Creating a cozy oasis at home

Start with a large piece of furniture, and decorate around it. Blacks and whites are a decorating staple. PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Materials like Kashmira by Flexsteel make it easy to keep light-colored furniture clean. PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Lanterns or bowls on a hall entry table can be a place to start decorating. PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Rich colors like gold, silver and rose gold are popular in accessory accents. PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Spaces such as fireplace mantels are a great place to start creating a cozy atmosphere. PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Kimberley Poe-Jensen PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Anna Francois PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Home. We’ve spent a lot of time there in the past year. It’s become the place where we not only live but also work, teach and, in some cases, spend our vacation days.

The pandemic forced us to make those changes, but now that we’re slowly but surely inching toward normalcy, many people have found that home is where they want to be.

“Comfort is huge right now,” said Kimberley Poe-Jensen, a sales associate at Slumberland Furniture in Dubuque. “People want to hang out with their family, and they’re spending a lot more time at home.”

Anna Francois, the owner of Rustic Charm Décor Barn in Dubuque’s Historic Millwork District, is seeing some people make an event of their décor shopping.

“It’s become a social thing,” she said. “I’m seeing a lot of girlfriends and sisters shopping together. They may not be going to restaurants yet, but they’re coming out and shopping.”

Creating an oasis at home is easier than you think, because it starts with what you know best — your interests, what you like and the things that bring you joy.

Poe-Jensen recommends starting with a large piece — a sofa, recliner or accent chair — and going from there. And comfort is key.

“In the past, we decorated because it was pretty, even if we weren’t going to sit on it that much,” she said. “Now we’re spending a lot more time in our homes, and that pretty piece of furniture isn’t all that comfortable. So finding a balance between comfort and aesthetics is really important.”

Francois, who has a real estate background, opened Rustic Charm online this winter, and moved into her storefront in March. She is finding many people looking to fill empty spaces they never thought to decorate before.

“I thought there would be a lot of people looking for home office décor,” she said. “But now that they’re home more, they’re decorating other spaces that they haven’t gotten to yet.”

Those spaces include shelves around fireplace mantels, entry ways and table tops.

“People are really taking notice of those spaces now and wanting to fill them,” Francois said.

Color is another big factor in choosing items for your home.

“What colors do you like? What colors bring you peace? The trend right now is grays and browns, and mixing them together is really popular,” Poe-Jensen said. “If you like nautical themes, start with something blue or cream. Nature motifs are also big, with lots of greenery and artwork with pictures of nature.”

Both Francois and Poe-Jensen said its OK to shop even when you aren’t sure what you want.

“Some people will show me a picture on their phone and say, ‘I don’t even know where to start,’” Francois said. “But they have a photo that they like, and we go from there.”

Gold, silver, brass and rose gold are making a big comeback in the accessories arena, and new, easy-to-clean materials for furniture are opening doors for people who thought they could never have a

light-colored sofa in their home.

“People used to be afraid of whites and creams and light colors,” said Poe-Jensen. “But Kashmira, which is a line of material from Flexsteel, is soft and beautiful and comfortable. You can take a marker and write on it, and it will come right off with a wet wipe.”

Once your furniture is in place, Francois suggests starting with a larger accessory.

“Start with a lantern or bowl on your entry table, for example, and decorate around that,” she said. “You’ve got to find that main item and tie everything into it.”

The key to creating a home oasis is not only making it a space that’s personal to you and your family but also creating a space where you want to spend your time.

“It has a lot to do with putting all the details together,” Poe-Jensen said. “Picking rugs with color and texture, and then picking a few accent pieces that really inspire you, rather than just a bunch of tchotchkes.”

Michelle London writes for the Telegraph Herald.

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