How to create a cosy home

A step-by-step approach

Now more than ever, we want our home to be a safe haven where we can truly be ourselves and find refuge from the stresses of everyday life. It’s not surprising then that trends like hygge and wabi-sabi have become so popular over the last few years. According to Fabienne Vanbrabant, independent design professional, coach and owner of IKAb design studio in Borgloon (Belgium), “adding a sense of cosiness requires more than just throwing some blankets on the floor and sipping kombucha. It’s all about finding the perfect balance.” Here’s how to get started.

1. Start with a moodboard

Fabienne: “Not sure which style or direction you want to go for? Start by creating a moodboard: a collection of images that somehow captivate you and the atmosphere you’d like to live in. You can do this by hand – with glue and scissors and a bunch of magazines – or you can do it digitally, with apps like Moodboard Lite or If you’re renovating more than one room, create one moodboard per space and select no more than 10 images per board.

2. Find the common thread

Look carefully at your mood board(s): which items truly catch your eye? What are the pieces, colours, textures, and materials that could serve as the foundations of your design plan? Ideally, you’ll end up with a workable palette of compatible colours, materials and textures that will help you guide future decisions.

3. Use what you already have – if it fits

Do you have any pieces of furniture, art or decoration that should really get a place in your new interior? Go over them one by one and find out if they are truly compatible with the style you’re going for.

“It doesn’t all have to be new: make space for old pieces of furniture that breathe life, that tell stories, that connect us with a shared past.”

4. Make space for imperfection

Adding pieces of furniture, art or decoration that tells a story is a great way to add cosiness to your home. So make room for your grandmother’s cabinet, or for that wooden floor that reminds you of the house you grew up in. They don’t even have to be in perfect shape: the Japanese wabi-sabi philosophy is all about finding beauty in imperfection. Just remember to keep everything balanced: make sure the items you’re keeping are compatible with your overall style. If not: be ruthless.

5. Find a natural balance

The choice of materials plays an essential role. Natural materials have the ability to evoke a sense of peace, warmth, and authenticity. It’s why we are seeing a lot of wood, stone, wool, flax, wrinkled linen, leather, clay etc., in earthy, heavier shades and muted pastels. It gives the room a cosy and authentic feel.

In the same respect, timber floors remain incredibly popular because they combine this longing for nature with nostalgia. Many people have grown up in a house with a hardwood floor and are now chasing that lost feeling of belonging and security. Wood imitations like laminate and vinyl are quickly finding their audience as well. Many laminate and vinyl designs today are indiscernible from real wood but offer numerous practical advantages, like water resistance, ease of maintenance and versatility.

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