A Interior Designer Shares 4 Cozy Upgrades to Make This Winter

  • NYC architect and designer Michael Gabellini recommended four upgrades to make a home extra cozy.
  • His clients may demand luxury, but that doesn’t mean that some upgrades can’t be affordable.
  • Pellet stoves, under-counter heating, and firepits are cost-efficient and easy to install.

Deep-pocketed homeowners from across the country call on New York City-based design firm Gabellini Sheppard. From a modern Aspen mountain hideaway to a sleek Park Avenue pad, the firm knows how to craft luxe, minimalist interiors.

At the helm of the nearly 30-year-old firm is Michael Gabellini, an architect who has spearheaded projects from Jil Sander’s Paris boutique to Istanbul’s Edition hotel to the redesign of the Top of The Rock at Rockefeller Center in New York, as well as a raft of private residences whose celebrity inhabitants the firm discreetly declines to name. 

Gabellini spoke with Insider about four cozy upgrades — one for each main area of a home — that his clients are indulging in as the weather cools and that most anyone can apply.

Add a minibar to the bedroom

A rendering of a bedroom with a wet bar.

Minibars are becoming a must-have for bedrooms for Gabellini’s high-end clients.

Anymayy/Shutterstock



Gabellini recommends one product and one upgrade that can add coziness to any bedroom: A humidifier and an in-room minibar. 

A humidifier “helps you sleep, it ups the REM cycles,” Gabellini said, and is a less expensive way to make the bedroom feel more luxurious. Canopy sells a design-forward humidifier and the Levoit LV600S has garnered good reviews online.

On the other hand, clients who want to enjoy their bedrooms more while they’re awake are requesting mini bars these days, he added.

Bedrooms now include lounges or workspaces, not just a place to sleep.

“Clients spend more time in their bedrooms than they did before,” Gabellini said.

He said the minibar is handy for morning juices and noshes, as well as evening cordials.

Gabellini points out that if the bedroom wall backs up to a bathroom, it’s relatively easy to install a mini bar as it can share plumbing. He recommended the minibars from kitchen brand Molteni & C. and Dada, though IKEA makes more affordable pieces.

Install heated walls in the bathroom

Two photos of white stone bathrooms at 611 West 56th Street in New York.

Gabellini Sheppard designed the interiors for 611 West 56th Street in New York, with bathrooms that include heated floors.

Gabellini Sheppard/The Boundary



Gabellini said he likes to extend the same kind of wellness amenities they put into ritzy hotels into the home. 

He’s seeing a growing demand for heated walls, which are already popular in Germany. 

“It’s very easy for us, if someone is retiling the bath to put these very thin micro mats of electric mesh into your walls, into your floors, and then you retile back on top of it,” he said, noting that it adds about $5 to $7 per square foot in cost.

“For kids it’s wonderful too, because it actually encourages them to go, especially in winter months, into their bathrooms because their bathrooms are always freezing,” he added.

Opt for heated countertops in the kitchen

An open condo kitchen with a dark stone countertop and dining table on the left.

Gabellini said a warmed countertop provides a natural gathering space for family and guests. Pictured here is Gabellini Sheppard’s kitchen design for the condos of 152 Elizabeth Street in New York.

Gabellini Sheppard



You’ve heard of heated floors — and now, heated walls — but what about heated countertops? Gabellini said he often relies on WarmlyYours countertop heating pads when installing new kitchens. 

The pads start at $375 and cost about 10 cents a day to run, according to WarmlyYours. The heat they emit is gentle — they won’t keep a plate of food warm or be too hot to touch if you’re resting fingers on the countertop. 

“In a cold climate, to have that radiant heat while you’re having drinks or dinner with your friends or family, it’s just so wonderful because it naturally becomes a place that people gravitate to,”  he said.

Add a fireplace to the living room like it’s an appliance

A modern pellet stove next to a bookshelf.

Pellet stoves are easy to install and a nice addition for colder months.

Reflexpixel/Getty Images



If your home doesn’t have a fireplace, don’t fret. 

It’s relatively easy, and inexpensive, to add a standing pellet stove or wood stove to the living room, Gabellini said.

“It’s a very easy thing to put in, because it’s considered by code an appliance,” he said. 

They do have to be vented and sit on a stone pad, and should be installed by a professional. The stoves are often priced below $2,000, and installation costs about the same.

It’s worth noting that come cities, like New York, prohibits the installation of wood-burning stoves, so make sure you check your local regulations before diving in.