4 essential rules for making a neutral space feel cozy – the experts share their secrets

Albion Nord's design team shares how they make even the lightest of neutral spaces look and feel cozy

A neutral living room
(Image credit: Albion Nord)

With an increased interest in a cozy aesthetic as of late, it is no wonder that more people with neutral schemes are looking for ways to cozy up their space without any drastic color palette changes. 

When thinking about how to make a house look cozy, the first assumption is that you have to use darker, warmer tones. Luckily, however, there are more ways to make a neutral space feel cozy than introducing bolder colors. 

Here, we have spoken to Camilla Clarke, creative director of Albion Nord to learn how the luxury studio curates beautifully refined, neutral spaces that still exude that cozy feel.

1. Substitute color for texture 

A cream boucle chair in the corner of a dark painted office

(Image credit: Albion Nord)

Using texture in interior design has always been a cornerstone of luxury design, with layering and variety at the heart of a cozy space no matter its color scheme. Albion Nord is a studio that has perfected the art of boosting the impact of texture and color in interior design.

'In the absence of color, the texture is key,' Camilla insists. 'Bringing in a variety of different materials helps to create warmth and interest in a space without the need for bold colors. 

'Try mixing textures such as natural linens with soft velvets or robust leathers with thick wool,' she suggests. 'Consider a large, chunky sisal rug, upholster a chair in a white wool boucle, and add velvet cushions to a strong, noble antique piece for that extra bit of cozy luxury.'

2. Look for luxury to make a space feel cozy

Dark blue and green tapestry hanging, dark wooden chest of drawers and wooden and cushioned armchair

(Image credit: Albion Nord)

'When imagining a ‘cozy’ home, perhaps ‘luxury’ is not the first word that comes to mind for most. But elegance and coziness go together, helping to marry form and function,' Camilla explains. 'The use of sumptuous materials alongside furnishings with high-quality craftsmanship and thoughtful lighting that casts a warm glow on the space are just a few design elements that make an aesthetically beautiful house feel like a cozy sanctuary,' she adds.

As a studio, Albion Nord prides itself on sourcing only the best of sustainable fabrics, with natural materials easily lending themselves to luxurious schemes such as luxury living room ideas and luxury kitchen ideas without compromising on the cozy brief.

3. Lighting is essential for a cozy feel

Beige reception room with olive green velvet sofa

(Image credit: Project by Albion Nord / photograph by Patrick Williamson)

An integral part of any space is getting the lighting ideas right, Camilla says, especially when trying to soften a room and make it feel cozy or welcoming. 

'Keep it as soft and warm as possible, opting for lanterns, wall lights, and table lamps rather than harsh downlights that make the space feel stark and imposing,' Camilla suggests. 'The multiple sources of light not only create a soft, relaxing ambiance in the room but can also be used to highlight the architectural details in a space.'

4. Neutral does not have to mean boring 

classic living room with panelling and trad features, neutral scheme with wall light and table lamp, full drapes

(Image credit: Albion Nord)

Decorating with neutrals has gained an unfavorable reputation over the years with some seeing restrained palettes as 'boring' or even unimaginative. Albion Nord disagrees.

'Neutral doesn't have to mean boring,' Camilla begins. 'Not only do muted tones create calm and soft spaces, but they can also help show reverence to the property itself and its setting. For example, light and fresh curtains in neutral tones frame a window, allowing the view to shine without being overpowering.'

Instead, neutral room ideas and cozy room ideas can sit hand in hand, she suggests, as neutral schemes help to set the tone for a luxuriously timeless space.

'Especially with a period or architecturally interesting properties, a neutral palette is often best for sensitively reinstating the original architectural features, reinvigorating the home whilst retaining much of its original charm and character – letting the period features speak for themselves.'

What makes a space feel cozy?

One way to make any room feel cozy is to mix textures to introduce variety and interest. Using rugs, pillows, baskets, throws, and interesting furniture all help to visually warm up a space no matter the color scheme. 

How do you make a neutral living room not boring?

To make a neutral living room look less 'boring' consider emphasizing and highlighting interesting architectural features in the room such as ceiling beams, wainscotting, crown molding, and even baseboards and trims with paint. Alternatively, layer texture through soft furnishings effectively or add layers to the room through interesting and meaningful artwork. 

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, 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.