If you detest the coldest and bleakest of stretch of the year, you won’t be surprised to learn that you’re far from alone. In fact, according to research from Gallup, winter is Americans’ least favorite season by a large margin, with just 11 percent of those polled preferring it to the milder months.
Fortunately, you can make these bleak months far less bleak, and the first step toward cold weather sanity is introducing some warmth to the place where you’ll be spending way more time than you’d like to: your home. That’s right, there are countless ways to elevate your home to make it a place to wait out the winter in comfort and style. Read on for some of the best ways, from minor changes in your décor to hacks that will keep you warm long after that first snowflake falls.
Upgrade your curtains.
Those translucent panels that keep your home flooded with natural light throughout the summer just won’t cut it when winter rolls around. If you want to keep your home feeling cozy and warm, it’s time to switch to a heavier fabric. “Thick or lined drapes in complimentary deep tones add instant physical and psychological warmth to any room,” says interior designer Denise Gianna, owner of Beacon, New York-based Denise Gianna Designs.
Add splashes of color to your design scheme.
The long, gray days of winter can make even the most vibrant home look drab in no time. With that in mind, try adding some pops of color to your existing design scheme. Brightly-patterned pillows, a winter bouquet on your mantle, or a few holiday-themed accents can instantly brighten your space, even when you don’t see the sun for days.
Invest in some updated bedding.
See you later, cotton sheets. Making your home cozier for winter means more than adding aesthetic charm—it also means adding comfort to your bedroom in the form of heavier textiles. Cotton flannel, velvet flannel, or heavyweight Egyptian cotton sheets are all warm alternatives to your average thin bedding and can make your home cozy (and your sleep a lot more comfortable) in virtually no time.
Add some comfortable—not just pretty—throw pillows.
Face it: despite any intentions to leave the house, many of your winter days will inevitably be spent indoors. With that in mind, it’s imperative to have plenty of spots to curl up with a cup of tea or a good book. The easiest way to make every space in your home better for lounging? Add some throw pillows, suggests Gianna. “This softens and warms a room instantly and bumps up the comfort level to eleven!”
Bring home some green friends.
Just because everything outside is brown or blanketed in snow doesn’t mean your house has to look drab inside, too. Bringing home a few easy-to-care-for plants, like succulents, can instantly add vibrancy to your space. In fact, one study even suggests that having indoor plants can reduce psychological stress. No green thumb? No problem! “Drape real or faux greenery on bannisters, stairways, across fireplaces, and around chandeliers,” suggests Gianna.
Put on a fire.
There are few things that can make a home feel cozy like lighting a fire in the fireplace. Fortunately, even homes that don’t have an existing fireplace can add a fun fire element with an easily-installed gas fireplace or portable electric fireplace, both of which can keep your space warm and let you enjoy the aesthetic appeal of a crackling fire without the clean-up.
Toss a blanket on your sofa.
Curling up on your sofa when the temperature dips is pleasant enough as it is; curling up under a cozy blanket, however, is nothing short of heavenly. “Easily switch up your home decor with the season by draping cozy blankets and soft throw pillows in warm winter fabrics like wool, fur, flannel, and fleece over your beds and seating,” suggests Gianna.
Install a learning thermostat.
Those brutal winter temperatures are no match for a learning thermostat. This easy-to-install appliance can not only lower your heating bills, but make it easier to come home to a perfectly-climate-controlled house as soon as it learns your preferences.
“Installing a thermostat that adapts to your temperature preferences and schedules those temperatures for your family can make your home cozy for the winter. When the family is up and about, cooking, playing, and working the house will need to be warmer as you’re most likely not wearing a winter coat indoors. Then, if you prefer cooler temperatures as you go to bed, then the thermostat can automatically drop to your desired temperature,” says Shawn Breyer, owner of real estate company Sell My House Fast Atlanta.
Add more lighting.
While it may be dark and gloomy outside, there’s no reason your house has to feel the same. Instead of turning on the overheads, a cozy home is well within reach if you simply switch on some lamps instead.
“Consider avoiding using recessed or ceiling lights during fall and winter evenings and sub in low task or targeted lighting that floods the room: floor or table lamps nestled close to the sofa, tall buffet lamps, or candelabras on a console table are flattering and elegant,” says Gianna.
Put down some area rugs.
There are few things less pleasant than stepping out of bed onto a freezing cold floor. The good news? A few area rugs can fix that problem for you in an instant. “A warm and cozy rug used during the winter months guards against cold feet and cuts down on drafts,” says Gianna.
Rearrange your furniture for gatherings.
While you may have to wait a few more months to enjoy warm weather gatherings in your backyard, there’s an easy way to make your interiors more conducive to hosting guests.
“Bunch seating groups closer together to facilitate warm, intimate conversation. I routinely encourage clients to float furniture eight to 12 inches away from walls to create a feeling of space and lightness,” says Gianna, who also suggests moving seating areas slightly closer to warming elements, like fireplaces. “In the colder months pulling your furniture away from the walls and windows helps to mitigate the effect of drafts and cold outside.”
Keep slippers handy.
Keeping a cozy home means, first and foremost, keeping yourself cozy, too. Fortunately, a pair of slippers next to your bed or at your front door can help you outsmart drafts and stay cozy and warm.
Bring in some candle light.
Who says you need a fireplace to make your home cozier this winter? “A fire might seem like an obvious way to warm up a space, but a simple grouping of candles on a coffee or buffet table adds beautiful light and ambiance to a room,” says Gianna.
Add a seasonal wreath.
Coziness isn’t all about interior appeal. In fact, making a cozy home starts at your doorstep with a seasonal wreath. “A simple pine bough wreath can be decorated with fall ribbon and faux fruits or vegetables in November and wrapped in silver ribbon and embellished with cardinals, snowflakes, and holly berry crafts a month later,” says Gianna.
Build a terrarium.
Even if adding a ton of plants to your space doesn’t appeal to you, there’s an easy way to make your home cozier this winter: by building a terrarium. Whether you use succulent clippings or fake plants, making your own terrarium is a perfect winter weather activity, and can brighten up any space in no time.
Upgrade your windows.
According to a report from Energy Star, upgrading those old windows can not only make your home cozy this winter, it can save you a boatload of cash along the way. So, how much can you gain when you install new windows? Up to $465 a year. The pleasure of never dealing with another draft is just a bonus.
Channel your inner baker.
There are few things like the scent of freshly-baked cookies to get you excited about winter. If the weather’s got you feeling down, try baking up a batch of gingerbread cookies or cinnamon rolls to fill your home with a holiday-inspired scent—and, of course, a nice snack to enjoy afterward.
Invest in a wintery welcome mat.
Make your home cozy from the outside in by upgrading your welcome mat for the winter months. While the rest of your neighborhood may be gloomy and gray, a brightly-colored winter mat means that, at the very least, your home won’t be.
Leave your shoes by the front door.
It should come as little surprise that the shoes you wear outside aren’t exactly clean, especially after you’ve trudged through the uniquely wintry mix of slush and salt. If you want to make your home cozier this winter, install a no-shoes-inside policy and you’ll not only have less cleaning to do, you’ll keep your whole family healthier: research conducted by Dr. Charles Gerba at the University of Arizona reveals that 90 percent of the bacteria—including E. coli and coliform bacteria—on footwear transfers directly to the floors of your home.
Add some jewel tones to your palette.
A little color can go a long way when it comes to making your home cozy for winter and fighting those drab days outside. “Switch your warm weather accessories for decor in rich, warm, jewel-toned colors and fabrics. Choose deep or bright tones that complement the decor you can’t switch out (seating, tables, and other heavy, expensive objects) and pair with warm neutrals (like linen, wool, burlap) which look great with all wood tones,” says Gianna.
Create a reading nook.
There are few things more enjoyable on a cold day than curling up with good book. If you want to catch up on the classics (or those holdover beach reads) when it’s too cold to go out, try making yourself a reading nook in which to do so. A comfortable chair, a reading lamp, a blanket, some pillows, and plenty of peace and quiet are all you need to make it possible.
Add some textiles to your tables.
Your floors aren’t the only part of the house that could stand to be warmed up come wintertime. If you’re looking to make an inviting and cozy home, add some quilted runners to your tables and bookcases—not only will they boost your room’s aesthetic appeal, they’ll keep your table safe from spills and moisture marks, too.
Section off rooms with curtains.
If you’re still feeling the chill inside your home, try adding some warm curtains to your space. Sectioning off open doorways with a tension rod and some heavy drapes can help you keep the warm air in and the cold out.
Add some string lights outside.
Just because it’s dark by afternoon doesn’t mean you need to forgo your outdoor space this winter. Even if you’re not having meals outdoors in your parka, you can still brighten up your patio, gazebo, or garage with a few rows of string lights, making your home look cozier in the process.
Update your art.
A new season calls for some new decorations on your walls. If you’re trying to make a cozy home for winter, it’s time to forgo that minimalist aesthetic. “Bare walls, especially bare white walls, can feel cold. Warm your room and encourage cozy gatherings by filling walls with large scale art, tapestries, or decorative rugs in bright or deep seasonal tones,” suggest Gianna.
“And don’t stop there—share happy times and memories by adding a few carefully placed, meaningful family photos in warm wood, metal or fabric frames and intersperse with cherished family ornaments or mementos.”
Bulk up your towels.
Stepping out of the shower on a below-freezing day and trying to stay warm with a threadbare towel is hardly a pleasant experience. If you want to make every part of your home cozier this winter, start by upgrading your towels. A set of plush towels can not only keep you warm, but make the whole idea of getting up while it’s still dark out a whole lot more palatable.
Add some natural accents.
Just because you’re not exactly in the mood to spend your days outside in the winter months doesn’t mean you have to forgo all reminders of the natural world. “Wood, burlap, twigs, stones, and minerals in rich tones, colors and finishes have a very warm feel. Even without a fireplace, adding a basket or array of twigs or birch logs to your living room is great way give it a cozy, modern cabin feel,” says Gianna.
Put out some seasonal storage.
While you may need more accessories, like blankets and pillows, to make your home feel cozy this winter, that doesn’t mean you should just resign yourself to a cluttered home for the rest of the year. Adding a wooden chest to your living room to store all those accoutrements when you’re not using them will keep your space looking stylish, but rid your space of any otherwise frustrating clutter.
Add some attic insulation.
If you want to keep a cozy home this winter, try adding some insulation to your unfinished attic space. An inexpensive addition to your space, some simple insulation batting can easily help you lose up to 25 percent less heat than you would with an uninsulated space.
Create a canopy bed.
Want to make your bedroom a cozy sleep sanctuary? Try turning your bed into a canopy. Even if your bed doesn’t have upper rails from which to hang curtains, you can easily get the same effect by hanging curtains from overhead hooks instead.
Scent the air with some essential oils.
Making your home cozy this winter isn’t all about aesthetics. If you want to make the cold weather more palatable, try diffusing some essential oils or adding some to your existing cleaning products. The scent of cinnamon, vanilla, or cloves can make any space seem festive in no time.
Invest in some warm-colored lightbulbs.
It’s cold enough outside, so don’t let your interior lighting choices make things worse. “Switch colder for warmer toned light bulbs to instantly add glowing warmth as well as light,” suggests Gianna. Save those bright white bulbs for storage and bring them out again come spring.
Add some removable wallpaper.
Not every change you make as a means of making your space cozier has to be a permanent one. If you want to make your space both stylish and seasonally-appropriate, try some removable wallpaper, the perfect addition to any rental—or any home with an indecisive owner.
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