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Winter Comfort

Simple items to transform your home into a cozy winter retreat

By Jillian Chandler

Our home is our sanctuary, and that could not be truer than during the long, cold winter months we experience here in the Inland Northwest. As the endless warm days of summer are behind us, meaning less time outdoors, now is the time to focus on what’s inside, creating a warm winter oasis that leaves us—and our guests—wrapped in warmth and comfort.

Whether you are on a budget or the sky’s the limit when it comes to your financial resources, you can create an inviting, warm and comfy space to beat the winter blues. All it really takes is a handful of items woven into your current home design style and décor.

One of the first rooms most see when entering a home is the living room or family room. Here is where one will usually find a sofa, coffee and end tables, fireplace with mantel, and an entertainment setup with a TV cabinet, shelving, etc. This is the room that will most likely leave a first impression and is also the room that gets a lot of use—especially during these colder months. Warming this room up with throw pillows to complement the season, such as neutral whites, off-whites and tans, each showcasing different materials (think furry, soft, fluffy, silky, ribbed, sequined, etc.) will automatically create a feeling of luxury and comfort, and you don’t have to break the bank! From inexpensive big box stores to those unique upscale local shops, throw pillows can be found anywhere you look. It’s up to you to decide the color and style to reflect what the winter season means to you while also choosing comfort. And … it’s easy to have both comfort and style showcased in your throw pillows.

To accompany the pillows, a warm blanket or two will do just the trick. A throw over your favorite chair or the back of the couch not only adds to the look of the space with its color and texture, but creates warmth for the space—and for you when you feel a chill! A great and extremely popular choice—and a bit glamorous—for the cold season is a faux fur throw. Other options include wool, fleece and Sherpa blankets. These are also great to keep on hand in other rooms throughout the house, such as at the bottom of the bed or laid across or folded on an ottoman.

That brings us to carpeting. As more of us are opting for hardwood, tile or laminate flooring through our homes, which is great to help keep things cool in the summer months, it tends to be a bit cold on our feet once the harsher weather has arrived. But there’s a quick—and stylish—fix! Adding area rugs throughout your home, if you don’t have them already, is just the solution and adds warmth to our home. Not only are they a great accent piece, they can be changed out to go with the season. For winter, opt to choose a lush shag rug for your living room and bedrooms. And be sure it coordinates well with your décor and throws! You can also add runners throughout your home as well in entryways and hallways.

Nothing says winter like a bright fire burning in the fireplace, wood crackling, flames aglow, and the much-needed heat it offers. While some homes do not have built-in units, do not be discouraged, as there are now, more than ever, plenty of options to add the coziness a fire brings to a home without having to take on a costly home remodel.

Portable fireplaces are an affordable and practical investment for those living in the Inland Northwest. Not only can you add elegance to your living space, but these units are a beautiful accompaniment to dining rooms, bedrooms and office spaces as well! From more modern wall-mounted infrared quartz fireplaces, to electric stoves with heaters and freestanding fireplace stoves, you’re sure to find something that fits your space, style and budget. And, if you're looking to try and enjoy some time outdoors on your patio this winter, bring the heat outdoors with an outdoor fire pit table.

As the days are shorter and the sun shines less during this darker season, it’s important that you brighten your home with plenty of light! Be sure that you utilize all of the natural light by avoiding obstructing light that comes in through your windows. In addition, add lamps and lighting throughout your home to keep it bright and cheerful, eliminating those winter blues. Dark corners often get ignored, making them the perfect place to put a tall standing floor lamp. Utilize your end tables, wall shelves and mantel, which work well for lantern lighting, adding some light and “wow” to your home. Now may even be the time to update some of the light fixtures throughout your home, opting for those that allow for more light to brighten the room.

Replace the bulbs in your overhead lights, sconces and chandeliers with those that are higher wattage. When making the switch, choose full-spectrum light such as fluorescent, LED and incandescent, as these will be closer in color to natural sunlight.

Candles are another way to bring light into your home, adding a touch of elegance—and a delightful fragrance if you choose ones that are scented. A cluster of complementary candles can really be placed anywhere in the home, from living spaces to more intimate spaces like the bathroom. Just be sure that you keep them far enough away from furniture and curtains to avoid any possibility of a fire hazard, and if you have small children, be sure to keep them out of reach, especially when lit. You can also choose from a selection of candles that have a battery-powered light rather than a wick with open flame.

Adding a mirror or two on the walls is an easy way to create the illusion of more space while also adding additional light! Place a large mirror on a wall opposite a window. In turn, it will make that room appear larger while also adding light to the room as light from the outdoors reflects off it. It’s also a nice way to reflect your outdoor space and add the illusion of another window.

Winter is an ideal time to warm up your home with fresh foliage. Though a favorite year-round, come winter, those bright flowers and green plants can really add that special touch to brightening up a room—and the fragrance of fresh flowers in the midst of winter definitely adds a sweet note. From the dining room table to the kitchen island, on your bedroom dresser or on the coffee table, flowers will brighten any gloomy winter day. Larger potted plants act more like a piece of furniture and work well near—but not too close to—a fireplace, near windows or doorways, corners and more. And don’t forget hanging plants are an option as well!

If you don’t have a green thumb and would prefer artificial greenery, that’s okay too! Just be sure to incorporate some variety when it comes to your faux plants, keeping the mix interesting, and don’t forget to clean the plants regularly.

As you spend more time indoors with your family and friends, be sure not to add too much “stuff” inside. It is important to create an inviting space without cluttering the space. Be diligent in being aware of the size of each space and what will work best with it.

With a set budget and some thoughtful planning, your home can be transformed into a cozy oasis you’ll enjoy all winter long.

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