Soft and snug and so so cosy.

At this time of year the spring can feel a long way off and most of us want our homes to be somewhere to hibernate…soft and snug and so so cosy.  Create instant warmth and welcome at your threshold by placing a vase of rich coloured berries in the hallway, think quintessential English winter.

The trend at the moment is for warm and dark colours - soft greys; masculine, enveloping but never harsh are a bold move for your walls.  I know that not everybody wants to take the plunge with dark paint and people often ask me how they can bring their interior up to date without resorting to complete refurbishment.  I love to create an inviting space with plenty of soft furnishings – a room in winter without an assortment of throws, rugs, cushions and blankets can be a difficult place to really nestle into.  Add a throw over a chair and another on the sofa.  Use a variety of textures – chunky knits, wools, sumptuous silks and soft velvets work gorgeously together and can make even a cool, airy room feel like a winter sanctuary.

Ambient lighting is so important in the dark British winter but you are not looking to chase the darkness away, more ‘warm it up’ – do this easily and effectively by lighting candles around the fireplace, using lamps rather than overhead lighting.  You can add to the overall effect of warmth with accents of deep jewel colours such as ruby red, saffron, inky blues and green.  Don’t be afraid to mix patterns together to create a beautiful mix of rustic richness – if you can excuse the contradiction in terms…

You can continue that lovely cosy feel throughout your home; add a touch of chic to the bathroom by adding chunky grey towels and bath mats.  Luxurious scented candles are well placed in the bathroom – where better to re-imagine a Nordic spa?  You can create a rustic ski lodge feel by storing towels in wicker baskets – a great solution for those of us short on storage as well as being a stylish addition to the smallest room.

The great thing about using soft furnishings as an integral part of your design scheme is that you can change them with the seasons, or as it suits you without having to spend a fortune.  It doesn’t all have to be high end stuff either, trawling the flea markets is loads of fun and with the likes of Kirstie Alsop et al to teach us the difference between tat and treasure, you might even pick up something collectable for a bargain. 

If you are thinking of investing in something a bit more permanent like a sofa or a sideboard, take your time in choosing.  Don’t be scared to get something bold or ‘mismatch’ - you can use your fabrics and smaller pieces to tie your look together.  Opt for soft tactile fabrics on upholstered chairs and sofas and contrast all this ‘touch me’ stuff with a solid, dark sideboard or console table.  When you choose pieces that you love, yes, you might spend a bit more but you will find you are far less likely to want to replace them in the future (not to mention less likely to need to) and also you create a room with wow factor – a place which represents you and a place which can be your very own boutique retreat.