Warmth, flames, colour and light: these are the magic ingredients for winter makeovers in the home. Get cosy now for Christmas and the dark winter months ahead. Sara Cosgrove, head of the expanded interior design department at Harrods advises layering textiles just like clothes. Mix silk and velvet cushions with superfine cashmere throws, adding chunky knits for texture.
Place lights in dull corners to bring them to life, add room fragrances to lift your spirits and if you are in a present-buying mood, there’s a plethora of gorgeous candles: the best smells are not cheap but they burn longer with natural oils.
Neutral backgrounds (walls and floors) are easy to accessorise with the change of seasons. Paler greys (think mist and teal) are more contemporary than creams. Add touches (cushions, throws, a rug, or even curtains) of fashionable berry shades. Holly berry is obvious but for an edgier take, think damson and blueberry, in varying shades and textures.
Silver is the trend
Silvery rooms are bang on trend. Ditch the red for winter white. Very Ralph Lauren. Metallic surfaces make a virtue of weak winter light. Choose shimmering wallcoverings, silvery lamp bases and pendants in chrme/pewter/glass. Wrap up in faux fur throws and hang large mirrors in ornate silver frames.
Light for instant ambiance
Create instant ambience with up-lighters, plug-in table and/or floor lamps. A parchment or cream silk shade will flatter rooms and faces. Gold linings for metal shades spill out warm light top and bottom. Sally Storey, at John Cullen (johncullenlighting.co.uk) warns against cheap low-energy CFLs (compact fluorescents) which can produce a chilly light. Check the Kelvin rating on the packaging, aim for 2700. She suggests halogen IRC (infrared-coated) energy savers, such as the Philips Halogen, from specialist shops.
Cushions are forever
Cushions, plus multi-purpose throws and blankets, are favourite winter workhorses. They will brighten up a shabby sofa, concealing wear and stains. Buy cheap and chic at Matalan (simple cable-stitch, herringbone and tartans), with big stores in Dalston, Colingdale, Cricklewood and Lewisham (matalan.co.uk). Or commission slinky velvet loose sofa covers from new TheVelvetLab.com
The Swedish Way
Swedish Bemz (bemz.com) ritz-up the most popular designs of Ikea seating, past and present. Canadian director Lesley Pennington has lived in Sweden for 15 years. For Scandinavians, home in winter is definitely a big deal, she says. “The Swedes add textiles everywhere. They change curtains for texture and warmth, add blinds, cover furniture. That Christmassy red is the perennial favourite. Candles are lit come nightfall.”
John Lewis — of course
Choose a neutral colour for carpets, says Zoe Brady, floor coverings buyer at John Lewis. This will take you through the seasons. John Lewis prices for 80 per cent wool cost from about £19 a square metre and can be fitted within 10 days.
Modern faux flowers are beautiful and a winter godsend, says Sue Jones, founding director of OKA homestores, with a flagship shop in Fulham Road, SW3. Choose ones that have no smell and customise with dried oranges and cinnamon sticks. Festive centrepieces come ready-arranged.
Up your duvet tog rating. The Austrian Bedding Company at 205 Belsize Road, NW6 (austrianbedding.com) is the UK’s only specialist duvet shop. Goose down is the ultimate bedtime luxury. Shell out about £250 for a double duvet and it will last for life. High headboards, thickly padded and discreetly buttoned, make a comfy prop for night-time reading or catching up on your iPad.
Burn a real fire or install a stylish ceramic eco-friendly wood-burning stove from Chesney’s (in Battersea and Holloway; chesneys.co.uk).