Coming home after a long day of work, many of us want to kick up our feet, enjoy some quiet family time and cozy up on our favourite spot to relax and unwind.
Especially this time of year, when the days are getting colder, wetter and shorter, a warm, welcoming home that exudes comfort is more important than ever.
Whether you live in a luxurious mansion, a cozy one-bedroom apartment or somewhere in between, creating an inviting, home-like ambience can be easily achieved with certain approaches to design and decor.
According to Sheri Marshall, owner of Langley-based Marshall Design, striking a delicate balance between practicality and style is something she and her clients strive for. Ultimately, design decisions come down to what makes a person feel comfortable, cozy and at ease in their home, and proud to share it with visitors.
“People need something that they look forward to coming home to each day after work,” Marshall explains. “With the busy lifestyle that is the trend of families today, it’s important to not forget about function and practicality – but at the same time not compromising style and a certain degree of elegance and beauty into your home.”
One of the first thing Marshall recommends homeowners take a look at is a room’s paint colour, which she notes is a very personal decision unique to each client.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘what’s the in colour right now?’” she says. “It’s much more important to focus on what colours make my clients feel comfortable, rather than what the latest trend is. When you’re in that room, does it give a feeling of warmth?”
When using softer, more neutral wall colours in a space like a living room, extra splashes of colour can easily be added to brighten up the room with toss pillows or throw rugs, Marshall notes.
The right furniture is essential to ensuring a high level of comfort in one’s home – after all, nobody likes trying to relax on an uncomfortable couch or chair.
Make sure that you have ample comfortable seating in a living room, Marshall advises, noting there are ways to improve the comfort factor of certain pieces of furniture.
“If you have a chair that isn’t super comfortable, if you add an ottoman, often times that will make it much more comfy,” she says.
If you’re like the many people who spend their workdays under the not-so charming gleam of fluorescent office light, you’ll definitely need something a little more mellow for when you return home.
Marshall recommends installing dimmers whenever possible – so a room’s lighting can be adjusted accordingly – and including floor lamps to set a more relaxing mood in the evenings; the softer the light-bulb wattage, the softer the ambience.
Not to be forgotten in the design process are window coverings, which Marshall notes often don’t make it into a homeowner’s budget when embarking on a redesign.
Adding simple and stylish coverings, however, doesn’t have to break the bank.
“There are definitely some ways to keep the price down with drapery panels,” Marshall says. “They’re not functional, but they add colour and they really help to finish off a room.”
The use of accessories – simple, fun items that can be inexpensive – are another great way to pull the colours of a room together, and reflect a homeowner’s unique style and personality.
“With these sorts of things, when you walk into someone’s home, it shows you that it’s lived in,” Marshall points out.
While most of these design suggestions are fairly straightforward and don’t require a major renovation job, Marshall notes that if it’s an older home she is working with, the client may want to consider a more substantial remodel – including the removal of walls – to create an open concept throughout the home’s main floor.
“It’s a trend that makes a home much more comfortable and welcoming,” Marshall says, noting most newer homes are designed with an open concept in mind. “The flow is much nicer, so you may consider taking out a wall between a kitchen and living room or the kitchen and dining room.”
No matter what design, decor and renovations a client chooses to make, Marshall says the most important factor in creating a comfortable home is staying true to one’s personal taste.
“Don’t get too caught up in trends – they may not be your trends.”