As the high-streets become filled with the hustle and bustle of Christmas shoppers, the countdown to Christmas has truly begun. Winter is officially here and while I’m not a big fan of the darker, colder days the necessity to spend more time inside has its upside. It’s time to start thinking about getting your home inviting and welcoming for when you come out of the cold as well as party ready to impress your friends with your winter grotto! To get your place ‘winter ready’, the essentials are comfort and warmth, so how do you create that in your home from both a practical and style basis? We want to create a retreat from the outside world, a place to feel comfortable and relaxed in. Before you even start to think about the interior scheme you need a clear idea of what you’re tackling.
Step one: clear out last season’s clutter. Pack away any summer items and clothes you won’t need over the winter and start with a clean slate.
Whichever room of the house you’re looking at, the keys to creating a stylish, inviting winter scheme are plenty of textures, well planned lighting, and a warm colour palette. So next, think about your colour scheme. For those drawn towards a neutral base, think cosy taupes, greys and creams – a magical winter woodland. It’s advised to base your colours on warm inviting neutrals, pick greys that have a hint of brown in them alongside warm creams and taupes. Or, if you favour more rich colours, think emerald green for fir trees, the indigo blue of a winter’s night, and the ruby red of traditional Christmas baubles. The important thing is to use colour wisely: for a fantastic winter look, use deep dark colour and be brave with them – a rich red dining room, or a sumptuous navy living room, will be wonderful at this time of year.
Once you’ve decided on your colour palette, turn your attention to the heating, lighting and soft furnishings. From a practical view, you want to make sure your room is warm. The perfect winter solution is a log burning stove, not only are they incredibly efficient at pumping out heat, but also create the perfect focal point for a room. What says ‘cosy winter evening’ more than gathering around a real fire? My absolute top tip, if at all possible, is to invest in one.
Another way to make the room feel and look warm is to consider the soft furnishings; have curtains or blinds that you can actually close. Make the fabric thick and ensure that they are well-lined. Also, by picking fabrics that have texture and interest such as velvets, wools and chenilles, you’ll have the added bonus of creating the feeling of warmth and luxury. You can also use this trick in upholstery fabrics and when choosing cushions.
Throws and rugs are fantastic, and are an easy way of introducing more texture and interest. A chunky wool knit thrown over the bed or sofa is an extra layer to keep you warm whilst looking great. Rugs can be layered over hard floors and carpets to also lend a warm and luxurious feel to any room.
Lighting is the final touch to perfecting your new winter wonderland scheme. Think sparkle, gleam and twinkle. Pendant light fittings make a great statement piece, but can also be dimmed to set the scene. Add plenty of table and standing lights to keep the atmosphere warm and inviting. Don’t forget the perfect winter lighting of candles. Incorporate lanterns, candelabras, candle holders and pillar candles into your home for an authentic and romantic winter snug – you can never have too many!
Once the winter scene is set, thoughts will soon turn to having your home ready for the festive season and before you know it you’ll be clambering into the loft to dust off the festive sparkles. It’s a magical time where you can really indulge your creativity and make your own Christmas haven. You may already have a full box of decorations, but Christmas is the perfect excuse to indulge and add to them – the shops are brimming with gorgeous treats! It’s also a really good idea to get busy being creative. Some of the simplest personal touches, such as foraged pinecones, foliage gathered from winter walks and hanging orange slices that you’ve dried out can be very effective. When planning your look my advice is to keep the colour scheme simple, so if you prefer neutrals then add interest with plenty of metallics in your decorations. To add some drama to this simple look, introduce a dark navy or black through a tablecloth or linens.
If you prefer a more traditional scheme and want to introduce some colour, a simple red and gold or silver scheme is always a winner at this time of year and works well in any setting. When it comes to decorating, concentrate on your tree, mantle piece, staircase and side tables. Keep the décor on your festive table to a minimum with beautiful glass, table ware and crackers, and a simple centre piece ensuring you leave plenty of space for family, friends and most importantly – feasting!
With Christmas fast approaching, Sussex interior designer Clare Topham explores how to transform your home into a Winter Wonderland, and how to stay cosy in style throughout the cold months ahead