Best It! Cozy Up Your Home This Winter
I live in Minnesota. I know all about snow in October and stashing winter accessories in every corner for the purposes of comfort and survival. My closet contains moosehide mukluks and thermal underwear. My car is equipped with a remote starter, jumper cables and a hardcore ice scraper. My house has a four-month supply of firewood, four electric heaters and lots of sheepskins.
Since we literally come in from the cold in winter, now's the perfect time to add warming touches to our indoor environments. Even for those who dwell in sunnier climes, changing the scenery inside is a nice -- and comforting -- idea.
Here are three ways to cozy-up your abode during the holiday-hibernation stretch.
Good: Plug In Some Warmth
When the light outside dwindles, turn it up a notch at home. “Lighting is key to warmth,” says Minneapolis-based interior designer Brooke Voss. "Add an extra floor or table lamp to each room. Screw in flourescent bulbs marked 'warm' or 'soft,' or try pink bulbs for a rosy glow."
If you have an old wood-burning fireplace, you might be surprised to learn that, according to the EPA, it may actually be draining your house of heat during the winter. They suggest replacing old fireplaces with more energy-efficient wood-burning or gas inserts. Or, plug in a few electric heaters in spots that get extra chilly. You could also invest in one of those kitschy stand-alone electric fireplaces that won’t require any remodeling to install. Plug it in, pull up an easy chair and voilà: instant coziness.
Better: Do A Cover-Up
Outfit your home like your own body: Give every exposed area a warm covering. Pull out throw blankets and add textured pillows in warm materials like wool and fleece. “Think of your interior the same way you think about your winter-weather closets,” says Voss. “Thick cable-knit throws, bulky upholstery and pillows, a wool plaid tufted ottoman. Channel your inner Paul Bunyan.” If your windows don’t have treatments, add thick curtains or drapes to ward off drafts and create a layer of insulation.
In the bedroom, switch up your cotton bed sheets for flannel, and hang a blanket or even a woven rug over your headboard or base of the bed. “Try those faux-fur blankets -- they make the room look wintry too,” says Boston-based interior designer Annsley McAleer. Layer an extra rug over an existing one and toss fluffy sheepskins -- which are natural insulators -- on the beds and over chairs.
Best: Bring The Outdoors In
Have you ever walked into your local nursery, botanical garden or greenhouse to get a quick hit of the tropics? Create the same warming effect at home by filling your space with indoor plants, terrariums and even trees (such as the fiddle fig, aka ficus) to liven things up for a lush, green indoor view. One added benefit is that these plants will freshen up the air with added oxygen; some -- such as the resilient English ivy and spider plant -- are known for improving indoor air quality by cleaning it of toxins, according to a NASA study.
Don't have a green thumb? Take advantage of natural wintry elements and fill baskets with birch logs, holly branches and pinecones. Line banisters, frames and mantels with spruce garlands. "I always like to add more greenery around the holidays," says McAleer. "This is the biggest and easiest way to signal the change in seasons."