InteriorsWise Words

11 Designers Share: Tips For Adding Warmth To A Room

by Erin Austen Abbott

These chilly, grey months of winter make me think ahead to spring and its flowers, sunshine and color. I love winter for about a month, but by mid-February, I’m counting down the days on my calendar until it’s over. Some of the ways that I personally add warmth to a room is by starting with a neutral sofa and adding in lots of colorful pillows that work well in the room and with the bright art on the walls. I also find that mixing patterns adds a certain level of warmth — something you can keep around all year long.

Since we still have some time ahead of us before the seasons change, we’ve asked 11 designers to tell us how they decorate a room to add warmth and make winter a little more inviting. From lighting to surrounding yourself with meaningful, found objects, this is a great roundup of resources that I know I’ll personally be turning to when I need a change. —Erin

Jen Hewett for Design*Sponge
"The rooms that I find the warmest and most welcoming are those that reflect their inhabitants’ personalities. Fill your rooms with things you love, rather than worrying about whether pieces work together; what will unite disparate objects is that they’re a reflection of you. (And having a snoring dog in a corner of the room doesn’t hurt, either.)" --Textile designer and print maker, Jen Hewett | Home tour here
Moglea for Design*Sponge
"We live in the Midwest, with really cold winters. In November, we always add fur throws to furniture and to some of our dining room chairs in the winter. It helps keep us warm when we are sitting by our large windows and adds visual warmth to the space. I generally just think a space feels warm when the wall art is personally curated. I like mixing my childrens' artwork with art pieces I’ve collected, alongside vintage finds. A space feels warm when every surface of it is intentional and easily conversational. I always hope visitors to our home get caught up in what is on the walls. I want someone to walk out of the bathroom and say, “You really must love Abraham Lincoln.” Art should encourage self-reflection and conversation, which makes a space feel welcoming." --Meg Gleason of Moglea
Christiane Lemieux for Design*Sponge
"The best way to make a room feel warm is beautiful lighting. It sets the stage and makes people look and feel great. Dimmers are very important, they allow you to set the mood for whatever the occasion. It's also a good idea to have multiple sources of light - from the ceiling and ambient light from things like lamps. Gorgeous lighting makes everything else in the room gorgeous." --Christiane Lemieux, author of The Finer Things and co-founder of Cloth & Company
Billy Wolf for Design*Sponge
"Found objects from nature to antiques; there is no better way to warm up a room [than] with an item that you acquired outdoors, traveling, or on a vintage scavenger hunt. Filling the space with these objects [gives] way to uniqueness and rekindles memories." --Lyndsay Drago of Billy Wolf
Yield Design Co. for Design*Sponge
"We gravitate towards minimal spaces, so we find ourselves balancing that out with a lived-in warmth. In our house, our walls and floors are more of a blank slate, and we rely on natural materials, plant life, and personal accessories to provide the color. The objects that add character to the space have personal meaning. The main pieces we use daily (couch, chairs, etc) are chosen to be worn, not preserved in a museum-like setting, so their wear in combination with the minimal surroundings lends our space its warmth." --Rachel and Andrew of Yield Design Co.
Land vs. Ocean for Design*Sponge
"Varying textures is one of the easiest ways to warm a room. Framed art hanging opposite a tapestry or house plants tucked away in a corner on a steer hide rug. But nothing warms a room for me quite like an heirloom furniture piece. Whether it is an incredible find that you scored at the flea market or one your grandmother wanted you to have, it is those stories that come with the piece that warms a room." --Bradley Adair of Land vs. Ocean
Khristian A. Howell for Design*Sponge
"Aside from color, my number one way to create warmth in a space is with lighting. No need to bust the budget - the simple things will do the trick. First and foremost, I need all my lights to be on dimmers. The ability to control the lighting in this way instantly changes the atmosphere in the space. If you want immediate warmth without any work, candles will do the trick every time. On dark winter days and nights, you would swear I was having a séance!" --Color and pattern expert, designer, and author, Khristian A. Howell
Coral and Tusk for Design*Sponge
"My personal interior style is minimal and clean. I like having very few things and having those things mean something - that they have a history or a story or that they exude some feeling of being intentionally made. Surrounding myself with objects like these creates both warmth and comfort." --Founder of Coral and Tusk, Stephanie Housley
Ben and Erin Napier for Design*Sponge
"I think books give a room warmth in a way nothing else can. The books that have shaped you and meant something to you, stacked, grouped, scattered, close at hand. They're more than chipboard and wood pulp. They're your story in tangible form. Hemingway said, "there's no friend as a loyal as a book." What's warmer than friendship?" --Erin and Ben Napier, hosts of the upcoming HGTV show, Home Town, and owners of shop Laurel Mercantile Co.
Coulter Fussell for Design*Sponge
"I make a room warm by opening the windows because I live in Mississippi and it's hot outside. But design-wise, I keep all the curtains wide open, the lamps lit low, the furniture old, the textiles varied in style and texture and spanning across decades, the wine stash in clear view, some sort of floral print, at least once in every room, and I always have a work-in-progress sitting by the sofa. --Fine artist and quilter, Coulter Fussell of Yalo/RUN Studio. Photo found here.
Me Speak for Design*Sponge
"We use lots of colors, textures and layers of various materials throughout our home to add warmth and comfort. Most importantly, we have found surrounding ourselves with the things we love - whether it be for its beauty or its sentimental value - radiates not just to our own family, but to those we welcome into our home." - Eric and Lori Wright of ME Speak Design

Suggested For You


  • Loved this piece of advice from Jen Hewett: “Fill your rooms with things you love, rather than worrying about whether pieces work together.” That’s something I had to get over when decorating my home – worrying if things went together. I decided that if I liked it, then I’d get it!

  • Jen Hewett’s advice is spot on. When my husband and I moved into our first home in our 20’s, my decorating was based on what others (in particular home magazines) deemed to be on trend, not my own style. Fast forward to my 40’s and my home reflects my family and my history. It is filled with objects that bring to remembrance beautiful past events – from my husband’s beautiful artwork from his high school years, to my children’s first stories written in pre-school, to my grandmother’s handmade bedspread (sent as a wedding gift from Croatia). My home may not be considered “on trend” but it is a sanctuary for those that I love.

  • make your style based on your evolution of your life keeping those things you love, giving away those things you know someone else would love. Then build and light your beloved treasures. The memories will keep you warm during those harsh dark days.

  • These are fantastic. I’ve always preferred a “warm” house over a light and bright one. It just feels more lived in and relaxing.

  • Loving Erin and Ben Napier of Home Town. Their style is simple and relaxing to look at. Use of books in home gives visitors a sense of the people in the home. Friends often come to my bookcases first. Fun article !