You want to be able to see, but avoid a too-bright area. (Think spa, not supermarket.) For a reading lamp (like this one), Nielsen likes ones with a three-way switch. Opt for an overhead light with a dimmer switch. As for the lightbulbs, try GE Reveal bulbs, which give off a soft, soothing light.
You want comfort, not hotel-stark, so a little clutter is fine, “as long as you create organized spaces for it,” Nielsen says. Having things in a bit of a disarray feels homey, but you don’t want it to be out of control. Designate a space—a shelf (below), a small table—for keeping things you love, like a favorite book, photo album, or piece of art.
Draping a blanket over your chair creates a cozy feel instantly. What to look for? Texture. Choose supersoft cotton, fleece, or cashmere, and avoid anything that’s itchy or rough, Nielsen suggests. Simple patterns (like the one above) or solids are most soothing. For all-natural fiber throws made from cotton and cashmere, check out Garnet Hill ($44 to $248).
A plush chair is essential for relaxing, Nielsen says, so use the most overstuffed one you have. (She likes chairs with arms—like the ones above—so you feel wrapped up.) Add support at the back by using a small pillow, and pull up an ottoman to rest your feet on. Your chair’s seat has gone a bit flat? Have it restuffed at a furniture shop; it costs less than replacing the chair and is so worth it.