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How to Warm Up Your House for the Winter
by Susan Dunn

Description: Easy, affordable home decorating ideas for winter.

This summer, I sat in a restored wood cabin on the island of Svir Stroy in Russia -- where the winters are winters and contemplated what it would be like to spend months and months in tiny quarters with your loved ones when it was freezing cold outside, and a matter of survival. One large room, with a very low ceiling, and special things in the corners.

I've always referred to certain tasks as "keeping the home fire burning." Why did I decorate for Christmas? Why did I send cards of everyone's birthday and anniversary? Why did I put extra effort into food presentation? Even my Camp Fire Girl chosen Indian name was something about "hearth."

Sitting there in Svir Stroy, I imagined Neanderthals huddled around the fire, getting as close to each other and their animals as they could, to stay warm. And yes, in the Svir Stroy larger cabins there was as barn on one side where the animals spent the winter.

And of "3 dog nights," nights so cold the eskimos bedded down with 3 dogs, instead of 2, or 1, or none.

I always start "nesting" in the fall; even more so than when I was pregnant. I start doing needlework again - sometimes sweaters, sometimes needlepoint pillows of pictures. I bake more, want to serve hearty stews and steamy chilis, and more bread, the staff of life.

What can you do to make your home "warmer" in the winter? Work with that primitive scene - the furs, the closeness, the color of fire, the need to hunker down.

- Change to the winter slip covers, in velvet, or corduroy, in deep colors of the fire - remember it goes to "blue" when its hottest. Deep jewel tones.

- Bring out the accent pieces - some pillows with handwork you've bought or made, the winter afghan you drape casually over the sofa.

- Bring things in closer, and closer to the fireplace, so people can figuratively "huddle." Rearrange the furniture to encourage closeness, generally just bringing it in closer, in a smaller space.

- Buy a Lab and put him on his bed in front of the fireplace. j.k. about buying one for the occasion, but is there anything like watching your animal companion nested in his bed by the hearth. Make that possible; buy a special winter bed for him or her.

- Change out the bedspreads and duvets to the winter fabrics and color scheme, and bring out the flannel sheets.

- Start a collection of 'winter' pictures you build over the years. I've framed different photos of the kids skiing, in their snowsuits, and trying to catch snowflakes with their tongues.

- Change a few photo frames seasonally. Pictures I have in the guest bath, I change according to season. The color scheme is neutral, and I have a winter set of towels, soaps, dishes, and frames.

- Work with the lighting if you can, especially if you work at home. It's the season for SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and we need as much light as we can get. If you have a home office, try some of those health lamps.

- Change lamp shades in the living areas. Switch to ones that send out warm, golden tones.

- If you have a specially cold room - in temperature and/or in decor - buy one of those stoves.

- Make it smell warm and cozy. Do some real cooking on the weekends when everyone's home. Few of us get to walk in the door at night and smell the pot roast cooking or the wonderful odor of stew simmering on the back burner, but you can do this on the weekend. Special breads as well. If you're not allergic to candle aromas, work with those.

Even a touch or two can make a difference. On the North Shore of Chicago where I lived as a teen, in the windy city where it was always "colder by the Lake," the sign that winter was coming was the funkia blooming. I always got that excited twinge when my mother changed out the slipcovers. Ah ... winter was coming.

This year why not redo the fireplace accessories? They're often the focal point of the great room. Spruce up the screen and hardware, and perhaps find an exceptional new container for some logs. Invest in a set of sumptuous brass andirons. Brass and pewter are great for "warming up" a room.

Stay warm AND SAFE - Get the carbon monoxide detectors, escape ladders, smoke alarms, smoke guards, creosote removers, stove boards and hearth extenders, critical products to improve the safety of your home and family from fires. There is a great source here: http://fireplaceoutfitters.com/safetyessentials.htm . And have a warming hearth rug for ambiance as well as safety.

(c)Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc. I offer coaching around emotional intelligence for personal and professional development. I also offer distance learning courses and ebooks. I train and certify EQ coaches. Email sdunn@susandunn.cc for free ezine. For daily EQ Tips, send blank email to EQ4U-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.


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