Do you ever walk into a space that just seems to envelope you? It is warm and inviting, even if it’s not necessarily small or “cozy”? What creates that feeling? As we step into autumn, a natural instinct to settle into our surroundings invokes a longing for a more intimate atmosphere. Visions of evenings by the fireplace, Sunday afternoons curled up in an overstuffed chair with a book or gathered around a candlelit dining table with friends may resonate. What tricks of the trade can you utilize to make your home the inviting space you long for? Wrap a blanket around your shoulders, sip on a hot cup of tea and read on.
1) DIM IT DOWN. This isn’t the first time you’ve heard me emphasize the importance of lighting. It is number one in my book for creating an intimate environment. Dimmer switches are worth the small investment to achieve a comfortable mood. Overhead lighting can be harsh, even when dimmed, so make use of indirect accent lighting and table and floor lamps. Of course, we can’t forget the importance of candelight. You really can’t go wrong with the soft glow of natural flame.
2) LUXURIOUS TEXTURES. One of my tricks in transitioning from one season to the next is changing out textiles. In the fall, soft velvet pillows and plush faux fur throws replace summer light linens and bright cotton accents. While warmer seasons trend towards less clutter, the coziness of cooler months inspire multiple layers, so don’t be afraid to add more to the mix.
3) DRAMATIC WINDOW TREATMENTS. Typically I am a fan of open, clean windows that bring in lots of light and maximize views. However, when creating an intimate environment, just the opposite is true. Framing a window with bold fabric not only adds visual interest, but physically warms the room by adding another layer of insulation from the cold. Often, I will specify a functional treatment, such as a roman shade or blind that installs neatly within the framing of the window and then layer drapes with the option of keeping them open or closed for a visual focal point.
4) MOODY COLORS. Dark, warm hues bring sexiness to any space. Think midnight blue, deep eggplant, rich chocolate brown or wine red. If you’re going all out in painting a room, don’t be afraid to use a dark color on the ceiling, especially if you have a lot of height. Deep hues absorb light and create the illusion of a more intimate space. Maybe a more transitional approach makes sense. In that case, bring these colors in with accessories and artwork.
5) SPEAKING OF ACCESSORIES. As with the textiles and window treatments, layering is key. Bring together collections of books, framed photos, artwork and bouquets of fresh flowers to style your home. The combination of personal touches that tell stories are a constant reminder of what is important to you and become natural conversation starters when guests are over.
6) FURNITURE LAY-OUT. Often when I begin working with a new client, I find their furniture shoved against walls with a sea of floor space in between. The thought process is that by doing this the room looks more spacious. However, to create an intimate place to gather, the trick is to section off multiple furniture “clusters”. Perhaps you’d have a sectional with a coffee table facing the media or fireplace wall and then set two smaller chairs together near a bookcase for intimate conversation.
7) MUSIC TO MY EARS. An intimate home isn’t just about touching our visual and tactile senses, audio creates mood all by itself. Thankfully, with today’s technology a tap of a few buttons provides a non-stop playlist created for any event. So turn down the lights, turn up the music and settle in to the delicious fall season.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ashley Cole is a professional interior designer based in Grand Rapids. Her work has been featured on HGTV as well as numerous publications, including Kitchen Trends and Home Magazine. Ashley’s passion is “creating environments that enliven the spirit.” ashleycoledesign.com