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The Indytute's Clare Hastings on the best ways to hunker down and cosy up this winter

There is nothing like a bit of 'cosy'. It's that blast of hot air when when you open the door, steam rising from the bath, lux track suits and slippers made from at least a dozen rare-breed fleeces.

Remember your home is your sanctuary, so by treating your home, you treat yourself. Cosy equates to super soft. This applies to lighting, rugs, throws and home wear – anything that’s the slightest bit bristly can be shown the door. This is not the time for a hair shirt, or a tiled floor. Feathers, velvet, cashmere (obviously) and silk are the way forward. Even mohair can be distracting as it is inclined to shed and can be a bit scratchy.


Flickering candles

Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

Stygian gloom is always cosy. Lighting the house with candles guarantees an atmosphere.

As with everything there are caveats. Be very wary of scented candles, the last thing you want is a candle that makes you sick – and they can. It is all to do with the cheap fragrances and chemicals that often go into the mix so you really must select the good ones. Killed by candles is not a great epitaph.  

The same goes for pot pourri. The Indytute team are still coughing from a Christmas pop-up, where their stand was placed next door to the pot pourri from hell. Beeswax burns clean and is the candle of choice, but soy wax is also a winner. A soy wax candle is sustainable, and burns 90% less soot, and while they are more expensive they do last longer. Earl of East are the masters of a soy candle, and they are almost too beautiful to light.

I am also keen on a battery candle, and have become quite the aficionado. The only ones worth the name are sold by Oka. They are coated with real wax (indeed I did have one that melted on a sunny windowsill) and a little plastic flame that actually moves and provides an excellent flicker.

If you go for the real thing, buy your matches from Archivist. They have single handedly put the joy back into a match box. 


Raffia lamp shades emit a lovely light. Diffused and gentle, but they are tricky to find. Pooky sell raffia wall shades that wash the walls with a soft glow, and Abigail Ahern has just got stock of a very nice base and shade made from banana leaves, but as I've got at least a month in lockdown I am going to make my own. I mean how difficult can it be? Wool and The Gang sell raffia kits, and use the yarn to crochet everything from clutch bags to sandals, so it's definitely the business. You can buy W & T.G raffia yarn on it's own or from lovecrafts.com in a multitude of colours and then purchase a wire lampshade frame from ebay. Don't buy florists raffia, too many splits.

Comfort food

Apple pie

Photo by Priscilla du Preez on Unsplash

This is different from comfort eating, which we all know just involves packets of biscuits. Comfort food is lovely homemade soups, chicken dinners, Shepherds pie, dishes that don't require hours spent in the kitchen, but really hit the spot when you are hunkering down in front of the telly.

The Spicery 'One Pot Wonders' are a brilliant store cupboard staple. In the time it takes to say 'Make mine a Korma', you have. Chicken bits, an onion, ground almonds and their fresh-blended spice kit makes a truly delicious supper. Especially good if you love a bit of Indian, but could do without all the stuff that you're drawn to when ordering a take-away – dangerous poppadoms etc. 



tea in bed

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

You may not think of china as 'cosy', but it is a big contributor to feeling good, and creating that atmos. We all have a favourite mug – the one that's always in the dishwasher and seems to make a cup of tea just a little bit tastier. I have a favourite breakfast dish. It's by Serax, it cost too much (that's why I only have one), but it makes everything from fruit to muesli look irresistibly stylish. I feel spoilt when I use it. A china cup and saucer always makes tea time a treat. In my next life I shall own a tea shop.

If there are chips in your china remember repairing is also soothing,  I have saved all the pieces from a much loved decorative bowl, and really there couldn't be a better moment to attempt a repair. I may go for gold, and highlight the new 'imperfections', of which there are plenty. Oh and do check out 'The Jacksons' hand woven table mats, don't calculate the cost of a set, just buy one to make you smile. Just loving the lobster and the crab…. 



Photo by Prudence Earl on Unsplash

Again, plants aren't exactly 'cosy' but they certainly create an atmosphere. Floral decorations don't have to be floral. When you are out on your lockdown exercise keep a lookout for long interesting twigs. The ones covered in lichen and moss. Put in a vase they make a rather Japanese statement in the corner of a room, and don't require the slightest bit of maintenance. Add some flowers (you won't need many) if you must, but make sure the sticks are taller and dominate. Good for background aesthetics during a Zoom call. 


Cosy hobbies

Photo by Nathan Bang on Unsplash

Hobbies can be very cosy. Jigsaws definitely come under the cosy tag. Meaningless but oddly tranquil (until you lose the last piece of sky). If you are stuck for space invest in a 'jigroll'. This means you don't have to panic about using up the only table. It does what it says on the can. Literally roll up your masterpiece, and voila, a portable puzzle. 

I am waiting for patchwork to start having another moment in the sun. I made a bedspread for a boyfriend back in the day, embroidering the last hexagonal with a meaningful message, although I would probably recommend starting with a tea cosy. 



Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I couldn't blog 'cosy' without a mention of beds and more precisely bedding. I could go on mastermind majoring in this subject. Although not a complete obsession, no hotel visit is complete without taking the bed apart to check out the brand of mattress, pillows etc.

Obviously I think no bed is complete without a small travel pillow covered in a silk pillowcase.

Indeed so keen am I, that at some time or another they became my present of choice for friends. Jasmine Silk specialise in all things silky. I am wedded to their silk blankets. They are the ultimate in cosy lux bedspreads. They don't fall off and the edging makes a bed not only cosy but divine, and please don't get me started counting threads… Zzzzzzzzzz

FURTHER READING: While you're getting cosy and all, why not hand make some of your Christmas presents this year? 

Main image: Photo by Stéphane Juban on Unsplash


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