Experts offer their top tips to make your home cosier this winter

cozy couch in winter
Kiwi interior designers have given their top tips to help you shelter from the storms. Photo credit: Getty.

With no heat pump or fire, and our two heaters on their last legs, the double-sized sleeping bag we received from Secret Santa has become our winter warmer of choice. 

My husband, my cat and I cocoon in there every night, ask Google to play Friends on Netflix and only re-emerge for essentials like food and bathroom breaks.

While we find it comfortable, when we have guests around it seems rather inappropriate to ask them to hop in the bag with us. Looking for a slightly more glamorous and guest-friendly solution, I asked two of the country's best interior designers how to make a home snug and warm on these cold winter days. 

Advice from one of the coldest parts of the country

Anna Begg, owner of interior design firm and homeware store The Workroom, grew up in Balclutha, studied in Dunedin and now lives in Wānaka, so she knows the importance of a warm and cosy interior.

Her own Tudor-style house is full of rugs, sheepskins and cosy nooks, and she has designed a number of luxurious interiors for homes and businesses in the area. 

Begg says layers of texture and "fluff" always help to make a home more snug and suggests layering chunky knitted woollen throws and sheep skins on bedding or sofas.

Her own home features a mix of textures. 

"Leather with chunky linen and sheep skins slung over sofas and woollen floor rugs add texture and warmth to the space." 

Begg also loves to use candles and low lighting in winter to make her house feel "snuggly and warm". 

Quality curtains are a must too. "Using velvet and thick textured fabrics can help make the home feel warmer in winter," says Begg. 

In terms of finishes to avoid in chillier months, she admits leather can be quite cold compared to linen and steers clear of bright colours, instead decorating with "neutrals and warmer muted colours like moss green, clay, browns, taupes and charcoals." 

Never too much texture

Interior designer Shelley Ferguson agrees that you have to master the art of texture to create a cosy home. 

The former editorial director of home and fashion magazines at the now-defunct Bauer Media NZ, Ferguson moved from writing about interiors into designing them a year ago, with the launch of Shelley Ferguson Studio. She is also the creative director of Rock the House, an interior design website and homeware store, and has hosted shows such as The Block NZ and Slice of Paradise.

Shelley Ferguson
Ferguson says lighting and texture are the best ways to add warmth to a home. Photo credit: King Living.

"Texture is used to create depth and warmth in a room, and achieve a tactile feel so you just want to reach out and touch things," Ferguson says.

Lighting is another excellent way to warm up your home. "One of the biggest things I've done in my own living spaces to add cosiness is improving lighting," says Ferguson . "I've added dimmable downlights and pendants, a floor lamp in the corner for a mid-level glow, wall lights for task lighting when I'm reading and candles low down on coffee and side tables."

"The light at each level means you can change the atmosphere simply by adjusting the lighting combination - great for getting a cosy vibe fast in winter."

A basket of rugs are perfect for your friends - or the cat - to cozy up in when the temperature drops.
A basket of rugs are perfect for your friends - or the cat - to cozy up in when the temperature drops. Photo credit: Supplied: Helen Bankers/Rock the House.

She also suggests avoiding bright white light bulbs and opting for warm white LEDs instead. And stay away from too many shiny and reflective surfaces. "They create a cold, clinical look and even bounce noise around making the house more echoey." 

Shelley Ferguson's tips for creating texture and cosiness

  • Add curtains rather than blinds to create cosiness on often forgotten vertical wall spaces.

  • Furniture with a patina like wood or woven fabric has a warmer look than shiny modern surfaces.

  • Add a lived-in layer of soft furnishings - use cushions with a natural inner, and a folded throw or sustainable hide over the side of the sofa.

  • A layered bed with a soft quilt folded back, stacked with Euro pillows, sleeping pillows and scatter cushions will look much cosier than one thin duvet.

  • Add a basket of rolled-up blankets in the living room that family members and guests (or the cat!) can use to add a layer of warmth.

  • A rug on the floor not only grounds the space, but it also creates warmth underfoot and is great to balance acoustics.