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Tired of Winter? Here’s How to Make Your Home a Haven


Designate the coffee table or a side table for board games and puzzles. If everyone knows where to go to play Scrabble, a quick round or two just might happen. Add comfort where you might not naturally think of it. Drape a sheepskin throw over a wooden chair to soften the seating. Toss a scarf over a lampshade to add a bohemian atmosphere to a room. Place a sisal rug in the mudroom or entryway so your bare feet land on a warmer texture as soon as you’ve taken off your shoes — and make sure your slippers are waiting in a basket for you. “Instead of creating a perfect night out, it’s an attempt to create the perfect night in,” Mr. Wiking said.

Just as you layer clothes to go outside on a cold day, a home should be layered, too, so it feels like a space that might envelope you. The types of fabrics and materials you choose matter. Natural fibers and fabrics like mohair, leather, wool and wood are inviting. Synthetics, not so much.

“You can immediately look at something synthetic and it’s not going to hug you back because it’s made of plastic,” Ms. Caan said. Natural materials tend to age well, gaining character over time.

A space need not feel dark, heavy or kitsch to seem cozy. Ms. Caan recently designed a house for a client near Boston who wanted a cozy space. But the house had high ceilings and large windows, and the client preferred a light-gray color palette — not necessarily an ideal recipe for what might be homey. To achieve the look, “we used wood, we used cashmere, we used alpaca,” Ms. Caan sad. “All these things are light, but you want to just dive into this house.”

Area rugs can be layered, too. Ms. Caan often uses a sisal rug as a bottom layer with a wool one on top. A rug need not be the star of the show — it’s often better if it isn’t, but when aiming for cozy, look for materials that feel good underfoot and invite you into the room.

“You want to create a pleasurable tactile experience for people,” said Catherine Connolly, the chief executive of Merida, a rug company in Boston. Will the rug feel soft beneath your feet? Soft and welcoming enough that you might want to sit on the floor and read or watch a show? That’s the goal.

Lighting sets the mood, and to achieve a sultry one, you need dimension. Use a mix of sources — floor lamps, table lamps, sconces and overheads. Set fixtures to dimmers and choose bulbs with warm hues. Avoid fixtures with exposed bulbs, as those can be harsh to the eye. Consider the shade cover, too. “A paper shade is really good,” said Michael Amato, the creative director of the Urban Electric Company, a lighting company in Charleston, South Carolina. “You can either do it so it’s opaque and allows light through or it’s completely blackened and it allows light from the top and bottom.”

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