Modern design means clean lines and uncluttered spaces. Unfortunately, it can also mean homes that aren’t exactly cozy. Modern homes with simple color palettes can seem a little cold and sterile, especially in open concept abodes. If you’re struggling with your home feeling (and looking!) too cold, a little warmth can go a long way. Making your home feel welcoming and cozy doesn’t require a huge overhaul. Instead, it’s about highlighting your home’s best features while maintaining the clean aesthetic you love. Here’s how to warm up your sterile spaces without making any major changes.

Use textiles

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Master bedroom with pillows

Textiles make a room feel more inviting. Image: Ana Donahue Interiors

Fabrics are one of the easiest and most effective ways to warm up a sterile space. The flow and texture from different textiles creates a cozy, layered effect. What’s more, those textiles can physically warm up a cold-feeling space. Consider adding these to your space:

  • New curtains. Swap linear blinds for sweeping, billowy curtains instead. Choose simple, sheer curtains or opt for color and patterns to really warm up your space.
  • Rugs. Modern spaces often feature hard-surface floors like concrete and hardwood. Rugs are the perfect way to soften the edges of your hard floors and can help define spaces in an open concept layout.
  • Blankets. Who doesn’t love always having a blanket at the ready? Warm up your home by stacking blankets in a basket or throwing them over the backs of modern furniture. Look for soft fabrics and chunky knits to really increase the cozy factor.
  • Throw pillows. Throw pillows add extra depth to rooms. You can swap them out based on the season or simply pick a few timeless patterns to warm up your space.

Add greenery

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Modern room with plants

Greenery breathes life into modern spaces. Image: Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Even if you’re not much of a green thumb, houseplants are one of the easiest ways to make a house a home. They add texture, color and life to cold rooms. Don’t worry, most houseplants are extremely hardy and easy to care for. The trick to using them to warm up a cold space is to focus on choosing plants of different size, shape and texture. A tall fiddle fig leaf looks cozy tucked next to a squat peace lily. Or, style some tall bamboo shoots with a few succulents. You’ll be surprised at how quickly a few plants turn a room from sterile to snug.

Mix furniture

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Violet living room

Mix furniture styles for a personalized look. Image: Nina Interior

Furniture stores often sell pieces as pre-matched sets to take the guesswork out of picking out sofas and chairs. If you want a cozy space, however, ditch the perfectly-matched furniture for something with more personality. Mixing different types of furniture makes a home look more lived-in, which is important for a sterile space. Put your streamlined coffee table with an overstuffed leather couch, or mix your midcentury modern sofa with more ornate end tables.

Change the lighting

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Modern stone bathroom

Warm lighting transforms a cold space. Image: Sian Baxter Lighting Design

Lighting can really dictate the way a space feels. If your home has bright, blue-toned LED lights and you rely mostly on overhead lighting, it will likely feel sterile and cold. Warm the space up by simply changing your light bulbs to warm-hued LEDs and adding accent lights. Sure, you might not use that reading lamp every time you enter your living room, but it’s the perfect accent when you want to warm up the space for guests or a relaxed night at home.

Bring in color

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Modern living room with teal accents

A pop of color brightens a sterile space. Image: Katherine Wills

White on white has been the color palette du jour for a couple of years. It makes sense, with more and more people looking to create simple spaces that are both clean and uncluttered. But, in your quest for a streamlined space, don’t be afraid of using color along the way. An accent wall here or a bright dresser there won’t disrupt your home’s zen appeal and will add just a touch of personality. Instead of a home that feels sterile and impersonal, a pop of color makes the space truly yours.

Layer accessories

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Modern family room

Layer accessories on top of each other for more depth. Image: Adele Lapointe

If you’d rather keep furniture, walls and woodwork simple, you can create warmth using the accessories in your home. The way you style your coffee table or bookshelves, for instance, can add depth and personality. One interior design secret is to layer your accessories to create visual interest without adding clutter. Layer a metal sphere on top of a stack of coffee table books or layer two rugs on top of one another. Re-imagining your accessories and decor as distinct layers helps you find new ways to display your favorite things to add personality and charm to your space.

Add natural textures

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Warm modern wood kitchen

Use natural materials for a cozy look. Image: Design First Interiors

Modern homes and spaces often feature materials like metal, glass and concrete. It makes for clean lines, but doesn’t do much for charm or character. Adding natural textures helps warm up the space and bring a little of the outside world in. Woven baskets to hold blankets or books help warm up a cold living room. A wood utensil caddy and wooden bowls add texture to an impersonal kitchen. Use stone, wood and greenery to help bring life into any space.

Clean, uncluttered spaces make sense when you want your home to feel calm and peaceful. Unfortunately, the very design features that make your home feel zen can also make it feel a little cold. By adding the right accessories, textures and colors to a room, you can preserve that peaceful feeling while making sure your place feels warm, cozy and inviting.

If your home is too cold even for these tips, you may need to service or replace your HVAC unit. An HVAC expert in your area can help make sure that your home is truly warm and cozy.