How To Create The Ultimate Cozy Home This Winter, From An Interior Designer
While we lean on our homes throughout the year, winter is really their heyday. The holidays mark the unofficial start of cozy season, when staying in just sounds so much better than trekking out.
Rachael H. Grochowski, an interior designer, yoga instructor, and the founder and principal of RHG Architecture + Design, there are many similarities between a comforting winter home and an established spiritual practice. Both can help us re-center and live in more integrity, truth, and alignment.
Here, Grochowski lends her top tips for designing a calm, peaceful space that is a total dream to come home to this winter.
Balance private and communal areas.
When it comes to creating a comforting home, Grochowski says that carving out spaces for quiet reflection is key. These are areas you can go to be with yourself and your thoughts, almost like little cocoons. If possible, they should be tucked away from the main throughways of the home—perhaps in a back corner, by a windowsill, or even in a bathtub. You can further siphon them off with a curtain or pocket door for added privacy. Once you have your area chosen, fill it with soft fabrics or inviting objects so that it's an attractive place to spend time and recharge.
In addition to areas that are all your own, your home should have places to gather with roommates, family, and/or visitors. It may sound obvious, but Grochowski notes that many of our residential spaces are not necessarily designed for connection. (Take, for example, the typical kitchen island with chairs on one side. With this layout, having a face-to-face conversation requires some maneuvering.) Whether it's rearranging your furniture so that chairs are facing couches more directly, or creating clusters of furniture in large, open rooms, designing for conversation can instantly up the intimacy and coziness of a space.
Keep things neutral.
Grochowski is a fan of more muted color schemes—especially in those areas of quiet reflection. "When I approach those types of spaces, the first objective for me is that it often has a limited palette so that you can see the beauty," she explains.
And instead of filling your blank canvas with lots of trinkets or textures that catch the eye, use a tighter edit to make the space more calming. "I say a lot that if everything is beautiful, nothing is beautiful," Grochowski notes. Choosing one or two centerpieces and letting the rest fade to the background can help promote presence in the space. And clearing away any excess clutter will keep you from getting distracted from the task at hand: relaxing and recharging.
"When we create spaces that have organization, visual balance, and order, that rests our body," she adds. "Then we have the opportunity to be more present in the moment and recognize the experiences that we're having—whether they're good, bad, or indifferent."
Make way for memory.
In addition to letting us appreciate the present moment, Grochowski says that great design will also invite us to consider the past. Pulling in elements of nature is one way she likes to create areas that transcend time. Take a cue from her by swapping out synthetics for woods that express their grain, time-worn rocks or pebbles, or any other natural element that has a rich history of its own. She adds that diffusing essential oils that evoke particularly positive memories is another great way to time travel at home this season.
Finally, create magic.
Winter is full of twinkly lights, crackling candles, and fragrant greenery—all things that, Grochowski says, invite a bit more magic into our lives. At the end of the day, the season is a time when we want to feel connected: To ourselves, to the earth, and to something greater. Whatever it is that reminds you of all that is enchanted—crystals, tarot cards, a beautiful print—feel free to display them loud and proud in your winter retreat.
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