After weeks of weather that couldn’t make up its mind, things are, at last, beginning to feel autumnal. Well, my heating is coming on automatically, and as the mornings and evenings are getting chillier, it doesn’t feel right to watch TV without getting a blanket out. Plus, the brown leaves are building up on the pavements, so all the signs are there.
There are also more emails in my inbox with "hygge" in the subject line, along with the reminder that you pronounce it “hue-guh”. For those that need a refresher, it’s the Danish byword for the feeling of cosiness and comfort, which, in my case, comes from sitting on the sofa, under a woolly blanket, drinking builders’ tea and surrounding myself with at least four cushions and the nearest scented candle I can find that hasn’t burned all the way down. In an ideal world, it would involve a log fire, but you can’t have it all.
There’s also a new kid on the block: còsagach, which the Scottish tourist board is telling people is essentially hue-guh with added tartan and hot toddies. Gaelic speakers disagree, and claim the term refers to a damp, mossy nook, which doesn’t sound very cosy to me. Quibbling over semantics, though, is not going to help any of us with that kind of soft-glow comfiness that makes you not want to leave the house between November and March. And, since we haven’t all got the cash to spend on fancy cashmere blankets, I thought it would be useful to pull together some of cosiest interiors out there, that you can actually afford before pay-day.
1. Blankets are a no-brainer
The key to things feeling, and looking, cosier in your living space is adding texture: Blankets and throws will do this instantly. Choose options with some wool in the mix if you can stretch to it, that tone-in or add colour to your scheme. I have a blanket on my sofa and another on an armchair and when not being snuggled into, they are decorative accessories that help soften the look and feel of the furniture. Habitat has some very well-priced wool-blend throws, as does Made.com.
2. Cushions, cushions, cushions
For me, there is no such thing as too many cushions; my sofa is currently home to a roster of eight in different sizes, shapes and textures that are lovely to sink into after a long day. Choose a range of soft, tactile fabrics; velvet feels luxe, particularly if you go for a heavier fabric for the cover and a cushion pad that’s on the firmer side. This will mean when you slump onto your sofa, the cushions will keep a plumped look. Elsewhere, opt for chunky-knits (again, wool will feel cosier than cotton), faux furs and other snuggly textures.
3. Keep things soft underfoot
There is nothing cosy about cold floors. Whether you have wooden flooring, tiles or natural stone – slate flooring in a kitchen is one of my life goals – rugs will help keep your feet toasty on chilly mornings, add that all-important texture and, if you have less-than-well-insulated wooden floors, they can help with heat loss. Longer pile rugs feel particularly hue-guh. I’m currently a bit obsessed with sheepskin rugs (or faux-fur versions if you prefer), these can also be used over chairs to cosy them up. Both Ikea and Dunelm have some good-value options. I use rugs in my open-plan flat to “zone” my space: a bigger, deeper-pile rug in my living room bit, that sits under some of the furniture. Then in my dining area, I have a few smaller ones that tie in with the colours in that part of the room. Remember to use a non-slide backing to keep rugs in place.
4. Wood = warmth
Take inspiration from log cabin-style interiors (the ultimate in cosy, surely?) and opt for rustic-looking wooden pieces, either furniture or decorative accessories. Personally, I love wooden tealight holders, which are usually handmade (Etsy’s my tip for these) and are relatively inexpensive. Reclaimed woods will help with a lived-in vibe – go for chunkier options that show off the natural grain over sleeker-looking pieces.
5. Go with the glow
Picture an archetypal “cosy” scene and the lighting is definitely more glowy than dazzling. Table and floor lamps dotted around a room will help achieve softer lighting. You can mix and match bases and shades, again to add texture and bring different materials into the room. If you want metallics, copper is a warm-toned metal to have in the mix. I advise checking the product specifications before bulb-buying as lamps have different fittings. As a guide, LED bulbs are the most energy efficient and if it uses one of those, around 400 lumens (6 watts) will give you a not-too-in-your-face light.
6. Candles are king
Scented candles make a failsafe pressie, but next time you’re buying for a friend, pick yourself up one too. Ideally, go for a brand that uses vegetable wax and other natural ingredients. I’ve recently discovered Evermore’s chic-looking candles, made from a sustainable soy and coconut-wax blend, with scents created from essential oils (try Blush if you like delicate florals). And I've long been a fan of Skandinavisk for its landscape-inspired fragrances presented in pretty glass votives with beechwood lids. To get the most out of pricey scented candles, the first time you burn one, keep it going until the liquid wax covers the whole candle rather than just a dip in the middle, this will stop a "tunnelling" effect and mean it’ll last you longer. Snip the wick after each burn to avoid too much soot forming. A more budget, but no less cosy option, are good-old tealights (tip: wash-out used candle holders and re-use the votive), or a cluster of pillar candles in different sizes. I put mine on a decorative plate to catch any wax.