Decorating Tips

10 Ways To Create Moody Interiors

June 24, 2015

Let’s talk about moody, cozy interiors and how to create them. I know, I know… Summer just kicked off but we’ve had pretty bad weather with lots of rainy gray days so I’m working hard to maintain sanity by creating a cozy nest at home. Having the right home environment gets me through times when all I can think about is being outdoors with my little one surrounded by flowers, ice cream and sunlight. On gray days the only thing that gets me through are candles, music, coffee, Amy Winehouse, preparing nice meals and inviting over friends frequently. That’s my recipe for a cozy home no matter what the weather forecast. But there’s more and I have created a list of 10 ways for you to create a moody, cozy interior. But first, How do you create a cozy mood at home?

10 Ways To Create Moody Interiors

I was looking over the portfolio of Debi Treloar this morning, who photographed two of my books, and discovered she has lots of wonderfully moody interiors images on her website. She has photographed many books that are permanent staples in my library. I just love her work because she creates such a moody vibe in all of her interiors, even the light and bright homes we’ve worked together in. I’ve taken a few photos from her portfolio to highlight not only her beautiful work but to illustrate my point of what I mean by moody, cozy interiors. First, rooms don’t always need to be dark (as in lights off) or in deep, saturated colors. This is a common misconception in my opinion. When most people think about moody interiors they imagine the image below. Granted, that is indeed moody but the image above is also moody and the walls appear to be eggshell.

10 Ways To Create Moody Interiors

Creating a moody, cozy home is not as easy as one may think.

  1. LIGHTING. To me, it’s about letting in just the right about natural light – generally filtered through curtains, shutters or blinds so you have some shadow “play”. When it comes to artificial lighting, lights on a dimmer switch work perfectly vs. a bright cafeteria vibe in the dining room. Tealights and candles and strings of twinkle lights running along a shelf, above a doorway, in a big glass jar.
  2. TACTILE / SCENTED /COMFORT /SOUND. It’s about incorporate tactile objects, things that just feel and smell good that are mostly natural. Found objects from the forest, fur throws, cable knit lap blankets, soy candles… Things that look comfortable and evoke a “stay awhile” mood  – like a squishy sofa, fluffy pillows, a thick wool pile rug on the floor. Baking is amazing. Bake a cake, cookies, a loaf of bread. My god that’s comforting. And music. Always music. I have music playing as I type this. I have it playing in my home nearly all day, every day. French jazz or Frank Sinatra in the kitchen, children’s music and classical when I’m playing in my son’s room, singer/songwriter tunes in our bedroom, my iTunes playlists in my office.
  3. MINDFUL. Living in the moment. Your state of mind. Noticing special moments like steam from a kettle, the flicking of candlelight, the soft glow of a lamp in the corner with a velvet shade slightly tilted…
  4. STYLE. A more eclectic room traditionally feels more cozy than a minimalistic one.
  5. LIFE. Your family playing a board game or watching a film, flowers, plants, even pets, though certainly not a lifestyle object, create a feeling of love and comfort. Kittens on a sofa? Yes please! Being alone can also be cozy but for extroverts like me, often it makes us feel a bit isolated and alone which isn’t a cozy heart feeling. You essentially can express cozy warmth through your own moments – burning incense, baking bread, brewing coffee or my favorite, making lapsang souchong tea with it’s delicious smoky scent and taste –  milk and a little raw sugar – utter perfection. So the mood of a space is one part decor and one part you.
  6. HISTORY. Vintage items, books, art. Worn items, not everything needs to be shiny and new. In fact, lots of new things can appear sterile.
  7. COLLECTIONS. Photos, quirky ceramic vases, favorite records, stacked textiles. Mini collections on display or tucked away behind glass cabinet doors lend much to a moody, cozy vibe.
  8. COLOR. What makes you feel cozy and brings emotional depth to your space IS cozy. I don’t feel cozy around red walls of any tone. Red makes me excited and anxious. Deep blue or emerald calms me. Dark brown gives me a depressed feeling. You may have the opposite feelings around these colors. That’s why books that push color as being the only way to a happy home annoy me because not everyone IS happy living around a lot of bonkers color. Beige is only boring if you don’t like beige, it’s not boring to the person who adores and feels safe around. I vote NO JUDGEMENT. Beige can be sexy, sensual and very classy and warm. Bright color is the one thing people experiment the most with to lend a cozy vibe but the bevy of books showing colorful interiors out there fail to explain color theory 101 and the importance of selecting ones that work for you, not against you – and suit your home the best. Rooms saturated in sunlight all day require different colors than a room that is generally very dark due to the direction the room is facing or a lack of windows or natural light in general.
  9. PATTERN. Pattern is one major saving grace for renters who cannot paint their walls. Art, throw rugs, cushions, the pattern in the leaves of your favorite plant, the pattern of a single palm leaf in a vase, patterns of ceiling tiles or a herringbone hardwood floor. Pattern rules.
  10. UNEXPECTED. This has got to be my favorite decorating go-tos, aside from collections. I love a touch of the unexpected. A dose of the unknown. A moment of quirk. I love it when things aren’t styled perfectly, or 100% neat, or uncluttered to perfection. I love when I see my son’s handprint on the window because he frequently stands in the same spot in the dining room looking down at the train several floors below exclaiming in his adorable baby voice, “u-bahn, u-bahn!”. I love when linen sheets are wrinkled. I love coffee mug stains on my white wooden table. I was styling a home once and the homeowner put on her red Chanel lipstick and left a big kiss on her bathroom mirror with two xx near it. She was single. It was a reminder (at least to me) to love yourself more. These unexpected touches are beautiful and absolutely cozy because they are genuine.

10 Ways To Create Moody Interiors


10 Ways To Create Moody Interiors

10 Ways To Create Moody Interiors

10 Ways To Create Moody Interiors

10 Ways To Create Moody Interiors

10 Ways To Create Moody Interiors

10 Ways To Create Moody Interiors

10 Ways To Create Moody Interiors

How do you make your home cozy and inviting?

Psst: Debi is currently on location globetrotting with Hans Blomquist shooting his next book which I’m sure will be a total stunner (Remember Hans? Here’s a review of his last book shot by Debi).

(Photography with permission from Debi Treloar)


  • Reply Coco June 24, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    This has to be my favorite post you ever posted online. I love this! Thank you so much. I actually just painted my kitchen/dining-room in black blue from farrow and ball. It adds tones of moodiness to my new – I bit too stylish – kitchen. The other half of the kitchen, which happen to be more in the living room area, i painted in Ammonite also from f&b which is a grayish beige color. It brings a lovey mood into our all white living room. Although I love white interiors, for myself this brings such cozyness to our home!

    As for quirks we have painted our piano in bright yellow. I’ve nothing in yellow, so I was holding my breath for how it would turn out. But it definitely adds a fun touch!

  • Reply Candice@NotesFromABroad June 24, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    “Moody” is difficult to achieve. You either get a room that looks way too dark and eventually depressing .
    I personally prefer my Moody to be in shades of blue and grey with a lot of soft places to loll around .. regardless of mood.
    In my home, I try to balance the “moody” with the “light” … a colorful Oriental rug will brighten a dark sofa with multicolored pillows etc.
    I never want dark painted walls in my home .. it is just immediately gloomy .

  • Reply Susanne Sideras June 24, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Gorgeously moody post. Couldn’t agree more with nr. 10. Life is not styled perfectly but has lots of room for the unexpected and imperfect beauty.

  • Reply Dina June 25, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks! I enjoyed this column very much!

  • Reply Carie June 25, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    Wow that deep blue is stunning! Our house can be quite dark so I’m wary of dark colours in the decor for fear of just looking dingy do for me cozy is about food, cooking up a storm in the kitchen, and then curling up in our pile of my quilts with knitted fluffy socks on – perfect!

  • Reply Tessa June 27, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    These photos are just gorgeous! My mother’s house always seems rather cosy as there are a lot of warm tones around, including the colour of the walls which are mostly an apricot white. It’s lovely!

  • Reply Stephanie Bell June 29, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    What a lovely post, with equally as lovely photos. I have to completely agree with your very first point, it is all about the lighting for me. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Alexsa Silva June 30, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    I love this post, finally someone talking about a moody room which is not dark and in my view scary and ‘ugly’. Defo agree, moody = cozy!
    Some of the pictures took me right back to my childhood, rooms with beautiful and big plants and the rustic floor with old tiles, happy memories. No home is ever perfect but we can definitely make it cozy, that’s why it’s called HOME!! Thank you

  • Reply Maria del mar July 1, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Creating mood is a PROJECT indeed. I am in the mood to change my living room. I saw 2 things i likes in those pics.

  • Reply Joanne Vroom July 7, 2015 at 3:50 am

    Great post! I love the different textures and the plumpness of the bed cushions and sofa cushions!

  • Reply Drew July 9, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    I love these rooms! You can see how simple these designs are but they really come together quite well. I’m feeling pretty inspired for my own living room now. Thanks for posting.

  • Reply elise August 18, 2015 at 2:09 am

    do you know what paint is used in that first white room? love it so much.

  • Reply WG&R Furniture October 15, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    These are such great ideas!!! We love unique spaces that tell a story or even better invites you in to cozy up and relax. Adding vintage accessories will not only add charm to your space but it will also add a story or memory to your room.

  • Reply Sarah April 2, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    I know I’m about 2 years late but found this post while looking for some words to describe a moody room. This was so helpful and informative, and makes me want to learn so much more about what makes a room come together. Thanks Holly!

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