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Create cosiness in large spaces

From the Resene decorating blog

Whether you’re at home in a vast villa or lounging in a loft space, there are times we all want cosiness. It might be a comfortable zone to hang out with friends and family, it might be a ready corner or a dedicated space for focused work; it doesn’t matter if the weather is warm or cold, sometimes snug is just what you’re looking for.

A cosy green bedroom

Textures, layered shades and soft fabrics amp up the cosiness in this bedroom. Upper wall painted in Resene Stone Age with the lower batten section in Resene Wilderness. Floor painted in Resene Green White, side tables in Resene Alabaster with a marble effect in Resene FX Paint Effects Medium coloured with Resene Rolling Stone, cacti plant pot in Resene Celeste, jug vase in Resene Spitfire, diamond-textured vase in Resene Half Duck Egg Blue, tiny vase in Resene Lime White and vase with the plant above the bed in Resene Beethoven. All cushions and bedding from Citta, rug and faux plants from Freedom. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Wendy Fenwick.

How do you create that if your home is an open plan, light-flooded, high ceilinged delight? Or even if you want to carve out some space for ‘me time’ in a busy family home or shared space.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Design on paper first

If you have a large open plan area you want to add some cosiness too, it’s a good idea to have a rough plan to work to. What kind of activities does the room need to accommodate? How many people could be in it at any one time, potentially doing different things? How will noise carry? Where in the room gets the most light? What is fixed in the room that you’ll need to design around, and what features are moveable?

Draw an approximate footprint of your room and divide it up into different spaces to match your needs. It’s not a hard and fast blueprint you have to stick to but it will give you a guide to start thinking about what you want to do where so you get functional, beautifully curated spaces, rather than cluttered chaos that detracts from your big space. It could be a fun project for the whole family.

Divide and conquer

Once you’ve had a think about how you want to divide up your space into useful, more functional and comfortable zones, there are plenty of ways to define those spaces without detracting from the larger room.

Freestanding shelving units are useful room dividers. Keep them fairly short and sturdy or just be sure they’re stable and not top-heavy. Backless units allow your eye to still run the length of the room, adding shape. And you can paint them to suit your decor!

Other furniture such as side tables, consoles, couches and chairs all work well to define a smaller space in a large room. A daybed, upholstered bench or a chaise longue can be a good way to create flow between two different use spaces, while providing extra comfort!

Soft finishing

It’s one thing to divide a room up into smaller use areas, but if ‘cosy’ is your brief, then soft, warm, comforting finishing touches will be key. Avoid too many hard surfaces and edges; add plants, flowers and throws to keep things comfortable and inviting.

For example, instead of a hard wooden coffee table at the heart of your conversation nook, add a large, flat-topped ottoman in a plush fabric. Plants and flowers or botanical artworks are another way to amp up the cosiness. And instead of using chairs to mark out the space, think about a fabric screen or even a curtain or blind for a more defined border between your cosy space and the rest of the room.

Don’t forget about rugs! Whether they sit on top of carpet, wooden floors or even tiles, a rug gives any space instant cosiness and definition.

A cosy reading nook

A simple pattern earmarks this nook as the perfect conversation spot. Walls painted in Resene Smooth Operator with stripes in Resene Mountain Mist, floor in Resene Wafer, peg stools painted in Resene Mountain Mist and Resene Kalgoorie Sands, large plant pot in Resene Rodeo Drive. Chairs from Dawson & Co, rug from Ivy House, plant pot from Kings Plant Barn, lampshades and peg stools from Freedom. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

Creative use of colour

Clever use of contrasting and complementary colours is one of the simplest ways to create cosy scaled down spaces in larger rooms.

To keep it simple you can use a colour theme to make a particular area of your room stand out, but still feel part of the larger space. If you have a big area in which you want to create multiple different use spaces you might want to choose an overarching colour palette for the whole room, then work with different shades and colour intensity levels in different areas. It will help keep the whole space cohesive rather than chaotic.

To create a quiet reading spot in a bedroom or family room, paint out a corner of the room in a dark, calming colour that works with the rest of the colour scheme but really invites you into that space. Deep smoky blues such as Resene Dark Side or jewel-toned greens such as Resene Kaitoke Green work well for soothing retreat spaces. Add in an amazingly comfy chair, a warm textured throw and a pedestal lamp and your cosiness is complete.

Be as creative as you like. If you don’t want to go as far as painting the ceiling and floor, a simple archway, circle or geometric pattern painted on the wall will help define a space that feels separate but still part of the larger room.

Top tip:  Creating this painted illusion of an extra space can be a really fun idea for a children’s bedroom to give them a cosy space they want to retreat to when it’s time to wind down. Paint out a section of their room a different, calming colour and fill it with pillows, soft toys, games and books, themed to their favourite things.

A calming blue dining area

Calming shades of blue, including an optical illusion on the wall, work with low-hanging lights to turn a spare corner into a cosy dining area.

Walls painted in Resene Seachange with an arch and shelves in Resene Awash. Floor painted in Resene Breathless, table in Resene Rhino, large pot on the floor in Resene Rhino with a stripe in Resene Breathless and triangle motif in Resene Awash. Chairs from Freedom, bar cart from Wooden Horse, rug from Grounded Homeware, brass scoop from Good Thing, brass tray plant pot from H&M Home, plant from Mood Store. Project by Melle van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

An almost monochrome palette with luxury touches brings instant cosiness to this calm corner.

Walls painted in Resene Palm Green and floor in Resene Greige. The cabinet is painted in Resene Double Spanish White with stripes in Resene Vintage. The larger plant pot is Resene Palm Green. Chair, cushion and ottoman from Contempa, lamp from Freedom, candle from Illumina. Project by Annick Larkin, image by Bryce Carleton.

Play with maximalism

You can also be a bit bombastic with your cosiness, layering a curated collection of belongings that you love. It’s the opposite approach to the current decluttered minimalist trend, but done thoughtfully you can create a comforting, cosiness amongst things that bring you joy.

The key is to look at how different items work together; find the things they have in common. It could be shape, texture or theme, rather than colour. As long as what connects the items is apparent you’re creating a cohesive look.

Experiment and have fun. Don’t be afraid to leave a space bare until you find just the right thing to fill it. With a bit of thought and practice a maximalist approach can be a dramatic and fun way to bring large scale spaces down to a more cosy, human scale.

Turn the lights on

Lighting can be a very effective way to help you feel as though you’re in your own cosy world, even in a larger space.

For cosiness use warm, amber toned bulbs and consider adding dimmers where you can so you can control the strength of the light. Sometimes cosiness still requires a good reading light!

Pedestal lamps over comfy chairs make them seem as though they're in their own cocoon, or use directional ceiling lights to showcase a stunning couch or conversation zone.

Top tip:  If you have high ceilings you can ramp up the cosiness by adding tall, leafy plants to bring things back to a more comfortable scale. Another tip for high ceilings is to paint your walls in two different colours using a deeper colour on the bottom and painting the top part in a lighter shade or a neutral to trick your eye into thinking the ceiling is lower.

July 06, 2021

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