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Cozy Up Your Home | Winter 2005 Out Here Magazine

A few touches can chase away winter's chill

By Andrea Estrada

When cold winds and an arctic chill herald the onset of winter, your home becomes a welcome refuge from the elements. A crackling fire, soft music and a few decorating changes can transform your humble abode into a cozy retreat that warms your spirit and nurtures your soul.

"It all has to do with the senses," says Bunny Delorie, a Goleta, CA, interior designer.

"The first thing I think about is color," Delorie says. "When we walk into a room and get that warmth, we're reacting to color." With that in mind, she suggests putting a coat of paint on your walls, choosing from a palette of yellow-based shades.

You can change slip covers, throw pillows, and linens from season to season to add color to your living room or bedroom. Keep two sets of sofa slip covers on hand — one for fall and winter, the other for spring and summer. Or choose a cream color you can use year 'round and enhance the look with sage green or persimmon pillows a wool afghan or chenille throw.

In your bedroom, trade the pastel-colored comforter or bedspread for one in a deeper shade. Also, try layering the linens on your bed by topping a comforter with a coverlet or quilt in a complementary pattern or color.

Lighting enhances whatever color you bring into a room and warm glow light bulbs and winter white lampshades will create the prettiest picture, Delorie says. The goal is to maximize wattage without producing glare. Also, opt for table and floor lamps rather than overhead lighting.

"And candles are great," she says. "The light from beeswax candles makes a wonderful glow."

With your family and friends spending more time indoors, arrange your furniture into a configuration that invites more conversation. Pull pieces away from the wall and group them into conversational areas, perhaps in front of the fireplace.

"Don't overdo, though," Delorie says. "Depending on the size of your room, a sofa or loveseat along with a couple of chairs and an ottoman might be plenty. If you bring in too many chairs, the room can look cluttered."

Also, think about creating a reading corner where you can settle in with a good book. Outfit the space with a comfortable chair, warm throw, and small table to hold a cup of hot chocolate or tea.

Bring the outdoors in. Accent your rooms with natural elements such as a handmade pottery bowl filled with pine cones or pine boughs and eucalyptus leaves arranged across a living room mantel. Add a few votive candles in small glass holders and you have a beautiful winter tableau.

Fill your home with fragrances that evoke feelings of comfort. A grouping of bayberry-scented candles, for example, give off a pleasant aroma associated with winter. Or drop a handful of cinnamon sticks and whole cloves into a pot of simmering water and let the scent waft through the house.

"The more effort you put into making a cozy home," Delorie says, "the happier you'll make the people who live there."

Andrea Estrada, a Santa Barbara, CA, writer who specializes in home decor and garden design, cozies up her home with her own fragrant essential oil blends.