Cosy Home: 10 Feel Good Ways to get Comfy
EMBRACE THE SEASON
(by Jo Glanville-Blackburn as seen in the October ‘19 issue of House Beautiful)
Ah, home: dear sweet home: that sensual space that has the potential to instantly make us feel calm and relaxed the moment we walk through the door. From a welcoming aroma that seduces your senses (and your guests) to the comfort and colour of accessories that swiftly transform the way we feel emotionally, now more than ever we all crave that cosy feeling.
Me? I’m an autumn gal, a russet redhead forever romanticizing the notion of conkers and the beautiful cycle of Mother Nature changing her mood along with our own: hence I have a serious love for all things autumnal, burnt (even toast), cocooning and cavernous… from log burners to candles (yep, they’re in my soul).
As the days darken, and research says we are spending over 90% of our lives indoors (although half of that is work) we still underestimate the positive impact our space and home environment can have on our emotional wellbeing. Done well your home has the power to give us a sense of belonging, security, peace and calm.
We internalise everything about our internal living habits, so make this change in the season an opportunity to embrace feeling cosy, cocooned and simply love being more ‘at home’ with yourself too.
Touch is the ultimate of our feel-good senses, so snuggle up with cosy blankets and cushions, warm throws and fleecy rugs, in luxurious, tactile velvets, chenille, alpaca, and cashmere. “Our house is full of texture: cushions, blankets, soft Moroccan Beni Ourain rugs, linens and sheepskins,” says interior stylist and creative director Sally Denning sallydenning.com, “it’s the key to creating a cosy home. Layer it all up and don’t worry, you can never overdo it! I have sofas stuffed with cushions and sheepskins, perfect for snuggling up with the family. In winter I pile the beds with incredible Welsh blankets by Melin Tregwynt that are so warm and add interest with their gorgeous patterns and colours too.”
Check out Tingha or Cudul Fringed Cushion, £93.50 each at Abigail Ahern or Next Collection for rugs and large floor cushions.
There is nothing better than guests walking through the door and saying your home smells amazing: every breath we take matters, right? I always use natural cleaning products (such as refillable Tincture, tincture.com) at home as many sprays can affect your breathing, this is one of the main reasons I created such pure yet luxurious 100% botanical candles, (try JOGB MOJO Sensual Candle with patchouli, rose and amber, £65) free from paraffin wax and synthetic fragrances. I like to diffuse pure essential oils in hot water near a radiator, or in an electronic diffuser (Aromastone Bodi Tek, £19.99 on amazon.co.uk), such as frankincense (to unwind), sage (to energise) or geranium (to make me smile). Alternatively, Aromatherapy Associates award-winning essential oil blends (De-Stress Mind is my fave) are now available in Capsules, £55, diffused as microdroplets via an Aera diffuser, providing 500 hours of pure aroma therapy. “Scent is hugely important to the home,” says Abigail Ahern. “I am obsessed with a certain pot-pourri (often sneered at) with organic herbs and spices collected in the Florentine hills by Santa Maria Novella. This one is so beautiful; a real game-changer.” I totally agree - first having mentioned this brand back in 1987 in one of my first magazine articles for Options Magazine (anyone remember that fab title?) Santa Maria Novella Officina Profumo Farmaceutica Pot Pourri, 100g Refill £22, for the best experience pop into one of their tiny stores in London’s Piccadilly, Knightsbridge or Dublin.
While darker mornings and longer nights can feel a bit like we’re hibernating, this can negatively affect the mood like ‘a portable black cloud’ according to Mind, who say the effects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) kick in this month just before the clocks go back. Invest in a Lumie Desklamp, £144, that mimics daylight to lift your spirits while still helping to create a warm, cosy haven. “Overdose on lighting” advises interiors guru Abigail Ahern (check her fab tips on IGTV @abigailahern). “With shorter daylight hours we need to make our inside spaces cosier than ever, and lighting is one of the quickest ways to do this. Everywhere there is a table in my house there is a light, so I get these incredible pockets of glow which are so very beautiful.” “And go OTT on candles,” advises Sally, “I can never have enough. When all the jobs are done, the house dims and it’s lamps, candles and firelight only that help create a cosy space.”
Appeal to your playful side and laugh more. I grew up as the youngest of four and with my own children there is nothing more relaxing for us as parents than genuine laughter and joy emanating from the walls as I get beaten, time after time in a game of backgammon, cards (my kids are just too quick for me at playing ‘Speed’), and family classics such as Cluedo, Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit (just how bad I am is where it gets really funny). Life’s just all a bit too serious otherwise, isn’t it? Invite friends over for a ‘games night’, it’s the new alternative to book club and takes less commitment and way more entertaining. In my next life. I willhave a dedicated games room.
Did you know the healthiest people get to bed earlier? The hours between 10 am and 2 am is known as our ‘healing time’ when the body is most at rest and will instinctively work to repair all the trauma we’ve put it through during the day. So, if you find it hard to wind down and get some good-quality zzz’s, try switching your evening regime. For two weeks try eating earlier, have a soothing soak, and switch off the TV and/or phone, and grab a book instead: according to Sussex University, just six minutes of reading reduces stress by 68%. Better still, read in the bath! Dim the lights to add to a soporific atmosphere, pop in a scoop of therapeutic Himalayan salts (The Beauty Kitchen 100% Himalayan Bath Salts, £5.99 for 1kg, Holland & Barrett), then light a relaxing, therapeutic candle: JOGB SLOJO Relaxing Candle, £65 jogbliving.com, burns only clean plant waxes and pure plant essential oils including geranium, lavender, labdanum and cedarwood. The family will be banging on the door.
We have an instinctive subconscious response to colour that we can tap into to make ourselves feel truly at home. The current passion for cavernous dark walls immediately allows us to style up with cushions and throws and curtain details in warm luxurious jewel tones of russet, purple, red, mustard, green and terracotta. Think of it like bringing the leaves of a cascading Virginia creeper from the garden into your home. If ever the word snug has its place, this is it!
Never underestimate the positive effect sound in the home can have on your subconscious. Silence is almost impossible, even with earphones, but we’re quick to recognise the angst created from that single dripping tap - you have to tighten itdon’t you? So why not ‘up the volume’ with more soothing, vibrational sounds that you adore and that resonate deep within to help get your even more chilled. Music works like perfume on the psyche: powerful and very individual. Create your own autumnal playlist of that instantly make you want to curl up: I’m thinking Ella Fitzgerald and Otis Redding. Become more aware of music played when you’re out and about in a store or having a massage: what makes you feel good? Whether pan pipes or Sam Smith, the brain remembers and the body responds. For me, the ultimate cocooning music is Beethoven Cello Sonata No3 in A Major, which my husband and I played over and over when my eldest daughter was still in my tummy: she’s 24 now and it still works magic on both of us.
The moment the air chills, get creative with all things oven-baked. Load up with warming stews, casseroles and curries with herbs and spices such as thyme, ginger, sage and onion, or sweet fruit, clove and cinnamon crumble, that all help boost the immune system. “I love nothing better than curling up with a stoked log burner, glass of wine and dinner on lap,” says Ian Haste (@hasteskitchen), author of The 7-Day Basket, a tantalising family cookbook that creates seven recipes from one shopping basket, “my giant Toad in The Hole with lots of kale is a family favourite. We have a quad bay Aga which is amazing in the colder months – it’s our dogs dream sleeping area, plus it cooks so differently to a conventional oven: jacket potatoes with rosemary salt are incredible, or a slow cook, six-hour beef rendang is literally a dream.” For family interior inspiration check out @hastehouse on instagram.
Bringing nature in from the outdoors in is another great way of cosying up the space. Twigs, stones, crystals, burlap and logs are great ways to give that modern Scandi cabin feel. “I’m a bit of a forager,” says Sally. “I live in the country so it’s easy to add a single copper beech branch or a pine frond stem to a vase or oversized jug to create a real autumnal statement rather than a bunch of flowers.” Interiors blogger @hygge_for_home and columnist at Grand Designs, Reena Simon is passionate about bringing the outside in. “Chrome or hard materials in the home just isn’t relaxing to me,” she says, “so we opted for wood throughout as it just feels more inviting. I also highly recommend investing in as much glass as possible, as that view and instant connection to the changing seasons outdoors has been one of the most important factors in creating harmony and wellbeing in our home: whether I’m cooking, working or relaxing is so calming it makes me feel extremely content.”