Cozy cheery
April 4, 2020 8:35 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to learn more about designing cozy apartment spaces -- less Design-y design, more cheerily lived-in and generous. But I'd still like to find frameworks/ways of thinking about design. Any books, videos, podcasts, etc you'd recommend?

Like many of us, all of this self-isolation is making me really focus on what my living space feels like. I have some ideas of what I'd like to change specifically, but I wouldn't mind daydreaming more systematically/conceptually. I love having some good paradigms/heuristics/schools of thought to chew on, so any material in that direction would be lovely. What resonates with me:

* Plants! I've never lived with plants. How do I house plant??
* Bright, but still a little subdued colors
* I like the little I've learned about Wabi Sabi, having lived in Japan for a while. I like wood, simple and warm harmony in design.
* I need to spend some time distinguishing hygge hype from the elements that really resonate with me. I started using a single candle occasionally and *love* it. We're departing winter and early spring here, but that kind of cheery clutter of a warm interior in winter.. the best
* I'm half-Mexican and if there are any particular elements of Mexican aesthetics that fit into this all it would definitely make me happy. A few apartment walls have colors that evoke bright Lotería shades which make me happy, but that's a kind of surface-level connection. I'd definitely like to learn more.

I find sites like Apartment Therapy a mix of inspiring and really off-putting bc of the whole catalog sheen vibe. If it existed I would definitely like to learn about this in the context of like, a memoir, or a collection of essays, as I like learning about ideas in the context of people who embody them.

Hopefully that's enough to go on. Thank you!!
posted by elephantsvanish to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
I think you'd enjoy Home is where the heart is by Isle Crawford - it's a mix of everything you described above, plus tips.
posted by teststrip at 8:46 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]

Last night I was browsing the FAQs of r/succulents, which look really helpful if you want to get into succulents:
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:06 AM on April 4

I don't know if you're interested in handcrafts or crafting yourself, but if so I loved this book: Crafting a Colorful Home. Even if you aren't interested in the craft projects, it has a lot of advice about colors and patterns, and lots and lots of inspiration.
posted by muddgirl at 9:18 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]

There was a boomlet a couple of years ago for hygge, the "untranslatable" Danish concept of coziness. I own "The Book of Hygge" by Louisa Thompson Brits, which, like a lot of stuff you're going to find about this sort of thing, is a little on the woo side, but if you approach it critically, there's a lot of good information.

If you have a *lot* of time, read "A Pattern Language", by Christopher Alexander, but do it in reverse order (back to front). In regular order, it starts by talking about urban and regional planning, working its way to neighborhoods, individual streets, individual houses, and finally to rooms. But from backwards, you start with rooms first, and, well, it's kind of beautiful. Some of the patterns (Pools of Light, Different Chairs) should definitely be applicable to what you're trying to do.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:20 AM on April 4 [5 favorites]

This is gonna sound like "catalog-sheen" thinking, but honestly one of the biggest things that's helped me explore and gather ideas has been signing up with Pinterest. It's kind of like if the image-search function on Google let you make and save lists of the pictures that you especially liked. There's even a browser plugin you can add to your browser where if you're on another web site and see a picture you like, you can save that to your Pinterest account.

I've used it for both fashion and decorating; every so often I'll just do a search like "boho bedrooms" or "outfits olive jeans" and browse through what comes up. If I have a gut-level "oh I like that" reaction to something, I save the image. Simply doing that has helped me sort of wade through what I like and don't like, and see what details and themes come up again and again. That's already helped me hone in on a more curated approach to my wardrobe; after seeing the same kinds of outfits show up again and again and again in my "saved" board, I keep those ideas in mind and start deliberately seeing how I can recreate them, and have even gotten rid of things that don't really fit the overall pattern I see in my saved images (and they were things I was never really wearing anyway, truth be told).

I'm actually embarking on a bit of a bathroom spruce-up, and one of the first things I did was poke around in Pinterest looking at designs or design details that sort of spoke to me. I also plan on adding an art print to the bathroom, and browsed a couple of poster and art print sites for ideas I liked and saved the finalists to that same pinterest board.

It's sort of an exploration/collection tool all in one - it lets you see what certain things look like, and you can save those images for later and ultimately see what your unique-to-you aesthetic looks like.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:26 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]

this episode of commune college is about organizing your living space, not really about decorating.
posted by mammal at 9:43 AM on April 4

Apartment Therapy has an old book called Eight Step Home Cure that's actually pretty good. It walks you through thinking about what you want in your home.
posted by pinochiette at 9:50 AM on April 4

I'm spending some of my quarantine time thinking about what I would like my (future) tiny house to look like.

Even if you're not thinking of a tiny house specifically, I'd recommend the YouTube channel Living Big in a Tiny House: people are doing amazing, lovely things with small spaces: innovative storage ideas, small but efficient kitchens, beautiful use of wood and reclaimed materials. And the channel producers go all over the world to talk to people, so you'll see some Japanese-inspired design, some characteristically French building styles, etc.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 1:53 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]

There is a subreddit called r/CozyPlaces that you might really enjoy. I love that it’s amateurs just doing their best in their own homes.
posted by Salamander at 4:23 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]

The Eye's Gallery has quite a bit of Mexican folk art, and some is for sale online. I'm not suggesting you buy anything, but it might give you some ideas related to colors and motifs.
posted by gudrun at 6:01 PM on April 4

Have you checked out Emily Henderson's blog? I like her because she gives you a lot of design "rules," for instance, how to choose a rug for your space, color palette missteps, etc. She may not have your style, but she can give you that base from which you can fill in your own preferences.
posted by hellochula at 6:33 PM on April 5

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