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The joy of sitting in

The joy of sitting in

Staying in. Whether you relished the prospect before or not, by now, an evening at home has certainly lost its allure. But, with quite a few more wintery nights ahead of us in the company of our own living rooms, we say it’s time to rekindle the joy to be found in ‘missing out’. Here are a handful of ideas to help you do just that.

How to choose the snuggest of seats

No matter if your preferred perch is a sofa, an armchair or a loveseat, choosing the right one for you (and accessorising it accordingly) is a crucial part of enjoying evenings spent at home.

Armchair sitters: chances are you prefer to sit more upright, or at least not as supine as sofa dwellers do, so support for your shoulders, neck and head in the backrest of the chair is important. It doesn’t have to be a very high-backed chair if you don’t like that look – our Olivia is tall enough for most. If you sit with your feet on the floor or you like to curl them up on the chair, you’ll also want to pick a style that’s wider, either to accommodate your curled-up legs or so you can relax your knees to the side. Designs like George, whose arms stop short of the end of the seat, are great for curlers because you can use those extra bits of seat at the front to put your feet on. If you’d rather rest your legs on a footstool, make sure it’s one that’s slightly lower than the chair’s seat height, and also ideally large enough to support both your feet and your calves, if not also your knees, or you might find that your knees start to ache a little after a while.

If you’re an armchair sitter who likes having the seat to themselves but feels like they need to spread out a bit more, a loveseat is the chair for you. It’s also perfect for those who find their dog or cat likes to sneak up onto their lap. With room to the side for your legs, your knitting or (if you must) your laptop, it’s a happy middle ground between armchair and the sharing space of the sofa. Of our two, Olivia is the more supportive and upright, whereas Long Island is soft and slouchy, so choose accordingly (and remember you’ll spend more time sitting on it than looking at it – although happily, both are timeless and elegant styles).

Those that head straight for the sofa are generally those that like to spread out. Legs up and back against the arm is the position they’ll usually adopt, unless of course they’re sharing the sofa (in which case a large footstool like Arthur that everyone can get their feet on is essential). Whether you select a sofa with high or low arms depends on whether you really like to lie out (lower, like Olivia) or you want to sit a bit more upright (higher, like Lottie or Eva). Like to do a bit of both? Choose whichever style you’d prefer but make sure you have plenty of scatter cushions to either bulk up a lower arm and support your upper back when sitting up, or create a sort of ramp up to a higher one so you don’t get a crick in your neck when lying down. And if you have the room, choose an L-shaped sofa so you can spread out without having to lean against an arm (but be warned you might have to fight over the corner piece).

Whichever seat you choose, the objects around and on it are just as important in making it a truly comfortable place that you’ll look forward to spending time with. We’ve already touched on where footstools are needed, and on the subject of scatter cushions (although it’s also worth saying that the bigger, squishier kind are generally more comfortable, but little ones have their place for lumbar support or propping your head up), but tables and lighting are also key. Being able to reach your drink or book without getting up (and disturbing the cat) and having enough light to read by are what we’d call essential luxuries.

Creating the perfect night in

For film-watchers: having a dedicated room at home which you can use as a home cinema is a bit of a dream – a space you can set up with a large, comfortable corner sofa or individual, deep chairs for each person, a projector and screen and all the sound equipment you could want, and details like dark-painted walls that create cosiness or timber panelling to aid the acoustics (see our creative founder, Emma Sims-Hilditch’s tour of her at-home cinema room here for more inspiration). But if you don’t have such a space, you can adapt your living room to create the perfect Friday night movie night. If your fireplace, rather than your TV (or, indeed, if you don’t have a TV) is the focal point of your room, set up a projector and screen above it. By hiding them in timber-panelled ‘beams’, they’ll blend in when you’re not using them. Or, if you have space elsewhere in your home, it can be fun to project onto a blank wall instead, setting up large cushions, sheepskin rugs and blankets on the floor to create a moveable feast of a home cinema, allowing you to take it outside come summer.

For book-readers: good lighting is your perfect night in essential here. A fabric-shaded table lamp won’t be enough. You should also position an adjustable, metal-shaded reading light (be it a floor lamp, a desk lamp or a built-in wall light) next to your chair for targeted illumination. And you’ll probably want it lower than you first think, so it shines on your book rather than your head. It’s nice to have some ambient sound while you’re reading to set the mood for cosiness too. A real fire is the pinnacle, but failing that, don’t scorn recorded soundtracks of things like campfires and raindrops on roofs – studies have shown that any natural sound, whether experienced in that moment or recorded, can help us relax.

For mixing it up: book reading or film watching might be your usual go to indoor, night-in activity, but if you feel it’s time to shake things up a bit, look no further than something that gets the whole family gathered round. Board games very much still have their place on a sociable, switched-off night in. You’ll need either a large, firm-topped footstool like Arthur or Milo (or a coffee table, of course) surrounded by cushions, or else comfortable dining chairs – upholstered designs are the best, but failing that, pile on the cushions and throws. And while we might all be fed up with Zoom quizzes, don’t forget that classics like charades and Pictionary are just as easy to play with family and friends over video call, and they’ll get you up and moving too.

Making cosiness felt on a deeper level

A few years ago, ‘hygge’ was a bit of a buzz word, and although we’re all talking about it less, the ideas behind it are still very much relevant. In fact, it’s a way of life, not just a trend, and the hygge concept of what true cosiness (or comfort, or contentment) is and how to achieve it are really just good sense. It’s not all about candles either.

Gratitude is a big part of hygge living, for instance – by actively recognising what’s good about our current situation, we can switch on to a state of mind that can find more enjoyment in the here and now (in this case, staying in). It’s also about a peaceful sort of togetherness, the kind where no one person takes the spotlight, where difficult topics are left at the door, and where reminiscing on shared, happy experiences is encouraged.

More physically speaking, there are some things you can bring into your home that will encourage that hygge state of mind. A nook – or ‘hyggekrog’ – is one (another good ‘perfect night in’ point for you book readers). This goes back to a very primal need to feel secure, which small spaces that offer protection and warmth provide. Surrounding yourself with objects that spark nostalgia or that are emotive for you is another key part. Engage the senses as well: the smell of baking, the sound of a fire, and being able to look upon slow, mesmeric movement, be it flames or falling rain.

It’s also worth saying (and fairly unsurprising really, given the Danish climate) that hygge is better felt when contrasted against its opposite, which is why it’s easier to achieve in winter. Spending time outside in the cold – as well as being able to look out onto it, or to hear the wind and rain – will make your night in all the more cosy.

Tags: Interiors