Almost everyone wants to create a home that encourages people to get comfortable, to sit, stay and linger—especially when the linger-ers are the people who live there. In certain rooms, success on this score is a kicked-back atmosphere where everyone feels free to put their feet up and relax.
So it may seem obvious that a no frills, no fuss approach is the way to go when an easy-going vibe is your objective. But frills are different from attention to details. And fuss isn’t the same as putting some forethought into the furnishings, fabrics and finishes.
A home’s gathering places should have soft, soothing elements, and its private rooms need to be clutter-free and serene. Then time stands still, and its inhabitants can shrug off the cares of the world—even if only for a few minutes.
Here are a collection of 25 tips and tricks from our Soft Surroundings’ stylists and designers to keep your home casual and inviting, but also put-together and polished.
1. A neutral color palette on walls and upholstery give any room instant comfort cues. Or add natural fibers and fabrics to the floors and windows to keep it cozy.
2. A muted blue grey or taupe finish on furniture will add a hint of French country charm and earthy authenticity. Our fabulous Fantine Linen Cabinet is a perfect example.
3. A crème-colored or chalky grey accent table with glints of hand-rubbed gilt, like with our Chambourd Gueridon, adds simplicity and finesse.
4. Framed family photos, especially in black-and-white, are always evocative of the passage of time. They signal, “stop and smell the roses” and who doesn’t need a reminder to do that once in a while.
5. Monochromatic floor-to-ceiling drapes are the perfect foil for a formal setting. Use them to balance the mood in a room that has a few too many stiff right angles.
6. For the occupants to take it easy many designers believe a room needs to be easy on the eyes. That big, bold, red pepper wall color might be more suited for the kitchen where you want the mood to be energetic and lively.
7. Never underestimate the power of candles. They are a room’s instant tranquilizer! And that goes for the flameless kind too!
8. Plants and topiaries are another inexpensive way to round off the edges of a too-formal room. We love to pot a plant in a lovely urn and place it in front of a floor length mirror or a framed mirror on a mantel. The silvery depth and abundant green is both crisp and calming.
9. Slipcovers are the quickest route toward slouchy sophistication. Our go-to trick is to use our blue ticking striped Tristan Chair and Ottoman in nooks that need to loosen up but still look presentable.
10. If a mocha frappuccino is so satisfying, why wouldn’t a mocha linen sofa like our Saint-Malo do the same thing? Well, it will of course. (And it’s even better when you’re nestled into its arms drinking that mocha frap!)
11. Activate the senses with the sound of a trickling, indoor table fountain or the scent of fresh flowers. Simple things like this will calm nerves and remind us to enjoy the moment, take our time.
12. Furnishings and fabrics that create a cocooning effect are always enticing. Great examples are wingback chairs, like our Fontaine, and silky soft comforters and shams like our Adagio ensemble.
13. Sleek and smooth surfaces, as in a leather couch or kitchen banquette can be softened with nubby needlepoint pillows or plush shearling ones. Juxtaposed against crisp linen or worn leather, the contrast is a welcome surprise.
14. Raw silk, whether fashioned into drapes or bed skirts, has the homespun quality that never fails to take the edge off even a slightly stuffy room.
15. Position a slipcovered chaise near a master-suite hearth or an open French window and settle in for a few moments of gazing, napping or getting lost in some reading. We can’t say enough about our Avignon Tufted Back Chair and Ottoman for all of the above.
16. Speaking of ottomans, they originated in the Ottoman Empire (of course!) and were the focal point for family seating arrangements. Now they’re all that, and much more: casual end tables, pseudo coffee tables and footstools. Our Maggie Ottoman is also a pet hideaway.
18. Overstuffed chairs are another way to say, “sit and stay a while” and our Provence Matelassé Chair speaks that language fluently. We love the rolled arms and deeply tufted back.
19. Hard-to-stain rugs and floor coverings are an unconscious nod to comfort because they put your guests at ease. Jute, hemp and combinations like in our Jute Woven Rug are beautiful and functional.
20. Soft goods used in unexpected ways can also give a room a casual vibe. For example, spread a cable knit throw or lively quilt on roughly hewn wooden table and serve!
21. Porch swings and reading chairs are often contemplative spots in a house. Make sure the lighting matches the mood. One of our favorite new decorating tips is to place an end table and vintage-y lamp like our Lapin Lapereau on an enclosed porch. Presto—you just added on a room!
22. Kitchens have always been known to be gathering places—especially during parties. So why fight it? Add to the welcoming mood by hanging pendant lights normally used in entryways and dining rooms over the island. They’re so much more stylish than recessed or halogen lights.
23. Touches of vintage charm give a home a lived-in feeling that is very appealing. Vintage inspired furniture like the Isle Sur la Sorgue Writing Desk or small things like our Toile Lampshade Cover are great examples.
24. Sofas with strong, tall arms and lots of scattered back pillows are just the right mix of structure and flexibility. Perfect for communing with the DVR or the sandman.
25. The last tip is…you. You need to love the feeling you get when you walk into your home. You need to love setting foot out of bed (preferable onto something as soft as a Flokati Rug) and you need to never want to leave, or can’t wait to come home.
We hope we’ve given you an idea or two for making the living spaces in your home even more comfortable. Don’t forget to send us your comments! We love to hear them.