I always ask my clients how they want their home to “Feel” once we have finished the design work and move from it being a project into being their home. More often than not the words “Cosy and Welcoming” are the ones put forward. This isn’t much of a surprise as that is exactly how a home should feel, as if it is giving you a warm cuddle as you walk in the door. But how do you balance all those snuggles to create a whole room that works?
It’s about balancing the different types of finishes you can use in an interior design. By having a mixture, it creates a depth to a room that gives it soul. The finishes I look to have represented in a space are:
Matt, Light Sheen, Soft, Textured and finally Reflective.
Light bounces off or is absorbed by these different surfaces in a combination of ways, which gives a room a feeling of depth and warmth. This is especially important if you are working with a single neutral colour palette.
So here’s how I recommend layering these textures up to build the perfect “Cosy Room.”
This is almost always my most dominant finish in a room as painted walls give you a matt surface. Light doesn’t bounce off a matt paint so it creates a soft back drop to the rest of the space. Linen fabrics also fit in the Matt category but beware of using just plain linen, with no colour or texture, with matt walls, as everything can quickly become very flat to look at and dull.
This finish can be easy to overlook in your scheme as often it comes as a result of other elements used in the room without thinking about it. Light sheen comes from wooden floors, wooden furniture and painted woodwork. Think console and side tables. Light Sheen isn’t exclusive to hard surfaces but can be in some fabrics like silks, satins and velvet. Yes, I know velvet looks soft, but it also has a light sheen to it which gives it that luxury feeling we all love.
This is your fabric layer in a room. Think upholstery, bedding, curtains, rugs and carpets. Living rooms and bedrooms will contain a higher percentage than a kitchen. Think of having about 30% – 50% of your stuff being Soft. Layer it up, with throws and cushions on beds and sofas to make inviting nests to curl up in. The Soft layer doesn’t just work to create a cosy look to a room but it also works to soften acoustics, making a space comfortable on the ears as well.
Try to mix up the texture and colour factor so that everything doesn’t just look the same. It’s all about creating a depth which creates that welcoming feeling.
I always think of this as the super snuggly bit. Look for some of your textiles to have texture to them; a chunky knit throw or a deep pile rug bring that interest. Wooden surfaces can also add texture, with rustic rawness cutting out the Sheen. Light sinks deep into these types of surfaces which gives the feeling of comfort to a room, making you want to sink deep into your sofa with a good box set.
Welcome to you, metals! Be it chrome or brass, that shine you get from your metals as the Reflective layer creates a feeling of chic. Light sparks off these surfaces lifting the room and a little goes a long way. I would say have about 10% of your finishes be Reflective, using it on coffee and side tables and even your light fixture. Don’t go over board with this if you want the room to feel like a place to cuddle up in as too much bling can make a space feel too formal.
Having these 5 finishes represented in your scheme and layering them on top of each other, e.g. a textured throw on a soft velvet sofa in a painted room, makes for a beautiful space that says come in and make yourself comfortable here.