How can I make a large living room feel cozy?

What are the techniques design professionals to make large living rooms more inviting and warmer? Here we share the top 10

three cozy large living rooms
(Image credit: Future/James Merrell / Heidi Caillier Design, photography by Haris Kenjar / Emily Minton-Redfield/Nadia Watts Interior Design)

Having a large living room can feel like a luxury, but as the nights draw in and the temperature outside begins to drop you’re probably wondering, ‘how can I make my large living room feel cozy?’. 

It can be a challenge to bring the feeling of coziness into a large room, as this is something you would normally associate with more intimate spaces. But whether you have an open plan layout or lofty ceilings to contend with, there are cozy living room ideas you can adopt in order to transform your large living room into a warm and welcoming space.

We spoke to interiors experts to discover the techniques and ploys they use in generous spaces.

How can I make my living room cozy?

Making a house cozy isn't always easy if your rooms are large or lofty. Sure, it's wonderful to have airy rooms, but if it's coziness you crave, you may be wondering how to make them feel intimate and inviting. So, how do you make a large living room cozy? Try these techniques, step-by-step.

1. Break up the layout of a large room

Living room with blue sofas

(Image credit: Photography by Adrian Gaut/Styled by Colin King)

First things first, you should break down your large living room into different areas, rethinking your living room layout ideas to suit how you want to use the space, as interior designer Shanade McAllister-Fisher suggests. 

'Start by mapping out your room to create zones, being mindful not to place all the furniture against the walls, which tends to feel like a doctor’s waiting room,' she explains. 

'Use larger items of furniture, such as sofas, armchairs, and chaises longues to divide the space and create conversation areas and focal points.' 

Make sure each of these zones feel relaxed by keeping the design of them relatively informal. 

2. Create pools of light

Living room with colorful lighting and furniture

(Image credit: Firmdale Hotels/Kit Kemp)

Harsh living room lighting ideas can throw off the whole look of a room of any size, and with a large living room you probably have multiple light sources to manage. 

The secret to creating a cozy ambience in a large space is to plan living room lighting that avoids contrasts.

'One way to do this is through an armed living room ceiling light or a chandelier which will rebound light across the room,' explains Peter Legg, lead designer for Där Lighting

'A large diameter drum shade works well as a soft light and specialists should be able to offer you a diffuser or baffle trim which will further dilute the glow and minimize glare. 

'In a big space, you can also carve out different zones using accents such as a table or floor lamps and living room wall lights to form enveloping reading corners or snug socializing areas.'

3. Light a fire

Sitting room with blue velvet armchair beside fireplace bearing distressed wooden panels and animal skin rug below

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

Nothing says 'cozy' in a large living room more than a warm open fire, so if you are able to incorporate one into your design make sure it is the centerpoint. 

Do this by placing seating (safely!) around the area – not only will this help create a comfortable conversation area but it will also draw focus to the warmest part of the room. 

4. Layer, layer, layer

roost episode 3 - a living room decorated in pink and blue - PinkBlue_JAMES-MERRELL

(Image credit: James Merrel/Future)

Layering in interior design is essential for making a large living room feel cozy. 

'Try being more adventurous than incorporating just a couple of cushions and a throw,' suggests interior designer Juliette Thomas, founder of Juliettes Interiors.

'As well as gorgeous textured fabrics, add depths and tones of color to bring a larger space to life and make it feel welcoming and cozy. The warmth of wooden floors or the glamor of metallic finishes can lift an interior, while throws, cushions, rugs and lighting combine to complete your base layers,' she adds.

5. Create a nook

Books surrounding a window seat

(Image credit: Future / Brent Darby)

If you love to curl up with a good book then utilize your extra space to create a peaceful, cozy reading nook. Set up a large comfortable armchair next to a bookshelf, alongside a small side table. 

Complete the look by adding a table lamp or a floor lamp with a reading light for those darker evenings – and don’t forget to throw in a cozy blanket for good measure. 

Even if you don't use a reading nook, it will create a cozy feeling that can't be beaten.

6. Use rich, warm colors

patterned curtains in terracotta living room iwth decorative armchair by window and antique rug on floor

(Image credit: Emily Minton-Redfield/Nadia Watts Interior Design)

Rich, warm colors on the walls and even ceilings (think fall color schemes) can help to create an enveloping feeling in a large room. Warm neutrals and earthy tones can have a comforting effect, so you don’t necessarily have to paint the whole living room in a dark color. 

Rethink living room ceiling ideas, too. If you have high ceilings you could try using two tones on the walls in complementing shades, using one on the ceiling too. Do this either by painting different walls different tones to help zone the room or by only painting one color halfway up the wall, as this can often help give the illusion of a lower ceiling. 

7. Lay area rugs and carpet

Living room with a black and white striped rug and a grey sofa

(Image credit: Future)

Living room carpet ideas are an obvious way to soften a space, but if you are reluctant to cover up hardwood floors entirely, consider adding a living room rug (or a few). 

Not only will a rug feel cozier underfoot, but it can act as a tool to help zone a larger room. Place under a coffee table and chairs to create a conversation area and help anchor the space. 

'It’s important to consider the size, color and style of the rug as it’s an addition that will add warmth and will change the overall aesthetic of a room,' recommends Lou Petersen, Dwell’s creative director. 'Go for an option that suits your own personal style and blends well with your existing interior scheme,' she adds.

8. Ensure furniture looks and feels comfortable

living room with wooden storage units, textured ceiling, brown couch, blue and yellow cushions, drapes, footstool

(Image credit: Cabellero)

Make sure the seating you have is comfy – after all, there’s nothing better than sinking into a sumptuous sofa after a long day. The same applies for other pieces in your living room to help create a cozy feel. 

For example, you could swap your glass coffee tables for oversized ottomans, adding a tray to place coasters and candles on. 

9. Add more layering to the walls

pale lavender living room with gray modern couch, marble coffee table, coffee table books, bold print cushions, contemporary artwork

(Image credit: Mylands)

Think too about how to fill a large living room wall: using living room art ideas and even fabric tapestries can create coziness that can be layered over warming paint colors.

Choose a select few oversized pieces to fill the space and create focal points in the room, along with a few smaller detailed prints for added interest.

10. Furnish curtains with full drapes

Traditional interior with dark wood features, windows dressed with sheer drapes, white painted walls, blue and white striped rug, brown sofa, cream armchair, leather ottoman

(Image credit: Heidi Caillier Design, photography by Haris Kenjar)

Heavy weight living room drape ideas will not only help keep out the cold but lengthy fabrics will help soften the look of your windows and add texture to the room’s overall scheme. 

Look to layer your window dressings, too. Combine sheer blinds with thicker curtains to allow yourself to control the amount of air and light that comes into the room as and when you wish.

What are quick ways to make a large living room cozy?

Quick ways to make a large living room cozy include a quick dash around the house to gather complementary pillows and throws that you can use to add warm, comforting layers to your furniture. Maybe you can look at swapping out an area rug from another room, too, if its colors are warmer than what you have presently? And just as when you are looking for how to make a dining room cozy, swapping stark overhead lighting for table lamps and candles will quickly make your space feel more inviting.

Yvette’s first steps into interior journalism came several years ago when she joined the team at specialist consumer magazine Kitchens Bedrooms & Bathrooms, which is where her love for home design (and obsession for decorating) began to truly flourish. She worked on the title in a variety of positions, before being appointed as Features Editor on Essential Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom magazine, further cementing her voice as an expert in the three core rooms of our homes. 

During her years working in London, it became a running joke that Yvette wanted a fully stocked cocktail trolley in her apartment but would need to leave the city if she wanted to afford – and comfortably fit – one in her own home. Funnily enough, in 2019 she did exactly that, and can now be found sitting happily in her spacious Bristol adobe, cosmopolitan in hand. 

With a keen eye for new trends and innovations, Yvette continues to write about homes and interiors as a freelance journalist, sharing tried and tested advice for renovation projects and top tips for transforming your home into something beautiful.