When the weather outside is frightful, we all want to snuggle down at home and keep the storms and snow at bay. So light the fire, get out the throws and bring on the scented candles.
Start with colour
Cool Scandinavian hues of pale, ethereal blue, soft grey, milky whites and creams work surprisingly well in our relentlessly grey winter climate - but that’s because those clever Nordic-types add repeated pops of bright colour elsewhere.
Think of the bright fabrics by Marimekko, or those found in Ikea and introduce them on cushions, curtains and accessories. Alternatively, go for warm, deep, passionate shades: think mulberry, blackcurrant, burnt orange, yellow ochre, moss green.
Nothing says ‘cosy’ like a pile of blankets or throws in cuddly finishes such as mohair, nubbly knitted wool, cashmere or velvet.
A sophisticated, layered effect can be achieved by using just one colour – cream, for instance – and repeating it in a number of different fabrics and finishes around the room.
Top off with lighting
Glowing lighting is so important during the dark, winter months. By using a combination of wall lights, floor lights and overhead lighting, you can create a space that’s lit from above and below, highlighting treasured possessions or paintings.
A task lamp is vital for reading or other pastimes, and a romantic, sparkling chandelier along with twinkling, scented candles will maximise that romantic feeling.
Round the house
At the window: While it’s lovely having light, floaty curtains in the summer, the winter demands drapes that will keep out the draughts and keep in the heat. Swop gauzy linens for weightier fabrics in rich, warm colours. Find reasonably-priced tie-tops at places like Ikea or easy-to-use eyelet curtains at Next, in a huge range of colours and patterns.
On the sofa: A cable-knit or crocheted throw in mohair or – for wealthy hedonists, cashmere - adds instant, whisper-soft texture plus warmth. Remove linen cushions in pale, summer florals and replace with sumptuous, extravagant cushions in velvet, brocade and chenille.
On the floor: Have you got practical floorboards or laminate in your living room? Then a snuggly rug in a deep-pile acrylic will bring instant relief to chilly toes and stop heat leaching out from below. For an opulent, log-cabin look, opt for a reindeer skin or a double sheepskin – there are some fabulous ones online. They don’t cost the earth - and your pet will be in heaven.
In the bedroom: Add a quilt or a throw or two to the bottom of the bed, ready to pull up on cold nights. Luxurious faux fur blankets come in a range of colours, from polar-bear white to rippling grey wolf, and will keep sleepyheads toasty through the worst of blizzards.
In the hall: A ‘welcome’ mat has more than one use and isn’t just there for wiping muddy feet. There are loads of cheery ones on sale with Christmas themes, relevant pictures or pithy messages. Make sure you have a space for people to store dirty boots and dry wet coats – and if you have a light-coloured carpet and want guests to de-shoe, provide a few pairs of slippers.
Read our eight tips for keeping warm in winter