When you're looking for a cozy, quiet place to call your own, don't rule out any room in the house. Page through design magazines and you'll see that photographers can play up patches of warmth in nearly every room.
Check out the camera angles. Photos are purposely shot at eye level, and tight slices of a room are favored over sweeping whole shots. There's a good reason: Such "vignettes" make you feel as if you're right there.
The details draw you in: fresh flowers, bowls of fruit, throws, books and magazines, candles, food -- elements that lend a sense that the room is lived in.
Paying close attention to cues that add warmth is one of the most powerful design tools you have. Once you imagine your
home, room by room, as a series of vignettes, you begin to understand how to capture that sense of warmth throughout.
For many of us, the library is an obvious place to begin. Part of the reason is that bookshelves close in a space. Dark or warm colors often are chosen because they are soothing and they draw the walls in. It also helps if the furnishings are almost hugging one another.
In an Ethan Allen catalog, for example, a striking library with red walls looks cozy because of a pillow-lined sofa with chair and ottoman pulled close. The coffee table is filled with objects that lend personality -- candles, magazines or flowers. A basket of apples in the foreground does the same. Shutters on the windows also pull in the space.
The 85-inch sofa is $1,599; the chair is $1,259; the ottoman, $639; the coffee table, $949; and the bookcase $2,499. All the pieces are part of the Legacy collection.
Taking cues from the library into another area can create a similarly intimate atmosphere. Try creating a window seat, flanked by a pair of bookcases, on a stair landing or beneath a window with a pretty view where you might curl up and read, pausing now and again to gaze out the window. Coordinate the window treatment with the pillows on the bench. A window seat like this will brighten an area with color and pattern as well as add architectural interest to an otherwise boxy space.
Once you have the spot secured, you can find most of the other ingredients in department stores or mail-order catalogs. Some magazines even give you the tools to create your own comfy window seat.
Womens Day Weekend Crafts shows how in its summer issue, using crayon-bright fabrics from Spectrum and Calico Corners. The piped window cushion was sewn with Spectrum's Fleur, a floral pattern in lemon, with Harlequin in Famille Rose for the contrasting boxing strip. Each pillow is stitched in a different pattern.
Selection of fabric and wall-covering can be key -- how you use it, where you place it, its pattern and scale. The scale of furniture also can make a difference. Big where you might not be looking for it can be effective. In the bathroom, for example: Placing a pretty, over-scale upholstered lounging chair next to the whirlpool is the kind of unexpected touch that appeals to West Coast designer Rela Gleason.
Her Summer Hill line of fabrics and furniture expresses a romantic attitude. Her soft sage-green-and-tan-striped chaise is plump yet trim in tailoring. Its whitewashed tapered legs would work with a glossy marble floor and tub surround. A painted decorative screen, crisp shuttered doors, framed etching and topiary would add personality.
The Malibu chaise, which measures 63 inches long, 43 inches wide and 31 1/2 inches tall, retails for $3,975 (fabric is additional). The Morgan stripe in ivory and green is $80 per yard; the McCrae plaid on the pillow also is $80 a yard, and the brush trim is $33
You can get the same kind of warmth in a room with a minimal look. Rumpled and relaxed is the philosophy of Faded Rose slipcovered furniture. In a stark modern setting, without even an area rug on the hardwood floor, the softness and warmth of the natural and apricot crinkled fabrics on comfortable armchairs would still reach out to visitors.
The sophisticated yet relaxed attitude of Guess jeans has been translated into a home collection with the same features. A Guess bedroom, for example, would be casual, with a comforter that combines a soft plaid with a large-scale floral in dusty red on cream. The two fabrics reverse to each other. Michael Benasra, who created the collection, describes it as "domestic untamed," a mix of stripes, prints and plaids with a linen look that won't be hurt by a dog lying on the bed. Mr. Benasra even likes to show the bed unmade, "as if the kids just finished a pillow fight."
Perhaps he has touched on a key element of creating intimacy in the home. Perfection isn't expected. Tousled is OK. If you're relaxed and don't try too hard to decorate your home, it will take on a coziness that you may not want to leave.
* Calico Corners: For a store near you, write Walnut Rod Business Park, 203 Gale Lane, Kennett Square, Pa. 19348, or call (800) 777-9933
* Ethan Allen, Ethan Allen Drive, P.O. Box 1966, Danbury, Conn. 06813-1966; (203) 743-8000
* Faded Rose, 1017 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60614; (312) ** 281-8161
* Guess Inc., 1385 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10018; (212) 730-7200
* Summer Hill Ltd., 2682 Middlefield Road, Suite H, Redwood City, Calif. 94063; (415) 363-2600
* Waverly, Division of F. Schumacher & Co., 79 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016; (800) 423-5881