Christmas is the perfect time to cozy up at home and create the perfect winter hibernation spot to wait out the cold weather, and luckily, it is simple to make a home cozy for Christmas.
This is how interior designers make a house look cozy during Christmastime, for a magical grotto perfect for hosting.
How to make a home cozy for Christmas
1. Focus on one theme
‘Unless you are a maximalist, I'd recommend focusing on a cohesive theme, whether it's traditional, modern, or rustic, to create a unified and visually pleasing look,’ she suggests. Be sure to pick out garlands, baubles, and lights that match the aesthetic, taking inspiration from what you already own to make it simple.
Cherie Lee heads the team at CLI, taking creative lead on all projects. She works closely with her team of designers and project managers who ensure the smooth implementation and delivery of stunning homes.
2. Introduce lots of foliage
‘A beautiful Christmas wreath for your front door is a wonderful festive welcome to your home. Dried flowers and foliage are a gorgeous traditional way to decorate your home during the winter months and often retain their scent – I've put up garlands of dried hops before which provided a beautiful visual effect above a fireplace. So simple and yet effective.’
Audrey Scheck, interior designer and founder of the eponymous design company, adds that it is not just plants you should focus your attention on, but other seasonal offerings too:
‘Opt to sprinkle in decor elements that are rooted in nature such as pine cones, branches, greenery, and mushrooms. Utilizing natural elements will make your space feel authentically warm and inviting.’
Named as one of Andrew Martin Top 100 in the World 2022, Naomi is a highly experienced interior design practice with expertise in the sympathetic renovation and refurbishment of residential and commercial properties. Naomi has worked in the industry for over 25 years and is now one of the most sought-after designers with a client base that includes world-famous movie stars, producers, music moguls, professionals, and entrepreneurs.
3. Layer luxury fabrics
Layering in interior design is a must year-round, but it is particularly important if you want to create a cozy look, reminds Trish Knight and Nicole Varga, interior designers and co-founders of Knight Varga. They recommend starting by swapping out your existing soft furniture for something that matches your Christmas theme a little more, with luxurious fabrics such as faux fur, velvet, and holiday-inspired patterns.
‘For easier storage after Christmas, shop for covers only when buying holiday-inspired cushions and use them with the inners you currently own,’ they add.
Created in a fully manual weaving process keeping with a tradition that dates back to the 15th century, this lightweight blanket with high volume is the perfect item to keep you warm on cold winter days.
Co-founders of Knight Varga Interiors, Trish and Nicole collectively have two decades of experience in the design world. Their Vancouver-based multi-award-winning design firm has become known and sought after for creating well-curated interiors. The firm provides complete bespoke residential design services throughout Vancouver, BC Canada and North America.
4. Set the scheme with candlelight
There is arguably nothing more Christmassy than a bunch of candles casting a soft light. They are inherently cozy.
As a result, Audrey Scheck, interior designer, strongly recommends setting the tone with just candlelight alone – be it real or fake:
‘The glow of candlelight instantly warms things up to make your home more inviting. We love utilizing an array of different candles throughout a space. Tall taper candles are perfect for bringing height to a vignette, and scented candles can quickly make your home smell like the holidays.’
With more than a half-dozen years of experience in remodels and renovations, Audrey Scheck leads Audrey Scheck Design, a full-service interior design firm based in Austin, Texas.
5. Abandon the overhead lights
In a similar vein, it can be a good idea to stick with soft lighting ideas and ditch our harsh overhead lighting altogether over Christmas for a coy vibe, suggests Suzy Humphreys, founder of Layered Lounge:
‘I love to abandon all overhead lighting at Christmas time and layer the lighting with an abundance of fairy lights, lanterns filled with candles, and ceramics filled with tea lights. By utilizing LED versions with handy timers, you can also create a magical glow without the effort of lighting them every night.’
When using bulbs, play around with lighting temperatures and stick closer to the warm end of the spectrum for soft glows perfect for snuggling on the couch.
6. Decorate with sentimental pieces
Christmas is a very sentimental time – we all have so many memories attached to it. To help channel this and make your house feel homey, consider making your sentimental pieces the highlight of your Christmas decorating, says Cherie Lee, interior designer.
‘This is possibly my favorite part,’ she shares. ‘Add personal touches when decorating a Christmas tree through DIY ornaments or family keepsakes for a sentimental and charming touch. Christmas tree decorations can quickly become expensive, so I like to buy one new special Christmas tree decoration every year for less sticker shock, but also to build up the tree over the years with special little touches that often bring back memories.’
7. Introduce a festive signature fragrance
A cozy home wouldn't be complete without making a house smell good for Christmas, says Suzy Humphreys, founder of Layered Lounge. ‘Candles are perfect for evoking memories of times gone by and helping generate new ones,’ she shares.
‘I cannot recommend our Natal candle, from Layered Lounge, enough, with a wonderfully harmonious blend that’s not too sweet and sickly like some. Yet it simply wants to wrap you in your arms and welcome you in.’
8. Set up your fireplace
‘If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, go ahead and make a roaring fire,’ recommends Bethany Adams of Bethany Adams Interiors. ‘You'll be so cozy and relaxed you won't even notice that the weather outside is frightful.’
Just be sure to prep your chimney for winter first to avoid any unexpected stress.
Bethany Adams has over 15 years of experience designing and project-managing high-end residential projects all over the US. She started her design firm in Louisville in 2015 and before worked for several designers and architects over the course of a ten-year career in Chicago.
9. Pare back color schemes for rich tones
Typically, darker color schemes make for cozier spaces, helping to absorb some light and cast a few shadows, giving the illusion of a smaller, more intimate home. As a result, Laura Williams of ATX Interior Design, highly recommends opting for more subtle holiday decor layered with rich colors and soft textures to give the space a cozy aesthetic. Think burgundies, deep fir greens, and luxury mustards, and use them throughout your decorating – even down to how you wrap your gifts.
If you want to try out the latest ribbon Christmas tree trend, this moody velvet ribbon is perfect
The Ivy Holiday Wreath made up of high-end greenery, pine cones and holly berries enhances any space with its depth and beauty.
Laura Williams’ work is informed by all of the personal and professional experiences that led to her founding her own design studio. She can trace her eye for balanced interiors all the way back to her childhood home, where she would frequently rearrange the furniture and reimagine rooms.
How do you make your house magical for Christmas?
One of the best ways to invoke the magical spirit of Christmas is to decorate every shared space in your house, almost cocooning it in festivities. This might mean having your main tree but also decorating your entryway with garlands and lights, making it both warm and inviting when guests first walk in. Having freshly baked goods ready on your kitchen counter will also play a part in making your home feel like a Christmas grotto, as will picking a festive fragrance to fill the space.
When should I start decorating for Christmas?
As soon as Thanksgiving is over, you can start decorating for the next holiday. Usually, people will wait until the weekend after Thanksgiving to start digging out their decorations to give themselves a week to rest before jumping into the festivities again. That being said, others will wait until the first week of December, or sometimes even later – it is really down to personal choice.
No matter how you decorate your home, you can't have Christmas without some good (and cheesy) Christmas music, reminds Trish Knight and Nicole Varga, interior designers. ‘Set the mood with holiday tunes playing in the background,’ they urge, ‘and create your own playlist of family favorites for a personal touch.’
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Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.
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