Once the clocks have wound back it’s impossible not to notice the darkening days and slow dwindling of the light. We may not be hibernating animals, but we can still feel winter’s call to retreat, hunker down, and seek sanctuary for the final turn of the year. If I was to survey all my friends and family on their favourite season, I don’t think many would reply with “winter”, but with a little preparation and help from our homes, we can find pleasure and rest in it. And of course we can appreciate a welcoming winter home even more as we return to it after a foray into the darkness and cold which lies beyond.
Restyle your hallway
If the world outside feels a bit brutal or bleak, it’s even more important to create a sense of your home welcoming you back and then holding you securely inside. The hallway is an important transitional space to focus on in winter.
- Hang a thick curtain on the back of the front door to keep the heat in, soften the hallway, and amp up the cosiness.
- Make sure you have adequate storage near the front door for winter clothing. A narrow bench with compartments underneath can work really well for shoes and boots. If you don’t have a cloakroom then a small wooden wardrobe keeps coats, hats and gloves hidden away.
- Set a hallway light on a timer switch so that you are welcomed back into a softly glowing space when you return after dark.
Reinforce your connection to the winter landscape
When we are spending more hours of the day indoors, it’s easy to lose contact with the natural world and its ability to stir and soothe us. By bringing some of the outside in you’ll still access these benefits.
- Keep opening windows every day – even ten minutes will help to refresh the air in the room, expose you to natural airflow and sounds, and let out any pollutants. You might also like to try sleeping with a small window open at night.
- Bring in some cuttings from the garden and display on mantelpieces, in vases and wreaths. Even in winter the garden is rich with inspiration: evergreen foliage such as holly, ivy, rosemary and ferns, structural flower heads and seed pods such as poppies and hydrangeas, and flowers such as hellebores, catkins and anemones.
- Even if you don’t have a stove, stack up some logs in your living room – being around wood can reduce our heartrate and blood pressure.
Evoke a cosy winter mood through light, sound, texture and smell
Appealing to all of your senses can be a way to make winter more nourishing and enjoyable. It’s a great way to emphasise all the positive associations with the colder, darker months.
- Blend essential oils such as orange, cinnamon and clove, which you can put in a diffuser or leave in a dish of water to evaporate.
- Create a playlist of wintery music which makes you think of all the things you enjoy about the season.
- Make sure you have dimmable and warm lighting in all rooms, which will create cosiness but not interrupt your body’s circadian rhythms in the evenings.
- Celebrate the darkness by using it as a backdrop for light displays: twist external string lights around trees and bushes, hang led stars in the windows, and put clusters of tealights and candles in the middle of the dining table.