Finishing Touches: Creating a Cozy Home

I've always thought of my home as a place of rest and grounding. Numerology supports this, our house is a four. But as a minimalist, it wasn't feeling quite as cozy or 'finished' as I would like. Just not totally lived in, if that makes sense. I'm very particular not only about what fills a space, but how much. So I'm not ever going to load a room with wall hangings and throw pillows and oversized chairs, no matter how cozy it may appear in a photo. All that clutter would be stress to me, not quiet contentment. Instead, I needed to take my time and carefully choose a few key ways to make each room reflect that cozy, restful, peaceful vibe I was looking for. The finishing touches.

Fire. There is just something about the warmth and glow and flickering flame that just screams home, isn't there? I wish we had a fireplace but we don't. On the other hand, my parents do and while I enjoy it, the maintenance is kind of a pain in the ass so maybe I'm not missing out too much... Anyway, there's more than just fireplaces, if you're also missing one. We got a table for the deck with a tabletop fire pit and put beautiful blue glass in it. It makes the patio so cozy and inviting. Of course, candles do the trick too. I light candles inside almost every day.

Color (Simplified). Staged houses all have one thing in common - beige. Neural, light paint colors sell a house. But paint is the easiest thing to change. Paint when you move in, pick a color scheme and embrace it. You can always paint it back to neutral before you sell. For me though, I like neutral colored paint. When we repaint a room, we stick to the colors that were already here, which is a range of whites and light grays. But feel free to make it your own. The trick is sticking to a simple color scheme, which will make a space feel cozy, calm, and finished. If you're like me and prefer neutral walls, pull color in in other ways, like throw pillows and artwork.

Texture. It doesn't seem like something that would make a big difference, but it does! When you don't want to overload a room with a lot of 'stuff', picking a few key pieces in different textures is key. It gives dimension to an otherwise sterile space. Soft fluffy throw and woven throw pillows on the couch next to our wooden coffee table you can see and feel the grain on - it just looks like we put thought and love into creating that area. Which we did!

Beautiful Items with Purpose. Cramming spaces with knick knacks makes a home feel cluttered, not cozy. But having a space completely devoid of personal touches makes a house look staged rather than lived in and homey. There's a balance to be found in the middle, by adding beautiful items that also serve a purpose. We added the gold produce baskets in the kitchen and the Chicago flag pallet in the dining room. I also picked pretty, slightly sparkly picture frames so they all match and add a little extra beauty to the room. A true upgrade from the cheap black or mismatched frames I toted around between apartments in college.

Living Things. It's a classic home decor tip to make a room feel finished - adding something living. This is often in the form of plants, but it can be a goldfish. Or, in my case, a dog. It would be impractical to add something living to every single room in my home, so good thing she follows me into every space!

Lighting and the Sun. Open the blinds and curtains! Sun streaming through windows always makes a space feel welcoming. In the evenings, switch to something with a soft glow. Overhead lights are so harsh. I like to use candlelight and side lamps with dim bulbs in a soft white. It's a very easy thing to overlook, but I highly recommend you take notice of the lighting around you, especially in the evenings.

Sound. To me, the constant background noise of a television reminds me of dorm rooms and doctor's office waiting rooms. But totally silent spaces don't feel cozy either. So for the times we have people over or when we're having happy hour and dinner, we have music playing softly in the background. It's the perfect way to add cozy without adding a single physical item.

Attitude. At the end of the day, the things inside the home mean nothing if you don't have the right attitude. I didn't, for awhile. A house adopts the energy of those inside it, so if you have a bad attitude it's going to reflect in your space. Creating a welcoming, cozy atmosphere starts with yourself. A lesson I had to learn. I started being grateful for the space, fixing little annoyances, and generally doing things that reminded me that I was home - baking cookies before John came home or we had company. Greeting people (including John!) when they come in, or leave. Having candlelit dinners. Creating new traditions. 

How have you struck a balance between cozy and cluttered? What are your favorite finishing touches around your home?

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