Decorate with the Senses for a Feel-Good Home

A home that delights the senses puts us instantly at ease — just think of the warmth of a crackling fire, the scent of baking bread, or the flicker of candlelight. Makes you feel all cozy inside, right? We tend to get hung up thinking about how our homes look, without giving nearly as much thought to how they make us feel. But if you want to walk in the door at the end of a long day and feel that great big, delightful sigh of relief (and who doesn’t?), it’s time to tap into the power of the senses.

Sarah Andrews via Design Sponge

Warmth. At its most basic, our homes are shelter from the elements. By playing up your home’s warming elements — think crackling fires, cozy blankets, and thick, cushy rugs — we can access this fundamental human need to feel snug and safe. If you don’t have a woodstove or working fireplace, you can still suggest warmth by stacking up a pile of rustic firewood or a basket of pinecones, and bringing in other cozy accessories like good books, mugs of tea, and soft blankets.

Sarah Andrews via Design Sponge

Views. Whether your home’s best view is to a stunning seascape like the one shown here, or a more modest sliver of green, aim to make the most of what you’ve got. A connection to the outdoors — even if you’re in the middle of a city — can extend sight lines, make your home feel more spacious, and bring in the changing blues and grays of the sky. If possible, try shifting furniture to position a desk or favorite armchair so it’s angled to better enjoy the view out a window.

Stephanie Ryan
 via Design Sponge

Texture. Playing up texture in the home is all about contrast. Look at the fabric and other materials of your home up close and count how many different textures you can find. If it’s less than five, aim to add a few more! Mix it up with nubby linen, crisp cotton, rustic wood, woven rattan, silk, smooth leather, and shiny glass or metal.

Sofia Jansson
 via Design Sponge

Soundscape. What you hear in your home can have a big impact on your mood. Can you hear nature sounds out the windows, or traffic? If the sounds around your home are ones you’d rather not hear, consider investing in better sound-proofing, or a small tabletop fountain to create a burbling white noise. Next, take some time to think about what sort of music you most enjoy listening to. Consider curating playlists for yourself on Spotify, or within your personal music library, to suit different moods.


Scent (and taste). Scented candles might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of scent at home, but there are many other ways to create layers of delicious scents at home. Pick out potted houseplants with scents you love (scented geranium is a favorite of mine), use cleaning products infused with essential oils, light natural beeswax candles, and don’t forget to open up the windows to let in the fresh breeze! And as far as taste goes, consider keeping your pantry stocked with wonderful-smelling teas and local honey, and growing a few pots of fresh culinary herbs in the window.

Focal Point

Focal point. Having a visual focal point is an interior design principle that you can put to work in every room in the house. In the space shown here, a wild purple-painted piano tucked into a nook covered in leafy wallpaper is sure to grab the eye! Your focal point can be as dramatic — or as soothing — as you like. Consider hanging a single work of art, using a rug in a rich hue, or putting the spotlight on a single great chair.

Little Lights
Stephanie Ryan via Design Sponge

Mood lighting. Last but not least, think about how light flows through your home. Do certain rooms get a lot of natural light, while others are dim? Boost lighting where needed with lamps, strands of twinkle lights, and plenty of candles for a diffused glow that makes everyone look (and feel) better.

Rug Shopping Guide
Rug Shopping Guide: (fantastically textured rugs, clockwise from top left) Surya Anchorage in taupe; Surya Sheepskin in white; Artistic Weavers Kentucky Ethan in brown; Karastan Prima Shag Fassi in ivory, cream, and taupe.

For more inspiration from Laura, follow along with her at!

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Spa-Like Touches for the Bath

In the middle of winter, there’s nothing better than coming in from the cold to enjoy a leisurely soak in the tub or a hot shower. Elevate the experience even more by adding one or two (or more) of these small, spa-like touches to your bathroom. Once you do, you may never want to leave!

Emily Henderson

Whitespace. Give your bathroom a fresh start by clearing out all the clutter and giving the space a thorough scrubbing. If the walls are looking dingy, consider adding a fresh coat of paint in crisp white or a soothing hue like silvery blue.

Candles. Who can resist the soft glow of candlelight while soaking in the tub? No one.

Artwork. I’m a big fan of hanging artwork you love in the bathroom, with a caveat — it shouldn’t be priceless. The humidity and unstable temperature of the bathroom can damage artwork over time. But if you have a well-ventilated room and the art didn’t cost a fortune, go for it!

Design Sponge

Living plants. Fresh green plants lift our mood, clean the air, and breathe life into what can sometimes be a bland, sterile room. Plus, many plants do well in the humid conditions of the bathroom. Try ferns, palms, or even orchids.

A bath tray. If you’re lucky enough to have a real, honest-to-goodness bathtub to soak in, make the experience even better with the addition of a bath tray. This wooden tray that sits across the tub can hold your book and a mug of tea safely out of the water, or simply offer a spot to stash that fancy bar of soap you’ve been saving.

Amber Interiors

Good towels. If your towels are looking a little worse for the wear, splurging on a great set of new towels can really make a difference in how your bathroom looks and feels. A stack of pretty white waffle weave towels exudes that luxury spa vibe, while the striped-and-fringed versions seen here will give your bath a more eclectic Moroccan mood.

Organizing tools. Don’t skimp on good organizational tools! The right tools can make your bath products easier to find, and give your shelving and drawers a neater, more polished look. Try clear glass apothecary jars for decanted supplies (like cotton balls), and baskets and trays for everything else.

Emily Henderson

Fixture upgrade. Upgrade your shower head, replace the mirror above the sink, repaint the cabinets, or swap a regular door for a salvaged barn door on sliders. Get creative and see what you can change!

A pretty rug. Look down: if your bathroom floor is still sporting a furry synthetic bath mat, consider swapping it for a more modern option. For practical purposes, I love a good flat-woven cotton rug that you can toss in the wash regularly — see below for some great options.

Rug Shopping Guide: (Flat-woven 100% cotton rugs, clockwise from top left) Safavieh Montauk in ivory and gray; Rizzy Home Flip Top Circle Stripes in gray and orange; Safavieh Rag Rug in ivory; Safavieh Montauk in ivory, blue, and black.

For more inspiration from Laura, follow along with her at!

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5 Ways to Perk Up Your Home With Color

It’s always around this point — about halfway through winter — that the gray skies begin to take their toll. Enough already, we want some color! Since spring is still a flip of the calendar away, it’s time to take matters into our own hands. So pour yourself a mug of something hot to drink, and feast your eyes on these sunny, happy projects, and quick ideas. Then pick one (or more!) to try, and see your home bloom with glorious, rich color.

Amelia Tatnall Lawrence for Paper & Stitch

Idea #1 — Add fresh flowers, fruit, and books. This is so quick, easy, and affordable, you’ll want to keep it on repeat. The next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up a bouquet of fresh flowers (anything that catches your eye), and a bag of citrus fruit. When you get home, pile the fruit into a pretty bowl, put the flowers in a vase of water, and set both on your coffee table. Clear away the random papers and other junk, and place a pretty stack of books from your own bookshelves on the table beside the flowers and fruit. And voila, you have a colorful, beautifully styled coffee table sure to light up the whole room.

Amelia Tatnall Lawrence for Mollie Makes magazine

Idea #2 — Paint a half-wall. It’s true that this project requires significantly more effort than, say, buying a bouquet of flowers. But it’s a lot quicker and easier than painting a whole room! Painting just half a wall, in fact, takes much less time than you probably think (just a few hours), and the results are so darn cool, it’s well worth the effort.

Tip: Pick a wall where the base color is already white (or at least a pale neutral), and splurge on the high-quality painter’s tape to make a really crisp line with ease.

Paper & Stitch

Idea #3 — DIY Stick-on tiles. If you have a really dated floor you’d love to cover with on-trend cement tiles, but need a more budget-friendly option, this DIY from Paper & Stitch could be just the thing for you. By customizing peel-and-stick vinyl tiles with a DIY painted on pattern, you can create a really unique floor covering without breaking the bank.

Note: This project is not recommended for renters, because the glue backing may leave a residue when you remove the tiles.

Amelia Tatnall Lawrence for Mollie Makes magazine

Idea #4 — Frame some large-scale artwork. Adding a great big framed poster to a wall, or atop a credenza, is a great way to add big-impact color without spending a fortune or doing anything permanent to your space. So if you’re a renter, and dream of being able to paint the walls or stick cool tiles on the floors, this can be a really lovely alternative. Choose art with your heart, without worrying about what anyone else will think. It’s your home, and it should make you happy…end of story!

Paper & Stitch

Idea #5 — Layer on colorful textiles. Rolling out a new rug or adding a warm throw to your sofa or favorite chair are foolproof ways to add color to your space. In the room shown here, a simple white throw was upgraded with handmade tassels for a colorful twist.

Whichever projects you choose to try, here’s to a cozy winter…and an early spring!

Rug shopping guide: (clockwise from top left) Safavieh Bellagio in red and pink; Feizy Rugs Arushi in orange; Kaleen Rosaic rug in lime green; Safavieh Soho rug in rust.

For more inspiration from Laura, follow along with her at!

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How To Get the Right Size Rug

The right rug can make your living room cozy and warm, add color and pattern to the dining room, and give your feet something cushy to sink into when you hop out of bed in the morning. But getting the right size rug for your space is one of the most common decorating mistakes around. Luckily, with a few handy rug-sizing rules of thumb, you can learn how to choose the perfectly sized rug for your space with confidence, every time.


Measure your furniture arrangement first. When it comes to the living room, the ideal rug is large enough that all of the living room furniture fits on top of it, as shown above. The simplest way to figure out how much rug you need is to measure the perimeter of your seating area first, and then order the next rug size up from that. For example, if your seating area measures about 7×9 feet, an 8×10 foot rug would be just right. If you can’t swing that, opt for a rug large enough to scootch under the front legs of the major pieces of furniture (sofa and armchairs).

Harlowe James

Layer up. If you already have a rug you love, but it’s not quite big enough for your current space, feel free to “cheat” by layering it atop a neutral natural fiber rug, as shown here. This is also a great way to be able to splurge on a fancier rug, and yet still get your entire living space covered.


Measure from the foot of the nightstands. In the bedroom, your rug should start just below the nightstands, so take your measurement starting there, and past the edges of your bed by at least two feet on each side and at the foot. As in the living room, you really can’t go too big with your rug, so when in doubt, order the larger of two sizes you’re considering.

Always Rooney

Pair a smaller rug with fluffy bedside rugs. As in the living room, if your bedroom rug is too small, no worries. You have options! In this case, the thing to do is pull your small area rug to the foot of the bed. Either place the bottom feet of the bed on the rug, or not, depending on the rug size. Then, boost your small rug with a cozy, fluffy runner or sheepskin on each bedside…perfect for sinking your feet into on a chilly morning!

My Scandinavian Home

Measure with your dining chairs scooted out. Your dining room rug should be large enough that chairs won’t get caught up on it when you (or a guest) scoots their chair out to get up. To get the right size, add about two feet to each side of your dining room table to allow room for scooting. Or simply pull out the chairs as much as you would if you were going to sit down, and measure on all sides.

Whitten Architects

Go wider than you think in hallways. Leaving a six-inch border of exposed floor on all sides of a runner will make your hallway look warm and inviting. A too-narrow runner, on the other hand, will just look dinky! Measure the width and length of your hallway, subtract six inches from each side, and order the nearest available rug size for a perfect fit.

Right Size Rugs
Rug shopping guide: (Clockwise from top left) Safavieh Amsterdam in ivory and light blue; Safavieh Tunisia in ivory; Safavieh Amsterdam in light gray; Surya Jill Rosenwald Bjorn in dark brown, black, and khaki.

For more inspiration from Laura, follow along with her at!

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