The greatest compliment I can receive from a guest in my home is not “Oh, how beautiful your home is!” but “I really love how warm and welcoming your home is!” Yes, I’m a designer so I appreciate beauty and strive to create beauty in my clients’ homes, but more importantly I strive to create warmth and a welcoming environment. I’ve referenced this idea on my Philosophy page, but I think it’s important for me to expand on this topic...
I’ve had the privilege of being in a multi-generational Bible study of women where I’ve gained so much knowledge of God’s word and perspective from women who’ve gone before me. The book we are studying (True Woman 101) lays out God’s devine design plan for creating the male and female genders. In our most recent lesson, I was excited to read this quite perfect description of why it matters so much (especially to women) to create a home:
“Creating a home is not about checking chores off a list or about filling a house with material possessions – it’s ultimately about people. It’s about creating a warm, nurturing, orderly, stable place that promotes well-being and fosters physical, emotional, mental and spiritual growth. It’s about welcoming others in. It’s about ministering to the soul. It’s about community. It’s about cultivating relationships.
When we create a home, we provide a “cover” where family and friends can retreat and be sheltered from the cold cruel world outside. A place where they can rest and recharge from the daily grind. A place where they can flourish. A place that foreshadows the welcome believers will receive in heaven. A place that calls and beckons us to our eternal Home.”
Can I get an Amen? When I was reading those words in the book, I was like “Yes!! This is why I’m doing what I do!” What a sweet gift from the Father to read right there on those pages the very reason I feel called to help clients make their homes a warm, beautiful, life-giving retreat and safe-haven for all who enter.
So what makes a home warm in addition to being beautiful? Each home requires a different amount of attention to the details that create warmth - depending on ceiling height, architectural features, finishes, lighting, etc. But there are a few common factors that I personally feel are required to create warmth:
How to Create a Warm Home...
1. Color: I know a lot of people are afraid of color, and I’m not saying you have to go all out with bright, bold, over-the-top colors. I’m simply saying that even subtle hints of soft muted colors go a long way - and by “color” I don’t mean black, white, or gray. It’s okay if you love neutrals (I love neutrals), and you can still have a generally neutral room - but that tiny splash of color makes all the difference in adding warmth to a room. See examples below:
2. Fabric: I love the softness that fabric and upholstery add to a room - especially fabrics used for window treatments and pillows. These details are critical in making a room feel warm, comfortable and more complete - not to mention that fabrics also help absorb sound and reduce echoes. See examples below:
3. Warm Wood Tones: I believe every room needs rich & natural wood tones - found most often in wood flooring and furnishings. But if you’re able to add some other natural wooden elements through ceiling beams, fireplace mantels, stained wooden doors, or even wooden roman shades - that takes it up a notch. I personally love adding warmth and character to a room with at least one antique/vintage piece of wooden furniture - in its original finish (not painted). See examples of warm wood tones below:
4. Lamp Lighting: You might say I have an obsession with lamps. During a consultation, I can sense when my clients start feeling uncertain about the number of lamps I’m recommending... but I just ask them to trust me! I think lamps are critical to creating warmth - especially at night. I hardly ever use overhead lighting, and when I do I have those lights on a dimmer. Warm lamp lighting creates a soft, cozy environment with just the right amount of light. I recommend at least 2 to 3 lamps per small room (larger rooms require more). See examples below:
5. Balancing Formal & Informal: I absolutely love French design and traditional antique furnishings, but I know that those styles can tend to be quite formal and stiff. So I always recommend balancing formal furnishings and details with more informal styles to create a space that’s rich with character but also comfortable. You want your guests to feel at home - not like they are in a museum where nothing can be touched. Comfortable seating is especially important - both in a living room and at the dinner table. I find myself constantly saying to my clients, “You want to be sure to balance rustic with refined.” See examples below:
6. Layering Textures & Meaningful Decorative Items: There is a very fine line between not enough and too much when it comes to decorating. Not having enough layers makes a house feel cold and too staged - like real people don’t live there. Having too many pieces makes a home feel cluttered and uncomfortable - like there isn’t enough room for you. The key is choosing thoughtful, meaningful and appropriately sized decorative items like rugs, art & accessories. This is where most of my clients struggle because there is such a fine line (and it happens to be one of my favorite parts of my job). See examples of carefully curated spaces below:
I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a designer, and I love making homes beautiful - but more importantly I love making homes warm, welcoming, comfortable, and life-giving for the family and friends who enjoy them.