous living room by Jenn Feldman, and go for a layered look. The end game? "A sofa and a room that no one ever wants to leave!" Feldman says.

Layer Rugs

It’s a no-brainer that a rug-clad floor is cozier than a bare one, but have you ever considered layering multiple rugs? Interior designer Breeze Giannasio is all for it. She says it works especially well to highlight one specific area within a larger living space. Creating zones within a spacious room encourages a more intimate atmosphere. "Here, I loved the idea of layering the sheepskin to bring in texture and create contrast with the chair swing to really highlight its suspension," Giannasio says.

Fill Your Bookshelves With Personality

Bookshelves are a great place to add your favorite books, artwork photos to bring a personal touch into your living space. In this living room, a patterned cement tile fireplace is surrounded by built-in bookcases that display the homeowners' favorite books and accessories.

See More Photos: 20 Mantel and Bookshelf Decorating Tips

Paint the Walls a Dark Color

Though all-white walls are still ultra-popular, deep, dark-hued interiors are on the rise. Dark walls — or even just a dark accent wall, like the one in this eclectic living room — work to create a sense of intimacy within a living space. Not convinced? Interior designer Noz Nozawa explains why it works: "While it can seem like dark paint in a living room would feel heavy or dim, in practice, it can be the opposite! In a room where the walls are dark but the trim is light, the contrast brings focus to the windows and the light from the windows, creating a room that feels bold and dramatic, but still bright!"

Try Textured Paneling

"Enhancing warmth doesn’t always require a trip to the color wheel. Rich textures and interesting architectural details infuse warmth just as nicely!" says interior designer Marie Flanigan. "My goal was to keep things light and bright in this sophisticated guest home, so I opted for a soothing white hue and delivered warmth through the use of a texture-rich wall application," she says of this white-paneled living area. "Don’t be afraid to reimagine the classics. I fell in love with the way oversized reveals offer a clean, contemporary take on traditional shiplap paneling, creating a space that feels both homey and delightfully unexpected."

Incorporate Lush Layers

The addition of houseplants brings color and life into this living room. This space proves houseplants can be cozy. It's time to work on your green thumb.

See More Photos: 20 Forgiving Houseplants

Incorporate Fresh Greenery

So, you’re pretty sure you’ll never have a green thumb? That’s okay, because fresh-cut greenery can bring the same sense of warmth and comfort that houseplants do. Interior designer Amy Zolin says the best way to incorporate greenery is to first consider your space and then consider what’s just outside. For this living room in Redding, Connecticut, she created a coffee table arrangement of blueberry bush branches. "I selected the material because of its simplicity in form and the reference of what grows on the land. Bringing the outside in is a key element to our design philosophy," Zolin explains. "This room is casual in nature but also very large in scale, and the branches filled the space of the 10.5-foot ceilings without calling too much attention away from the view overlooking the property."

From: Amy Zolin

Invest in Practical + Comfy Furniture

When designing the hangout hub of the home, it’s essential to consider the practicality and comfort of furniture. Don’t worry — this can be done with style in mind. Take a cue from designer Sandie Tsai’s fabulous yet practical living space. "We had wanted to do a nice leather sofa, but since this is a rental apartment, we didn't know how long we'd be here or where we would end up next," Tsai says. "We ended up with this sofa from Ikea. That sofa has definitely been loved on!" Tsai also used two stools instead of a coffee table to ensure the space was flexible.

Turn to Texture

The key element to keep in mind when designing a neutral living space? Texture, texture, texture. "Coziness can be achieved even in a restrained palette as here, where we used white and a range of neutral browns, but texture is key," says designer Breeze Giannasio. "Velvet, chenille, hide and linen create a tactile experience that feels as good as it looks."

Enhance With Enriching Hues

It may seem counterintuitive, but deep, rich colors can actually be more effective choices in small spaces (or anywhere you want to create character and add atmosphere) than the pale, reflective colors. "If the space is small, treat it like a jewel box,” says designer Ann Lowengart. "Paint the walls an impactful hue, use high-gloss for vibrancy, add pieces with varying textures and layer in a lot of accessories. That's all sure to add up to a dramatic, fun and cozy space."

See More Photos: 40 Living Room Color Palettes You've Never Tried

Add Interest With Layers

Interior designer John McClain’s go-to move for bringing coziness into his living room designs? Layering. McClain says, "Layering materials creates interest and simultaneously comfort. From a sumptuous (yet durable) sofa fabric, layer on texture and color with toss pillows, throws, area rug, ottomans, and really important: greenery! Adding something organic in a space always makes it more relaxed. Oh, and a cute fuzzy pup never hurts."

Bring In Bold Contrast

Interior designer Connie Vernich says contrast is king when creating eye-catching, cozy designs. She says, “contrasting textures elevate a room like no other! The rich grasscloth on the walls, the sheen of the warm leather, and the softness of the velvet on the sofas create a welcoming and alluring feel as you enter this room. Quieter spaces such as a library or reading nook are the perfect places to try a mix of bolder textures."

Rearrange Your Furniture

“The key to creating cozy living rooms is creating intimate seating areas to promote conversation," says interior designer Natalie Myers. Myers shows how it's done in this elegant and effervescent family room, where she nestles a roomy sectional and stylish accent chair across from the central fireplace and grand piano. The results offer homeowners a cozy space to curl up for a private concert or partake in fireside conversations with friends.

Strike a Balance

This sundrenched family room strikes a stunning balance between elegance and everyday living. “This den is the main hang out spot in the home and we wanted it to be comfortable and inviting, but tailored at the same time," shares designer Connie Vernich. "In order to achieve this look we layered colors, textures, and patterns with the fabrics. The layering of the striped rug brings a nice pop of fun over the sisal beneath it and the pillows have a lot of texture to jazz up the neutral upholstery pieces. We also layered in touches of color as you can see with the green ottoman, pillows and greenery.”

Share Your Story

Cozy up your living room by showcasing sentimental family heirlooms and treasured tchotchkes from over the years. “Put pieces you love on display,” encourages interior designer Breeze Giannasio. “Our homes tell our story – what better way than to tell that story with collected and curated treasures that you love?”

Provide Plenty of Seating

According to designer John McClain, it is crucial select seating wisely in order to create a cozy living room — especially in an open floorplan home like this one. McClain explains, "Though this room is an open floorplan, an oversized, plush sofa or in this case, sectional, is the heartbeat of any comfy living room. Whether you prefer to sit in the corner command central of the sectional or to crash on side ottoman, make sure you provide plenty of seating options for everyone, no matter how long they plan to sit. Don't forget everyone's favorite impromptu perch, a wide sofa arm! Wide, flat sofa arms encourage a side saddled sit-a-minute moment that few can resist."

Choose Colors Wisely

There are endless options for furnishings online and now, more than ever, it's easy to become a little too color happy when outfitting your home. Interior designer Natalie Myers' top tip for ensuring your living space feels cozy rather than chaotic? Moderation. "I like picking one color story and applying it to all the pillows across the sofas for cohesion," she explains.

See More Photos: Top Living Room Color Palettes We're Loving Right Now

Keep it Light

The LifeStyled Company proves that you don't need bold colors to create an ultra-cozy (and stunning) living room design. "Clients often request comfort and coziness, without feeling heavy," Kristen Forgione says. "Some of our favorite cozy spaces all share global textiles, varying wood tones and mixed metal finishes, along with plush pillows and natural fill in upholstery for extra comfort."

Elevate With Accents

Coziness is found in the details. "When designing a space that needs to be both cozy and beautiful, we always make sure that the upholstery is comfortable and that the complimentary fabrics rise to the occasion," explains Miranda Cullen, co-founder of Duet Design Group. "In this particular space, rich saturated fabrics bring warmth and style and we added a marble table with a playful pattern helps to convey sophistication and character."

Soften the Space

Blackband Design's top tip for keeping your modern or contemporary furnishings from feeling icy and uninviting — use soft textiles and plush accents to balance harsh angles or streamlined silhouettes. “To keep our designs structured and sophisticated, we pair the soft goods with sleek furniture and finishes."

Get Glowing

An often overlooked factor when cozying up your living room - lighting. From Hollywood sets to your living room sofa — lighting is a main player in design and has the power to make everything and everyone look better. Designer Breeze Giannasio’s tip? "Having light coming from multiple sources (at least three!) creates mood, contrast and keeps everyone looking their best. Here we have floor lamps, overhead lights, natural light and sconces."

Read the Room

A good rule of thumb for creating a welcoming space? Create a living room design that caters to your family. "Always remember for whom and how a room will be used. This living room functions for a young family with three children, two cats and a puppy. Durable, yet comfortable fabrics and disaster proof finishes are the key to longevity of furnishings in a living room," says designer John McClain. "No one can feel truly comfortable if they have to worry about ruining items. Put your feet up and sit down wherever you like, its all good."

Display Family Photos

Open expanses of wall space can make any room feel empty and cold. To solve this problem in a family room, designer Kelly Brown took a very personal approach. "Hidden in a computer file, my clients had these beautiful family portraits taken by a very talented photographer. They were having a hard time deciding which ones they wanted to print and display, so instead of the dreaded task of picking and choosing, I suggested two gallery walls to fill up the empty spaces and showcase the warmth and love that was captured in them. Whether playing games on the huge dining table turned coffee table or sitting back on the oversized sectional to watch movies, it's a fun, bright, kid-friendly space they love sharing with family and friends."

See More Photos: Personalize Your Space With a Gallery Wall

Bring On the Blankets

The designers at Blackband Design encourage you to layer varied textiles and textures to create an inviting and comfortable lounge design. "Creating a cozy living space is all about layering textures. We source soft and plush pillow fabrics, smooth upholstery materials and always save room for a chunky throw.”

Go Natural

White walls have never appeared warmer than they do in this elevated and eclectic living room design. The secret to warming up the bare, snowy walls in your living room? Bring the outdoors, in. "Natural materials are your friend and breath life, soul, and yes, coziness into a space," explains interior designer Breeze Giannasio. "Rustic beams, oak floors, brick and jute layer in natural materials to the space."

Incorporate Art

Designer Amy Elbaum used rich color and texture — plus a show-stopping painting — to create warmth and richness in a small, architecturally undistinguished space. She explains, "in this small condo living room, we wanted to create a relaxing and intimate space for the client and their growing family. Plenty of comfortable seating upholstered in rich velvet and mohair combined with a patterned wool area rug give the room a warm, inviting feel. The built-in bookcases and multiple cocktail tables provide necessary storage and surface space to make a functional, yet cozy, room."

Create Comfort

Combining elegance and comfort in the same space is key, particularly when square footage is at a premium. "I wanted to give the homeowners a chic space, but keep it youthful, so they'd feel completely comfortable hanging out and relaxing there," says designer Jenny J. Norris of this compact living room. She adds: "The midcentury modern-inspired sofa paired with the swing-arm light lends just a touch of vintage, while the brass stools add a dash of glam. The arctic landscape photograph hanging above the sofa is so tranquil in this small space, especially juxtaposed with the graphic rug."

Establish Intimacy

Giving a space a sense of intimacy can pose a challenge, particularly when that space is as long and narrow as the one in this project. Designer Anna Braund began by creating a cohesive envelope for the entire space. "To give the rooms a seamless transition, and make them appear larger than they are, we opted for neutral, light furnishings and finishes in both the kitchen and living room, breaking the delineation between the spaces so they read as one large space," she says. Instead of choosing a high-contrast palette, or finishing each space in a different way, which would make them feel more separate from one another." Next, she used a prized artwork as inspiration for the decor: "The painting held sentimental value for the owners, so I used it as a springboard for selecting textiles and determining the palette for the room," she says.

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