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Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Warmth of Winter by Janet Davison

When the weather started to cool down in the fall, Mother Nature warmed us up visually with bright orange pumpkins and an abundance of falling leaves in brilliant colors.
In December as the weather took on a chill and the days got shorter, we brightened up our homes with the deep hues of the most vivid of contrasting colors – Christmas Red and Green.
Now, winter has set in. The holiday trimmings have been taken down. We have stored away all the lights, tinsel and ornaments and are deep into a long cold season of gray skies, short days, and wet weather. The absence of vibrant color coupled with the weather can make our homes feel especially cold and can sometimes weigh on our emotions.

Here are some ideas on how to add warmth to your home this winter and create a comfy-cozy atmosphere indoors.

1. Create a welcoming front door. Wreaths are not just for Christmas time! Adding a door decoration to your home brightens up the entire area and gives a warm and friendly welcome to your family and friends. Dried flowers, twigs and evergreens with pinecones all make great winter wreaths.

2. Cozy up with warm colors. As a decorator, my first thought turns to color – our least expensive, most effective decorating tool. When you want your home to embrace and cheer, decorate it in variations of the warm colors – red, orange, yellow – mixed with shades of earth tones. Like the sun itself, these fiery hues visually heat up any space and take the chill off of emotions at the same time.

3. Arrange the furniture for togetherness.
Create “conversation areas” by nestling two comfortable chairs together near an accent table. Try pulling the furniture away from the walls and anchoring the legs of the sofa and loveseat onto the edge of the rug. You can make the fireplace the focal point of the room by positioning the furniture to face it. By placing reading lamps on the end tables you will create a circle of warmth and light where you can enjoy many a good book.

4. Add snuggly textures. Rugs and carpet runners help to counteract the coldness of hardwood and tile floors. You may want to add fleece throws to your d├ęcor. When not in use, rather than folding them across the back or arm of the furniture, you can create a more inviting look if you toss them casually over the corner of the sofa or chair. A basket of blankets is always welcome in the winter – as are over-sized corduroy pillows used to enjoy the evening fire. Animal print fabrics make wonderful accents.

5. There is warmth in the details. Accessorize with books – on shelves, on tables, in short stacks under decorative items. Use an abundance of candles and enjoy the fragrance, light and the ambiance they create. Decorate with fire logs on the hearth and baskets brimming with knitting projects, pinecones or magazines.

6. Comfort foods. When we are talking family and friends – all things lead back to
food! Stick-to-your-ribs oatmeal brings back memories of the winters of my
childhood. Warm hardy meals – crock-pot cooking of stews and soups – hot cocoa --
home made cookies! Cooking and baking can warm up more than the kitchen.

7. There is no place like home. Because of the shorter days and early nightfall, families tend to spend more evenings at home in the wintertime. How about leaving a table set up specifically for playing cards, puzzles and board games. You can buy puzzles that come with some larger pieces and some smaller ones, so that families of all ages can enjoy putting them together – together!

8. Pamper Yourself. Keeping warm is a necessity! Hot bubble baths, pampering
lotions, flannel sheets, fuzzy robes, soft slippers – make keeping warm luxurious fun.

9. Happiness is a warm puppy. While puppies aren’t for everyone, this year my daughter brought home a puppy from the SPCA. “Willa” has such an enthusiasm for life and such unconditional love – that I now get it. Happiness is a warm puppy.

10. Be good to each other. We have no control over the bleak, cold weather outdoors –
but we can create our own safe haven with a warm and welcoming attitude indoors.

The warmth of the home and the happiness of the family are more about relationships than color or decorating or projects. When I was growing up there were 8 kids in our family. Because we went to three different Vacaville schools, my mom couldn’t pick all of us up from school, so she didn’t pick any of us up. Rain or shine, we all walked home. On wet cold days, we arrived home to a huge pot of hot lemonade on the stove. It is a winter memory that I cherish. In my family now, my husband makes pumpkin pies from scratch every winter. He shares them with our extended family, neighbors and friends. He just finished making 24 of them.

It is the spirit that warms the heart and the heart that warms the home.

Enjoy winter Keep warm!