Softly, Softly


    By Gabrielle Fagan

    Dropping temperatures and dark nights mean summer days are gone, but rather than lamenting their passing, soften the effect of the changing seasons by creating wicked-looking winter rooms.

    This year, the two hot trends for the season are seductive sanctuary or rustic retreat. You can be purist and opt for one or the other, or simply reflect elements of each in a room – both will bring instant warmth, comfort and luxury.

    Those are, of course, the vital ingredients of Hygge (pronounced ‘hu-gah’), the Danish word for cosy, peaceful wellbeing which is having a bit of a moment right now.

    “Hygge can be described as a state of being and of finding joy in the simple pleasures of everyday life,” says Johnny Jackson, co-author of The Art of Hygge: How to Bring Danish Cosiness into Your Life (Summersdale, £9.99).

    “Help yourself enjoy it by making your home a sanctuary and a delight to the senses, with soft furnishings made of luxurious fabrics, and it will be a place where you can unwind and feel completely rested. When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing lovelier than curling up on a sofa, sitting in front of a flickering fire, or snuggling under a cosy blanket or quilt.”


    A pared-back setting allows elegant pieces to star and creates a sophisticated tranquil space, where distracting clutter is banished.

    “As the temperature drops, we spend more time indoors and hanker after intimate spaces for snuggling,” says Jenny Gibbs, founder and principal of KLC School of Design (

    “Neutral schemes are the perfect backdrop for this look and can be layered up with subtle pattern and texture, such as wool, velvet, mohair, tweed or herringbone.

    “Cushions and throws on chairs and sofas positively invite winter lounging, table lights conjure attractive pools of light zoning spaces, and a setting feels even more intimate if, beside a chair, there’s a low side table and candlelight.”

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    COSY MAX: Warm up wood or stone floors with wool or sheepskin rugs, an appropriate way to banish cold toes and celebrate UK Wool Week (October 10-16).

    Room diffusers and scented candles with overtones of herbs, fruit and spices, and baskets of berries or pine cones, are ideal seasonal finishing touches.

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    CREATE COSY: The White Company’s furniture range is made for chic, indulgent spaces, with a Petersham Sofa, upholstered in soft velvet, a truly luxurious choice at £2,100.

    It teams beautifully with a velvet Beaufort Ottoman at £650. A Sheepskin Beanbag, from £895, would be ideal for informal extra seating.

    Scent the air with a seasonal Winter Signature Candle, £20, redolent with the aromas of cinnamon, cloves and oranges.

    If space is limited, simply kit out a corner with a Pudding Armchair in Thatch House fabric, £795, from Loaf, and ramp up the comfort with a Chunky Herringbone Throw in gorgeous Earth wool, £129, from Hoo-gah, specialists in Scandinavian homeware.

    B&Q’s Concrete Grey Faux Fur Throw is fabulous, too, and only £50.

    A trunk works well as a side table, and The White Lighthouse has a well-priced Storage Trunk in faux leather, £80.

    Cosy toes are essential: The Rug Seller’s selection features a Softness Shaggy Circular Rug in cream or grey from £34.99.

    Pay a nod to the fashionable country trend with Next’s wooden-effect Stag Head wall plaque, £55, and use a Giant Wicker Log Basket With Handles, £94.90, The Farthing, beside a hearth or to hide clutter.