Winter living room ideas – 10 essential design rules for elevating the cozy factor

Our curated selection of winter living room ideas will help you make the best of the season – in the most comfortable of spaces

Winter living room ideas
(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

Winter living room ideas need not be cold, dreary or uninteresting. 

Let your festive season unfold with enchanting scenes inspired by classic fairy tales. Conjuring up an other-worldly feel with delicately drifting fabrics, lustrous metallics and playful, theatrical elements, an ethereal scheme which has been artfully designed will add a touch of magic to your seasonal space. Browse through our gallery of winter living room ideas for inspiration and expert advice.

Winter living room ideas – 10 ways to dress your space for the season

The festive foliage, opulent materials and steely color palette often associated with winter can serve as inspiration to add warmth, light and contrast to your living room. Just one piece of furniture repainted or reupholstered in a luxurious material could completely change the mood of your winter living room, giving it a more cozy feel.

So, if you're looking for living room ideas that will make your space more cocooning and more cosseting, you've come to the right place. 

1. Play with pattern, color and textures

Living room with patterned chairs and antiques in Kit Kemp's house

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

If, like us at H&G, you have a deep-seated love of interiors, knowing how to mix patterns, color and textural elements in a room is just one of the many skills you need to master, especially if you want to craft a cozy living room

Getting the balance of pattern and color just right is key to a winter living room's success. ‘When combining different patterns, the secret is to use different scales. It is only then that each pattern has the ability to breathe and not fight against its surroundings,’ says Kit Kemp, interior design and founder of Firmdale Hotels (opens in new tab).

Layering textures helps to add depth too. 'The layering of materials, colors and shapes all amount to give your interiors an overall texture which can define the look and feel of a space,' says Martin Waller, co-founder of Andrew Martin (opens in new tab).

2. Dress your mantel with fall foliage

Fall mantel ideas with white walls, grey marble mantel and autumnal leaves in vases

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

If you thought fall foliage was only for your Christmas wreath ideas, think again. ‘A shot of in-season foliage above the living room fireplace brings the eye up and makes a great statement on a mantel,’ says interior designer Cindy Rinfret (opens in new tab). ‘It should highlight the gorgeous time of year and feel like a natural addition to the room.’ 

‘I love the abundance of evergreen branches at this time of year,’ says florist Philippa Craddock. ‘They are much hardier during the winter – as it is outside of their growing season – and will last for several days indoors.’

3. Rearrange furniture around a fireplace

Fall mantel ideas with blue and white vase matching blue and white tartan blankets on grey sofas

(Image credit: Nick Pope)

The fireplace is the focal point of a winter living room – the place around which family and friends naturally congregate for an evening to converse and relax, the hub that beckons us with its welcome warmth and light during the colder months.

'A living room fireplace is more than just an architectural decision,' muses Monique Tollgard, founder of Tollgard. 'A fire is a ritual you add to your home and your life.

Re-work your living room layout as winter draws near. Arrange seating in a sociable set-up with the fireplace as the focal point and add layers of throws, blankets and cushions atop a sofa or armchair for added warmth and comfort.

4. Hang a festive wreath

Winter living room with festive wreath

(Image credit: Polly Wreford)

Adorn your living room with exquisite greenery for a natural take on yuletide decor. The classic wreath can often be far too beautiful to be left out in the cold, so if you decide to display one inside always consider how its foliage will work with your interiors. 

A design like this seed head and moss creation has a wonderfully pale and ethereal look, making it the ideal focal point for a darker corner in your home. In this setting, the curved shape of the demilune table echoes the circular wreath, while the white bowl picks up on the highlighted areas of foliage above. If you are looking for other options to add pale tones to a wreath, consider integrating white heather or snowberry as both will stand out in darker areas.

5. Play with texture 

Neutral living room with dark grey walls

(Image credit: Paul Massey / Future)

Mixing materials and layering is key to making textural elements work with any existing winter living room decor ideas.

'Texture in interior design is all about creating tactile moments that invite touch,' says Tiffany Leigh, of Tiffany Leigh Design. 'It refers to the feel, appearance or consistency of a surface or material. The use of texture in interior design also helps to keep a space from feeling flat or one dimensional.'

Alongside materials it's important to consider color too, a tonal palette consisting of a spectrum of tan, gray and off-white can be greatly enhanced by the unique pairing of materials. Or, if you are using furniture in a selection of organic materials use brightly colored cushions to bring areas of light and shade into the room and contribute to the overall texture of your winter decor.

6. Paint using a dark color palette

Black living room with velvet sofa

(Image credit: Neptune)

‘Don’t be scared to use dark colors in a gloomy, small living room,' says Natalia Forbes and Louisa Rix, co-founders, Forbes Rix Design. 'It’s never going to look light, so choose a rich color and the effect can be truly transformative.’

Mike Fisher, creative director and founder of Studio Indigo agrees: ‘We believe north-facing rooms should be painted a dark or strong color, like brown or black, to make it more cocooning and those on the south side in lighter colors. The thinking is where you have darkness you should bring color, warmth and joy.’

7. Decorate in a tonal brown color palette

Brown living room with classic furniture

(Image credit: Emma Burns / Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler)

Considered a dark neutral, earthy brown is grounding but also has an elegance that is truly sophisticated. Versatile, it can be striking on its own or allow other hues to stand proud. 

In this swoon-worthy brown living room, Emma Burns of Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler has painted her drawing room in an earthy hue with a magenta pigment that forms an elegant backdrop for her eclectic furniture and art.

'Being polychromatic, brown goes with everything, but in deeper, very rich hues it is particularly good at flattering beautiful, well-drawn patterns,' says Edward Bulmer, interior designer and founder, Edward Bulmer Natural Paint.

8. Think about living room lighting

Winter living room decor with lighting

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

With their delicate interplay between function and form, a winter living room will greatly benefit from a well-executed decorative living room lighting scheme.

'Consider how the light changes throughout the day when thinking about where to position lights to create the most impact,' says interior decorator Nicola Harding, who designed this scheme. 

Think about flexible light sources for different situations: a floor light with a swivel arm is ideal as an evening reading lamp behind a living room sofa or chair, says Hollie Moreland, creative director of David Hunt Lighting. Remember that shade colors can affect the mood of a room, so for added ambience, choose darker tones which will feel moodier and cozier.

9. Maximize light in a dim space

winter living room with mirrors

(Image credit: Alexander James)

One of the oldest tricks is to use mirrors to maximize light in a dark living room. In this scheme by K&H Design, a Rupert Bevan slumped mirror fills each alcove. This south-west-facing room already benefited from plenty of light; what it lacked was atmosphere. The mirrors help project the winter sun throughout the room and increase the sense of space. 

Use a similar antiqued finish when working on this scale. Not only does it soften the glow of light but anything with a smoother surface runs the risk of tipping into hair salon territory. ‘The decorative lighting adds drama and brings together the contemporary and old with the antique chinoiserie lamp,’ say Katie Glaister and Henry Miller-Robinson, co-founders of K&H Design.

10. Hang a scenic mural to add interest to a dark living room

winter living room with scenic wall mural

(Image credit: Simon Bevan)

Scenic landscape murals are the biggest story in decorating this season – wonderfully atmospheric and evocative. Choose a stunning designs to truly transform a dark living room and capture the imagination. 

Combining dreamy watercolor and textural grasscloth, this wall mural has a timeless feel, complemented by furnishings in terracotta, sky blues and faded leafy blue-greens. Keep the rest of the color scheme dark, dim and moody for a cozy, atmospheric feel.

How do I make my living room look cozy in winter?

Warm and cozy winter living room decor ideas are pretty much top of most people's lists at the moment – for obvious reasons, when you consider that the most used space in a home is the living space.

There are plenty of tried-and-tested ways to make the your living room feel cozier and more inviting. From the colors you decorate with, the furniture to choose and the right lighting to pick, they all can have a transformative effect on a cold, dreary living area – particularly if all you crave is a soothing space to unwind in at the end of a hectic day.

There are a plethora of sophisticated ways to enhance a dark space, so dress your seasonal living room with deep navy blues, smokey grays, gorgeous greens and earthy taupes for a space that is both deeply cosseting and cocooning.

Another simple way to transform a summery sanctuary into a cozy winter retreat is to replace voiles with heavier fabrics, such as velvet. Thermal curtains and blackout blinds will keep your space warm – and provide more privacy come nighttime. 

Jennifer Ebert
Deputy Editor (Digital)

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.