What Makes a Comfortable Home?

Austin Interior Designer Amity Worrel Shares the Elements of a Cozy Home Interior


What makes a comfortable home? Well, the concept of comfort is personal to each of us. It’s an idea shaped by memories, aspirations, traditions, and tastes. While I take comfort in the restored mid-century ranch home of my childhood, others may have the desire to recreate the feeling of the California coast or mimic a mountain home retreat

Comfort, however, is only subjective up to a certain point. Once you get past aesthetics, the principles of comfort become universal — driven by our natural desire to feel secure and at ease. After all, we’re human. We need places to eat, sleep, and congregate, and these areas must function for the tasks at hand. We need living room furnishings scaled to the human form. We need appliances in the kitchen to cook dinner. We need a table and chairs in the dining room to share meals. (Although, I hear many folks out there prefer to eat in bed. So perhaps a dining set isn’t necessary for each of us.) Regardless, take a look at your home. Does it have all the elements of a cozy home interior, or does it feel challenging to live in?  

Is Your Home Interior Comfortable or Challenging? 

A comfortable home welcomes you in and meets all of your anticipated needs without much thought. There’s a front table to set down your keys, a plush warm rug underfoot, and plenty of places to sit and relax. A challenging home lacks these little luxuries — even a sofa to sit on sometimes! Steve Jobs famously didn’t have a sofa, chairs, or really any place to sit down in his family home for years. As someone so honed in on the details, he couldn’t find anything perfect enough to suit him. So, he simply went without. Designer Bill Diamond of Diamond Baratta was also known to live without furnishings in his home despite the elaborate rooms he decorated for clients. He was reported to have only a TV and mattress on the floor for years, which hardly compared to the lush, comfortable spaces he created for others. Perhaps he devoted all of his energy to his clients without leaving any to complete his own home. Maybe it felt too much like work to design for himself, so going without was his own twisted take on comfort. Either way, it’s easy to see how empty living rooms and mattresses on the floor make for challenging spaces. The spartan quality is hardly comforting. 

The Human Desire for Comfort and Refuge 

While Jobs’s and Diamond’s empty abodes avoided the frustrations of living with imperfect pieces, they certainly didn’t deliver on the human desire for comfort. We all have a primal instinct for a safe refuge, something we often take for granted until we experience the lack of it.  In My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle, played by Audrey Hepburn, sang of her desire for a comfortable home. 

All I want is a room somewhere

Far away from the cold night air

With one enormous chair

Oh, wouldn’t it be loverly?

Warmth and safety are two instinctual human needs, but claiming ownership of our space also makes up a significant element of comfort. It’s adding the personal mark, like an enormous chair in our favorite color, that makes it inviting and comfortable for us.

Similarly, Virginia Woolf wrote about the importance of comfort in the productivity and enjoyment of our lives in her essay, A Room of One’s Own. She makes the point, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” During her time, men could enjoy the luxuries of privacy for uninterrupted devotion to their work and pastimes, while women rarely had the opportunity. Having our own comfortable space is a necessary component of our independence and contentment. 

Truly comfortable spaces must go beyond our basic need for shelter, supplying ease and function that allows us to thrive in our pursuits and recharge at the end of the day. 

Here’s What Makes a Comfortable Home in My Opinion

As an interior designer, it’s my job to create comfortable spaces where people can be themselves, feel inspired, and recuperate from the world outside. These are my must-have elements of a cozy home interior. 

Proper Lighting

Lighting design is crucial for providing adequate function and setting the mood of the space. After all, light controls our perception of a room’s visual elements. A balance must be found between natural light and light fixtures in the space. Light color temperature is also important and gets very technical very quickly. A good rule of thumb is to go for warmer glow bulbs and ensure consistency among fixtures. Window treatments are also necessary to control natural light and add privacy when needed. 

Sound Control 

For me, quiet rooms are comfortable rooms. Even if you like to have some background noise playing, you need to have the sound quality under control. Layering in textiles and soft furnishings helps to absorb sounds and reduce the amount of noise and echo. Plus, it has the bonus of a cozy visual quality too. 

Cozy Upholstery

Whether velvet, twill, or linen, upholstered furniture adds cozy comfort that invites you to curl up. Furnishings should be adaptable, seamlessly transitioning from your mid-afternoon nap to hosting friends and family. I make it a goal to include upholstered seating in every room. 

Warm Area Rugs

Tile and wood floors are beautiful and practical but don’t offer the same comfort underfoot as a plush area rug. Rugs will improve the sound quality of your space, add warmth, and keep your feet delighted as you walk through your home. I highly recommend them. 

Lots of Seating

My home has become the hangout spot for my kids and their friends, and it’s because I have more places to sit and hang out than the other parents. Incorporate as much seating as the room allows to ensure everyone has a comfortable spot. And it is possible. I recently outfitted a small Palm Springs living room with seating for sixteen! I also like to separate conversation rooms from TV rooms so the seating can be arranged more purposefully. 

Beautiful Objects

I need to look at beautiful things to feel a true sense of comfort. So, beautiful objects must be on display. While this may seem like a superfluous detail when it comes to comfort, decorating your space with objects helps convey your style and make the room your own. Does a plush sofa in a white room of unadorned walls truly feel comfortable? Having that claim over the space is key to feeling at home in it. 

Choosing Comfort 

The outside world is challenging enough. So, why spend your life challenged by an uncomfortable home? While it may seem easier to forgo the process of selecting furnishings, choosing upholstery fabrics, and displaying your collections, these elements transform cold spaces into rooms full of inspiration and refuge. Make your home your respite and create a comfortable place to recharge. 

It’s time to choose comfort. 

Amity Worrel

Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.



Amity Worrel & Co, Austin Interior Designer, interior design trends