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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?


33 thoughts on “How to Make Your Home Cozy on a Budget”

  1. I think it is wonderful you have been asking this question, and I like your answers.

    Now that I am asking the question of myself I realize that if a home is too neat and staged for beauty, I don’t feel like sitting down. I also don’t feel comfortable in the opposite kind of home, one that is so cluttered you need to move something when your host asks you to sit down. I like to see something of the occupants’ personalities, so not a Better Homes and Garden house. They are nice to look at, but you can’t feel cozy if you can’t feel personality!

    And I completely agree with you on plastic! I think not only is because they are cheap, but it is also because it is made by machines in the tens of thousands. Contrast that to a few handmade items in a room, and there we have it: machine versus human being, cold versus cozy!

    Thank you so much for your article. It was a treat to read and got me thinking!

  2. You hit the nail on the head…no amount of accessories can make your home cozy. Hubby and I are empty nesters and I’ve gone through and purged the house of things we no longer need/want/use. I periodically go out my front door and then come back in to see what other’s see. The furnishings, the smells, the colors on the wall…all things that other people notice when they walk in your front door. It was suggested to me awhile ago and once I did it, it was a game changer as to how I arranged my furniture to the candle I burned to the centerpiece on my dining room table (fresh flowers every Friday from Trader Joe’s). Thank you for such a wonderful article!

  3. Lovely article! People don’t often think about #4, but I agree wholeheartedly! Something that’s been placed purely for decoration just doesn’t have the warmth and soul of something that’s being used. My favorite items are those that are both useful and beautiful.

  4. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in your thoughts. This article has led me to read your Christmas post from two years ago, haha! I fall somewhere inbetween the snob and …well just going with it. I put the kids’ homemade ornaments around the bottom and tucked in. Actually, my youngest, who is 15 , has been decorating the tree for the last 2-3 years. She is quite artistic – has a good eye, so I trust her ????. So, I am sitting back and relaxing a bit more.
    I love to decorate for fall too. I actually enjoy it more than Christmas, though am taking lessons in relaxing . I pray the “lessons”are sinking in.
    I love the concept of “hygge”, I’ve always loved old-fashioned coziness. I agree with all of your suggestions . I liked a couple that commenters suggested – scent, for one. I’ll add a warm “cuppa” ,as they say across the pond. Maybe that fits under food.

    • aw heather you. are lucky to have a daughter with a good eye! that’s very valuable actually! I totally agree with you on fall vs christmas. like its just reflecting the seasons instead of being a big production. 🙂

  5. Good ideals haveing our home feel cozy all year long is very inportant to my husband and I. We have country style .with all diffrent warm earth tones .and liveing at the beach all year round .but specially in the fall winter . ????can feel blah

  6. Lovely article.

    I recently moved to a 1948 Lakehouse in Idaho’s panhandle. I lived in the house during the renovation and one of the nicest complements I received was repeated comments from my contractors about how “homey” the house was becoming. It doesn’t look new, but is is no longer old, broken, ugly, and inefficient.

    My rooms are open with counter height barstools on the outside of the kitchens, so folks can share in meal prep and projects to preserve the garden harvests. (I put in the garden one raised bed at a time and planted them as soon as I built them.)

    In my purchase offer, I suggested the prior owners leave any of the furniture they didn’t want. I’ve been working through the pieces repairing, refinishing, painting as needed and evening swapped out a dining set at a local consignment store. As a result, I only bought a few new pieces, and the house looks like pieces came to be here over time.

    My biggest complement came from the next door neighbor, the son of the original builder… He said his Mom would be happy with the changes I made to the house. He knows she’d love to visit it.

    I feel very lucky!

  7. I love your site! It’s about the real things, and you seem like a real person who speaks from her heart, not her pocketbook. You have so many welcoming insights!

  8. Some very nice tips one of the best was to have functional over just having things fill a space. We have a dog and have almost always had a dog, they do make a home cozier, especially when it’s cold, they wonderful foot warmers.

  9. Thanks for your thoughts. Cozy is very important to me. Our home is rather dark and doesn’t get much sunlight, which affects me negatively sometimes. I’ve discovered painting my walls with warm colors really add to the cozy. Hanging sheer curtains, letting in as much light as possible also helps. Also installing electric fireplaces. I have 4 in my home and we love them.

  10. I find some Seasonal ambiance/coziness is created with mild fragrances…cinnamon and apples for fall, pine and berries for winter, etc. No need for a diffuser, a simmering pot just for fragrances does well.
    This goes along with your kitchen advice; it’s the smell of coziness that lingers…

  11. I’m really enjoying your blog. I became a stay at home mother six years ago at 56. I became a fulltime caregiver for my stepson who was diagnosed with Huntingtons Disease at 26. I’ve spent the first five years hating it and being resentful. After realizing I needed a attitude, mindset adjustment pronto I came across your blog. It really resonated with me. Great ideas to make my home life cozy and appealing. Thank you…much appreciated.

    • Kimberly thank you so much for letting me know. I hope you give yourself a break as well, that is a huge challenge. ??

    • Thanks Laura!.. I can tell by your blog you are Queen of Cozy and you are going have a beautiful home soon. Can’t wait to see how it all comes together.

  12. I think soft music in the background is really cozy and peaceful. Your article was great and I enjoyed detouring off to see the color transformations in your home!

    • Ughhhhh so long. I started in 2017 and it was a collection of my deep thoughts on consumerism (HA!), then I stopped for a while and restarted with new goals.

  13. I feel like I’ve read every single “how to make your home cozy” article ever written – this is the BEST EVER. I also just read your post on enjoying homemaking – dead on. You write beautifully. I feel like you’ve captured in words the atmosphere I want to create in my home. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you! Cheers!


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