How to Make Your Home Cozy on a Budget

A look at small, personal details that make a house cozy. Your budget and decor skills don’t matter.

A cozy house. You know it when you see it, but it can be hard to define. There is nothing that makes a house more welcoming or comfortable than a feeling of coziness. It is very different from a house that is beautiful, elegant, or clean. In fact, sometimes a house that is too beautiful, elegant or clean can be very uninviting. 

I am super sensitive to the “feel” of a house, and have started trying to figure out why some houses feel cozier than others. Here are some things I have noticed in particularly cozy homes I have visited.  Creating coziness in your home is not difficult, if you pay attention to certain things.  Here I am going to explore five ways to create coziness in your home without buying a bunch of fuzzy stuff.

1. Fire. Having a fire is the easiest way to instantly create coziness in your home.

Besides the physical warmth it provides, it is like having a companion in the room. The glow, flame, and dry heat of a fire just can’t be beat.  You know how when you are lonely, sometimes the TV helps that dead feeling in the room?  Fire is like that but better.

Wood burning is the coziest, but gas is good too if that’s what you have. Having baskets of newspaper and kindling sticks nearby adds to the appeal. After having a wood burning fireplace in my house that heats the whole home, I will never buy a house without one or the ability to add one. It just wouldn’t feel like a home to me without it.

If you absolutely can’t have a fire, candles are a good alternative. I’ve seen candle holders that fill a fireplace and people wrapping artificial logs with fairy lights for a pretty glow.  Of course they don’t provide any physical warmth, which is important too, but they do create coziness in your home.

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2. Color

young girl in front of window, holding binoculars with book on windowsill.  Queen Anne pink walls.

Color, or at least warm neutrals, go a long way towards creating coziness in your home.

I love gray and white just as much as the next girl, and my house is largely done in that too. But when you also have accessories that are also gray and white, the whole effect can be very cold. This is especially pronounced in the winter, or in rooms without very much sunlight.

Painting the walls has the biggest effect. See the before and after in my girls room and dining room when it is painted grayish beige vs an actual color. I love picking from Benjamin Moore historical collection to avoid a color that is too crazy- colorful.  (I wish had more of my own pictures to share, but this house is still very much in progress.)

If you don’t like painting walls a color, or prefer your house to look different throughout the year, use colors for dish towels, rugs, curtains, and cushions. Adding fabric where you can adds softness, color, and warmth.  All of these things work towards creating coziness in your home.  They all also add function, so they don’t look cluttery.

white pitcher on windowsill filled with orange zinnia and petunias

 3. Homemade food 

The food itself is cozy, but so it the act of creating it. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and when it’s isn’t used it doesn’t beat. Someone needs to be in there much of the day preparing things, doing dishes, polishing the counters, sweeping the floor. Baking bread is especially good at creating kitchen coziness, it can’t be rushed and only requires a few minutes of work at a time. Make sure you have a pretty bowl and tea towel for rising dough.

I don’t mean you have to be a kitchen servant, constantly chained to it, but if there is always some type of kitchen project going on, it goes a long way toward making your home cozy.   When you think of “grandmas cozy cottage” is she sitting around watching TV?  No. How about at the kitchen table, listening to the radio, shelling peas? There’s just something about the kitchen that gives a house it’s soul.

The coziest kitchens have a table and chairs nearby, or stools right at the counter, for kids to do projects or for people to visit and have a snack. But it is food preparation that lures people in and gives the kitchen and the home life.

(And if you are trying to make your home cozy on a budget, eating at home helps the wallet too!)


4. Beautiful things with a purpose

If the things you buy are both useful and beautiful, your home will be cozy and inviting without even trying. When you see charming English country homes that look cozy, part of the appeal is the function of each item.  There is not any “decor”.  But there are beautiful old books, clocks, and lamps.  To get a similar look, try to make everything in your house, from your laundry basket to your snow boots to your soap look beautiful to you. The easiest rule to follow is to buy as little plastic as possible. It usually looks ugly and cluttery and it ages poorly.

5.  Living things create coziness in your home without you having to do anything

Obviously, an empty house is not going to help in coziness department.  Every house needs something alive.  Plants, pets, and other people make a house feel alive because they are alive.  In my opinion, a dog is the absolute best at this.  I have never had one, but I notice a huge difference in the feel of a house when there is a dog around vs. when there is not.  

Since a dog is not in our current plans and our cats are mostly outdoors, I need to get serious about having more houseplants, which will do in a pinch.

pets create coziness in your home

What makes a house cozy to you? Do you think it is different for everyone or there are some coziness universals?  Is there someone you know who is especially good at creating coziness in the home?

Want more coziness?

How to Make Your Home Cozy on a Budget

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  1. I saw a post with a title that said something about how we should get rid of “outdated” Christmas decorations! It’s a good thing it was a post, and not something someone said to me in person. I would have needed bail money! Christmas isn’t, or it shouldn’t be, about fashion. It’s fine if someone comes up with a decoration that appeals to you. But to say ANY decoration is “outdated?” I could rant for hours about that!

  2. I love this article but honestly, you have way too many pop ups and ads. It’s so distracting and I’m a person that if there is something on someone’s pop up, even if I want it, I won’t buy it. It just ruins the post.

  3. If you don’t have a fireplace, put one on you tv! That’s what I do! I burn some sage for the scent and pop on a fireplace video. Instant cozy!

  4. Throw pillows, a throw blanket on the couch, rugs, warm lamps, plants and a photo wall makes my apartment look cozy! I have an electric fire TV stand and I love it so much – it definitely adds coziness!

  5. New to you. Love it already. But I’m having trouble decluttering and my house is so dusty but cute if I’d fix it. I like all the wicker and rope beads and black n white buffalo check decor and the farm house looks. I have quite a bit but the ridiculous dusty everything holds and reversed the look it want. I’m working on it but it’s slow go. I love you ideas and plan to use some. Thank you very much!!!

  6. My contractor remarked my home is the coziest he has ever seen: maximalist layers of comfort in quilts in baskets everywhere, YES, 3 fireplaces that get used in Winter, and everything in my home spells beautiful/useful to me. I am doing a open house Tea this Christmas plus soirees twice yearly. French cottage glam coastal and it all works in pinks, teals whites. My Hearth Room kitchen is to die for.