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Finishing touches: Styling guide for a homely home

July 11, 2024

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One of the most regular types of enquiries we get here at Hygge & Cwtch Design Studio is about finishing touches. When a room is almost done and dusted, but needs an element of styling to bring it all together and really make it feel like home. It seems to be a tricky task for many people, and we completely understand why. The challenge is knowing how to start and knowing when to stop.

We often find that clients who come to us have spent money, time and energy on decorating or renovating, and have styled it with the usual suspects of cushions, lighting and mirrors. But then what? It still feels incomplete and the feeling that they were trying to achieve just doesn’t come through.

Styling at our St Cadoc project. Photography credit: Aga Hosking

To the other extreme, with so much choice available it can be very easy to over-accessorise. Filling a space with meaningless items which result in a lack of finesse and personality, which is so important in a home.

As renowned mid-century designer, Charles Eames, once said: “The details are not the details. They make the design”.

But getting those details just-so is a skill, and we’re here to share some advice on how to do it the Hygge & Cwtch way.

Intentional Styling

Think simplicity. Pared back, yet meaningful. Not an over-filled room of accessories which just happen to be in the right colour palette. Not every shelf or wall has to be filled. White space is essential in creating a sense of ebb and flow through a room and to allow the finishing touches and focal points to really breathe and shine.

Put simply, when it comes to styling your home, don’t include anything that you don’t truly love or that doesn’t mean anything to you.

Simply styled shelving at our Beach Road project. Photography credit: Kathryn Taylor
Books, greenery and precious items. Photography credit: Kathryn Taylor

You’re not creating a show home, you’re creating a beautiful, personalised space that makes you feel content and happy. This can only be done when you feel connected to everything around you. Whether you love it for its visual appeal or for sentimental reasons, if an item has meaning to you and evokes the emotions that you want to feel in that space, then it belongs there.

Another piece of advice, which is important to note here, is that styling your home should never feel completely ‘done’. Informal, unfinished design is all about leaving space – both literally and mentally – for a room to evolve over time. New meaningful items may come into your life. They deserve a place where you can reap the rewards of seeing them every day. Our homes should live and grow with us, and the styling of our homes should be an organic and ever-changing process.

Curate a feeling

During the design stage of a project, you would identify a preferred style which is going to evoke certain feelings when you’re in the room. It’s important therefore, that the finishing touches support and enhance this feeling.

The types of finishes, how you use colour and your choice of accessories can really impact the overall aesthetic and vibe of a room. 

Styling for a quiet luxe, cosy feel at our Marshfield Rd project. Photography: Aga Hosking

Our design style here at Hygge & Cwtch is very simple and organic. We like to create calming environments which aid wellbeing. So naturally, our go-to styling pieces involve lots of natural wood and textures, and always, tonnes of plants to harness the power of biophillic design. Touches of black or brass finishes in the styling pieces contrast beautifully with wood and give that quiet luxe vibe which elevates a design into something special.

To us, being at home is to be comfortable and content. So layering lots of textures through cushions, blankets and rugs, alongside personal items such as books and family photos on the shelves really gives that lived-in, cosy vibe. Kelley Carter, as quoted in The Interior Design Handbook by Frida Ramstedt, categorises this type of styling as ‘signs of life’, simply putting the importance on those everyday items that give ‘the wonderful sense that someone has made themselves at home’. (The Interior Design Handbook,Frida Ramstedt, 2019 page 117).

A room full of texture and signs of life. Grosvenor project photography: Aga Hosking

Picture all of this alongside intentionally placed bursts of colour and print which you love. Can you begin to imagine how a room can come to life and feel like your home?

Make you smile styling in every room of the house. Greenfield project photography: Aga Hosking


Create a journey with your styling

A top tip for styling a room is to create a series of ‘moments’ which flow through a space.

Imagine taking a photograph of a nook, an alcove, a corner, a shelf… whatever it might be, and it being almost a contained, beautifully styled unit. One which makes you stop and admire that little section of the room every time.

Then imagine having multiple ‘moments’ throughout a room which, when you take a step back and survey the room in full, all work together and add something different to the space. Some may be real wow moments, some may have a lighter touch but are simple and beautiful to you. 

A series of ‘moments’ in the dining room of our Fidlas St project. Photography: Aga Hosking

As we said earlier, white space is essential to not over crowding a room and giving it space to breathe. So don’t feel that you need a visual feast for the eyes at every turn. Space out your moments. Get a feeling for the flow of the room and how you ideally want to move through it.

With this in mind, the styling of the room should feel joined up and connected. You want to lead the eye seamlessly from one piece to the next. Something of interest to look at on the wall perhaps, leading you towards an armchair next to a cosy fire, styled with a simple log store and a side table with coasters and a book. Simple, meaningful moments, drawing you through a room with the ultimate aim of inviting you to sit down and relax.

Styling for the senses

Drawing on our five senses to create a positive sensory experience is a technique to use when designing a home for our wellbeing. As put simply by Pippa Jameson, author of The Sensory Home, “our sensory response to everything we see, hear, touch, smell and taste will determine our emotions and sense of wellbeing in a space”.

So when styling your home, use your senses as a checklist to determine what you need to create the emotional response that you want. Let’s look at some examples…

It’s easy to underestimate the power of scent for setting a mood in a room. For us, candles are a must-have styling item. The smell and sight of a gentle flame can create such a sense of warmth and relaxation.

Styling in action!
The final look at our Fidlas Rd project. The candles, the faux fur and the natural wood are a feast for the five senses. Photography: Aga Hosking

Acoustics are important to consider as sound has such an impact on our physiological responses. A beautiful, calming environment can easily be ruined by external noises. Consider styling with textures to help sound absorption. Fabric wall hangings, extra cushions and thicker curtains can activate the touch sense, will visually cosy-up a space and can hugely help with the acoustics.

Taste can seem irrelevant to interior design. But remember, we’re creating a positive sensory experience and styling is all in the details! Perhaps a hygge moment in your life is a peaceful 10 minutes with your morning coffee. Maybe you’ve designed a space where you plan to sit every day to enjoy it. Would it be as enjoyable if there are no coasters to put your cup down? Instead you find yourself holding it uncomfortably so you don’t leave coffee rings on a surface? A set of beautiful coasters should be your first styling item. It’s simple, practical and without even realising it, you’ve improved the sensory experience of your space and that morning coffee will taste even better.

A considered coffee spot at our Rose Cottage project. Photography credit: Ross Sheppard

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