Well with the news I shared with you about our new apartment you won’t be surprised to hear that interiors are high on my agenda at the moment. As it happens I have two big home projects on because we arrived back from our holiday in Turkey to discover that there had been a leak in a bathroom which resulted in the ceiling in the breakfast room below collapsing – and that room is open plan to another so suddenly we have a problematic insurance claim on our hands. Why is it that these things always happen while you’re away? We’ve been at home for the other 50 weeks of this year! We have to get the insurance claim finalised this week if we want the rooms back in time for Christmas so I’ve had to work on refurbishment plans every night, using up all of my blogging time. So while I’ve been busy putting room schemes together, I thought I’d look at easy ways to make your home cosy for winter.
Everyone I talk to seems to be busy with home projects at the moment after spending the summer focusing on their gardens. As the nights draw in and it looks as though we’ll be spending more time than ever within our own four walls, it’s worth making the most of what we have. When I look back to my days editing Selfridges magazine, it was always the interiors shoots that I enjoyed doing the most and if you’d asked me 10 years ago what I’d be blogging about, it would have been home rather than fashion. Having said that, the world of interiors blogging is a strange one – I wouldn’t want to get to the point where I’m having a different kitchen fitted every season so I’ll probably just do the occasional post as we refurbish our apartment (or restore flood damage) and leave it at that. Anyway for now, I’m going to dust off some of my old styling skills and talk about easy ways to make your home cosy for winter.
Easy ways to make your home cosy for Winter
When you’re living with darker days and nights your senses become heightened and so that’s what I always concentrate on at this time of year. If you appeal to them you’ll get so much more pleasure out of the time you spend at home so it’s worth considering how you’re stimulating your sense of:
- Touch – using textures
- Sight – by enhancing lighting
- Smell – with candles, log fires and home fragrance
- Sound – listening to a good music system
- Taste – enjoying good food and wine
For now my focus is on the first three so I’m thinking about:
- Texture – throws, cushions, baskets of logs or blankets and upgrading the textures of simple, everyday touchpoints such as mugs.
- Lighting – we’re gradually introducing smart lighting into every room so that we have voice activated levels for different moods throughout the house.
- Fragrance – we haven’t lit any of our log fires yet but I have started burning candles again. After working in the industry I could go on about candles for hours but I’ll just say that some of the biggest luxury brands are complete rip-offs – I watched their fragrances being developed alongside washing powder ranges using the same technologists and ingredients. However I have a lot of time for Diptyque, True Grace and my absolute favourite is Artisan Parfumeur. If you’d like to know more about candles, here’s a blog post I wrote about the world of home fragrance when I stopped working in the business (and the poor old White Company didn’t come out of it very well).
Bear in mind that one of the most cost effective ways of fragrancing your home can be by using an oil burner rather than a candle – just add a few drops of essential oil to water in the gold bowl and light a tealight underneath. I sometimes dot them around the house and burn the companion oil to the candle I’ve lit so that the house is filled with fragrance.
As far as oils are concerned make sure you buy essential oils rather than diffuser oils. Diffuser oils will simply sit on top of the water and burn off straight away. Despite my experience with their candles, I do believe that The White Company make some of the best burner oils around – you can find them all here. You can, of course, go slightly higher tech and invest in an ultrasonic diffuser although having tested many in my previous home fragrance life, they can be high maintenance and I never found one that didn’t ruin the fragrance of the oil with steam.
When we were away last weekend we spent quite a bit of time in John Lewis & Partners looking for inspiration. I think we’ve all read that their plan is to devote more floorspace to interiors as they go forward and we were keen to look at their own brand ranges. I have to say we did end up spending ages in their Smart Home department though – it’s amazing what you can do now with the ‘internet of things.’ (You may notice I’m wearing a visitor’s badge – I’d mentioned to the team that I might go in and it means we can take photos while we’re there without worrying the security teams).
As I usually shop online I hadn’t realised what a clear delineation there is between House, Croft and John Lewis & Partners. House is clean, contemporary, urban and well priced. It reminds me of Habitat as it was in the 90s before Sainsbury’s bought it and it will be brilliant when we start furnishing our city centre apartment. Croft has a modern rustic feel so it works better for our old Georgian farmhouse and John Lewis & Partners seems to cover the fundamentals as well as encompassing JL&P’s core styles. Here are some of the pieces I saw in store to give you an idea of the breadth of the ranges:
Easy ways to make your home cosy for winter – House by John Lewis
Clean lines, pared back style and great value. A lot of the pieces are a similar price to IKEA but better quality.
- Tiger bedlinen – tigers are the animal du jour as far as interiors are concerned this season. This is a cost effective way of adding warm colours to your bedroom for winter.
- Touch lamp – these come as a pair and are an amazing price, especially as there’s no fiddling around to find a switch to turn them on and off, just a light touch does the trick. The reflective chrome base will bounce light around.
- Simple side table – this reminds me of Ercol but at a fraction of the price. A great way to add extra lighting into a small space, simply top with a lamp and you’ve boosted the ambient mood. Also available in black.
- Pleated cushion – this range has entry point cushions at great prices that have a little more interest than a simple square. Also available in grey.
- Table lamp – the exposed bulb on this will update your interiors and it’s an easy way of adding more light to a small space such as a bookshelf. Also available in mustard.
- Magazine rack / side table – a genius piece of multi-tasking, store your glossies with the nicest covers facing out and have somewhere to rest a cup of tea while you’re reading them.
- Low profile chair – such a streamlined piece of furniture, this is great for a spot where you want a comfortable extra seat but don’t have space for a full armchair.
- Arc lamp – this adds an architectural curve to your scheme whilst also enabling you to read in a pool of light as the nights draw in. Also available in black.
A moment of delight in store when I found the tiger bedlinen and realised it matched the tiger facemask I was wearing.
I couldn’t fit this tactile felt laundry basket into the collage but I wanted to show it to you anyway because it’s a much better shape than a barrel and it’s divided into two sections for lights and darks.
Easy ways to make your home cosy for winter – Croft and John Lewis & Partners
Moving on to rustic Croft paired with quality JL&P mainline for an eclectic interior scheme.
- Faux fur throw – you can’t beat the textural delight of a satin backed fur throw when you’re watching a movie on a winter night. They last forever – the one we use on a daily basis is now over 20 years old. Also available in soft pink or arctic grey.
- Succulents – the plant department at JL&P is one of my favourite places to linger which makes Mr MC shudder because I’m Freddie Kruger when it comes to plants. However they’re all chosen for their shape and they come in beautiful pots so I’m not surprised that it’s one of the fastest growing departments in the whole store.
- Centre light fitting – I wonder if you have as many debates as we do about the ‘big light’ in your rooms. Everyone in our family knows that I hate to see them turned on because of the shadows they cast and yet I still like the light fitting to be beautiful. The flush fitting on this one will help bounce light onto the ceiling rather than down into the corners of the room.
- Textured velvet cushion – just looking at this gives you a sense of comfort and textured velvet goes one step further than plain. Also available in grey, saffron or vermillion.
- Fluid coffee table – I love this, it has the architectural shape of the iconic Noguchi but I think it’s more attractive – and of course a fraction of the price. It will work especially well with a corner sofa to break up the solid blocks of rectangles in a room. Also available in oak.
- Brass floor lamp – again this echoes a designer favourite, the Flos Arco but at a much more affordable price. I’ve picked brass for warmth but it’s also available in chrome and white.
- Marble bedding – marble is a trend that is crossing over with fashion and the contrast of a solid surface effect on a fluid fabric dazzles the eye.
- Ergonomic mug – the perfect shape for warming your hands with a hot chocolate after cold winter walks. There are lots of other dipped colour combinations available.
- Striped towels – interiors stylists are moving towards brightening up the bathroom using patterned towels – an easy way to make a high impact update. Available in other colourways.
Other great high street interiors destinations
As I start to think about the interiors of the apartment I’ll be working hard to mix lower cost pieces in among the investments that we’ll be making so I’m starting to explore options now. There are a couple of other apartments in the same building being let out on AirBnB so although we have the advantage of having by far the best views, ours is still going to need to stand out visually. Because we’ll be keeping it as uncluttered as possible, I’ll be thinking carefully about the shape and texture of everything we buy. There will be a locked cupboard of luxury touches that I can bring out and use to boost it when we’re spending our own time there though.
- Seagrass basket – baskets are a great way to introduce the texture of throws without the perpetual hassle of arranging them artfully over your sofas
- Sheepskin rugs – always good for winter but a particularly big interiors trend this season. I like the ski chalet feeling of using them to cosy up a leather chair. If you have cats or dogs you’ll know that they tend to be drawn to them so it’s worth looking beyond the classic cream colourway and this is well priced.
- Eucalyptus– an interesting trend coming out of the fact that the AW interiors shoots had to be done during lockdown when fresh flowers were hard to source is the use of dried flowers. If you can get hold of it, fresh eucalyptus is a fragrant and cost effective way of adorning your home in winter. If not, it’s easy to buy dried bunches like these. More options here.
- Deer cushion – I always feel a bit guilty buying cushions that are just for Christmas so this is a great winter woodland option at an incredible price and it will see you all the way through to spring. I like the fact that they sell the covers only so you don’t end up with lots of cushion pads that you don’t need – and of course they’re much better on a packaging / delivery front. Also available in deep red.
- Fur beanbag – I find that teens are more likely to join us to watch a movie if I bring a beanbag into the room for some reason and of course in more ordinary times they’re handy if you have extra guests too. They vary enormously in terms of price but this is a good one for adding an organically shaped expression of texture to your room. Also available in ivory.
- Tiger cushions – more cost effective cushions for bringing a touch of this season’s trend to an otherwise minimal scheme. They come in a set of two and are a good price for velvet.
- Chunky blankets – I’ve been chatting to some of you in the comments about my desire to knit one of these blankets but I know it’s never going to happen. However there’s a whole cottage industry of women who are doing it at home in the UK at the moment so it’s good to support people who are using their skills. Many more options here.
- Rattan planter – ceramic plantpots can be great for bouncing light but when it comes to larger plants, textured rattan can give a softer contrast – don’t worry, there’s a waterproof pot hidden away inside. 20% off all interiors here with code AGEN20.
I’m going to finish with a couple of shots taken from the latest edition of the John Lewis & Partners interiors magazine. They capture the winter interiors mood – note how the stylist has used mixed textures throughout the room along with dried foliage. The pampas grass reminds me of dusty 1980s student houses but I do think it could have a renaissance as long as you change it after a few months…
… and this one includes dried honesty, that takes me straight back to my childhood when my mum used to bring it in from the garden in winter. If you don’t grow it, you can buy dried honesty here and here.
So that was a small segue away from my usual topics and I must now work out what I’m actually going to do with our poor room that has been stripped back to the original wattle and daub. I’ll be back with a style post on Friday, a try-on from this week’s new Boden drop. Until then, enjoy the rest of your week.
Disclosure: ‘Easy ways to make your home cosy for winter’ is not a sponsored post although as you know, I do have an ongoing relationship with John Lewis & Partners. Spending time in their store while we were away was completely my idea(!)
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