Provide comfort to your home by adding warmth

Depending on whom you talk to, this winter will be mild, wet, cold, harsh, epic, etc. The Old Farmers’ Almanac predicts that “this winter will be another arctic blast with above-normal snowfall throughout much of the nation.” This is great news for skiers, outdoor enthusiasts, snowmobilers, fire danger next summer, kids, and basically 90 percent of the people who live here. It doesn’t, however, change the fact that we spend more time indoors during the winter months. Cold winter weather, along with short, hectic days require us to find comfort inside our own homes. Whether coming in from a day on the mountain, or even just a quick trip to the grocery store, the feeling of a warm and cozy home is comforting.

There’s nothing worse than sitting on a cold leather sofa on a cold winter morning (or getting into a hot car with leather seats while wearing shorts in the summer). Texture, fabric and upholstery (as well as color) can really make a difference in how we feel. It’s easy to add extra pillows in a warm shade or a throw blanket in a plush fabric, cover a sofa with a warm-toned slipcover, or even paint an accent wall to quickly make a room look brighter and feel comfier. Using soft, plush textures creates a cozy atmosphere. Fabrics like velvet and wool inherently have natural warmth that feel fabulous on a cold winter day. Getting into bed with flannel sheets even adds subtle warmth. Throwing a sheepskin over a chair will instantly transform it from cold and austere to warm and comfortable. And don’t forget the floor. Nothing warms up a bare floor quicker than an area rug. Don’t underestimate the visual warmth rugs provide while adding actual warmth to an otherwise cold surface.

With colder temperatures outside and lots of gray days, we need more color indoors during the winter to create an ambiance of warmth, and not to mention, preserve our psyche. It may seem like a no-brainer, but a warm color scheme can really transform the look and feel of a space. Whether it’s paint, fabrics, or accessories, by choosing warm colors of various shades, the warm color scheme in the room will become amplified. Colors like yellow, orange and red are warm colors and are great at reflecting natural light and creating an atmosphere of warmth in the room. If you want to remain more neutral, choose a cream, beige or yellow- based white, and avoid blue or gray-based whites, as they will make the room look and feel colder.

Most of us live in Montana, and especially the Flathead Valley, because we love nature. Why not surround ourselves with it year round? Natural materials convey a wonderful sense of warmth and ensure a timeless décor. And if that wasn’t enough, sustainable materials are good for you and the environment. Find a reclaimed wood table, a wool area rug, beeswax candles, linen napkins, etc. Try decorating with nice-looking rocks you gathered at the beach or a cluster of branches you found on a hike. They’re inexpensive and add an organic look to your space. Add plants and flowers to your room; it’s another economical way to fill your home with warmth and life. Choose plants and flowers that thrive well with minimal light and a limited amount of care for extra ease. Plants and fresh flowers can breathe life into your home, literally, by adding oxygen into the air.

Another no-brainer – sunshine! Light! You know how it feels after days and days (and days and days) of not seeing a single ray of sunshine. And then BOOM – the sun is out! It automatically warms the soul. Everyone seems to be in a better mood, neighbors come out of hibernation, and it’s likely a topic of conversation everywhere we go. However, with limited sunshine, we do rely on artificial light. A lot of artificial light. This may be the best time to update or add to your lighting. The right lighting can easily add comfort and character. Simple plug-in puck lights under kitchen cabinets will brighten your workspace. Use accent lights to cozy up a dark corner. Create an inviting glow by using table lamps, floor lamps and dimmers on overhead lights. Light a candle – this literal spark of warmth works in any décor, in any room. Illuminate “feel good” objects or art on the wall. Add mirrors. Large mirrors reflect light and visually open up areas. During the day, open the blinds and drapes! Even if it’s gloomy outside, the cast of light is better than nothing. And if the sun happens to be out, it will warm your space and your spirit. At night, be sure to close the window treatments as they serve a practical purpose by blocking cold drafts and keeping the inside warmer, literally.

Use personal items – stuff with meaning. There is something charming about things with a history. Photos of friends and family, special artwork, souvenirs, collections – objects like this are so much more interesting than items found at the store. Not only do they evoke emotion, but surrounding yourself with things that you love is comforting. The decorative elements you choose can really go a long way in creating a warm living space.

Most importantly, make sure your home/area/room/space is comfortable. You’ll be spending a lot of time in there. Of course, we all want to make our living spaces inviting and comfortable, but it’s like wearing a beautiful scarf that’s itchy: It’ll keep you warm and it looks good, but it makes you miserable so you never wear it. Surround yourself with the things that feel good, make you feel good, and that you love. This applies to colors, fabrics, textures, furniture, lighting, all of the elements of a living space. Layering multiple textures and patterns together will create a cozy environment you can indulge in as well as add visual interest. Believe it or not, it can look good and feel good at the same time. So go snuggle up on the sofa with a warm throw, pour yourself a hot toddy, enjoy your warm and inviting space, and start your Netflix marathon.