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8 Ways To Create Cozy Common Areas

Often, cozy is derived from comfort, security and warmth, found in honest materials, playful details and aesthetic qualities. Coziness is difficult to quantify, and yet however we choose to define or express it, cozy has the capacity to improve quality of life.

Layers & Layout

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."

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 It doesn’t have to feel overly formal or outdated.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.

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.

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.

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 Greenery

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

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."

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