Warm Up Your House this Winter

A cozy fire on a snowy, wind-chilled winter day can be very comforting. So can a home with the warm, sunny, floral appeal of summer. Getting your home to "feel" like summer year-round can be easy and fun. And it doesn't have to break your budget.

Solariums, skylights and sun rooms are the obvious solution. Sun rooms may not have glass roofs, but they will let the sun shine through. No matter what the season, if it is sunny outside, it is sunny inside. You also get to enjoy nature's other wonders. But these projects can be expensive and sometimes disappointing. Unless you have appropriate shading, skylights and solariums can be very warm in summer, even with air conditioning.

Colour, texture, light and plants are then your best tools when it comes to creating a bright, airy, warm atmosphere in your home year-round.

Add a splash of colour

Bright paint, wall coverings and window treatments in complementary and contrasting colours can warm up almost any room, regardless of how cold and tired it may appear.

Just remember that the same colour looks different in different types of light. A red may appear cold under a fluorescent lamp, but much warmer in a room with lots of natural light. Colours also affect one another; beige may seem dull, but put it next to something like buttercup yellow or tangerine orange and it will seem a lot warmer and brighter.

The amount of colour in a room also affects the mood. An entire room of pink or yellow could be exhausting, but splashes of these colours will brighten and add interest to any room.

Lighten up

A room with dark-coloured walls and furnishings will absorb light, especially in winter. Installing more lamps or ceiling track lighting can brighten the dullest, darkest spots. With so many lighting styles, colours and sizes available today, there's no limit to what you can accomplish.

Window magic

Use windows to increase the amount of natural light a room receives. Even if the view is dreary outside, the right window treatment will increase light and make the room appear warmer and more inviting. If you don't want to look at piles of snow outside or the neighbour's brick wall, hang plants from the ceiling in front of the window. Or stretch glass shelves across the panes and show off a collection of small plants or glass bottles. The aim is to camouflage a poor view while letting the light shine through.

Brighten a room by visually enlarging a small window. To add height, attach a valance or cornice on the wall above the window from. To add width, extend the curtain rod beyond the window frame on either side. Use window coverings such as light fabric swags and valances to create a warm, summery feel.

Add light to a windowless wall by hanging a large mirror. This also gives a room depth and openness. You can visually add a window to a windowless room by hanging a mirror directly facing a real window.

Warm up with area rugs

For added warmth and colour, place area rugs in the bathroom, below a table, beneath chairs, in the hallway, living room and bedrooms. Rugs come in all shapes, sizes, textures and colours. They quickly warm up today's popular ceramic and hardwood floors.

Placed over an existing carpet in a contrasting colour, area rugs can make a room more luxurious and warm. Avoid using patterned area rugs if you have patterned wallpaper, lots of pictures on walls or collections on shelves. You want to create a warm appearance, not a cluttered one.

Plant power

Floral arrangements and houseplants, whether real or synthetic, are a great way to make your home feel summery year-round.

Fresh flowers will last longer if you cut the stems at an angle and place them in tepid water. To prevent dehydration, keep fresh floral arrangements away from drafts, including fans, heating vents, air conditioners and direct sunlight.

When selecting and placing flowering and foliage plants in a room, ensure they complement the furnishings and other decor. House plants can play a dramatic role in the design and feel of a room, but they should serve only as a backdrop to your furnishings and as a way to add warmth, colour and contrast to a room.

The look, size and shape of plants and floral arrangements should "fit" the available spaces in a room. Corners look great with tall, fan-shaped plants. Window ledges or shelves are good for low, bushy plants. Fill nooks and crannies, such as an old fireplace, with a plant that fits the space and suits the surroundings.

In the fall, bring flowering plants grown outdoors over the summer - such as geraniums and begonias indoors. You will be extending their flowering season and adding warmth and colour to your home at no additional cost.




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Burglar-Proofing Your Home
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"Warm" Up Your House this Winter

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