From Better Homes and Gardens
Even on the tightest of budgets, it's easy to transform your home into a true refuge. Turn to these ideas when the weather outside is dark, dreary and cold, or whenever your house needs a brighter, cozier vibe.
Bring on the layers.
You add layers to protect against the winter chill outside, so why not take the same approach with your home? A patterned runner—or any pretty piece of fabric you fancy—livens up a tablecloth in the dining room and gives the illusion of warmth. Window valances help a space feel less drafty and more colorful. In the bathroom, bring extra towels out of hiding and hang one color atop another for a neat, layered look.
Choose a warm hue.
Small, affordable accessories that add a temporary touch of seasonally appropriate color can increase your cozy quotient in a big way. Pillows, throws, vases and place mats in warm, deep shades of red, brown, green, eggplant and gold can instantly warm up a room.
Cover up hardwoods.
Bare wood floors make a sleek statement all year round, but winter is the right time to change things up with several throw rugs. They can add texture, color and pattern for visual interest—not to mention a warmer feel under your feet.
Light up a fire(place).
Chimney sealed? Even a technically unused hearth can still bring warmth to a room. Group pillar candles of various sizes and heights in a fireplace for a display that's the next best thing to a toasty fire. Place a mirror behind the candles to enhance the luminary effect (check local thrift stores to score a cheap one). Or arrange candle groupings on side tables, buffets or in a neat line down the center of a dining table or kitchen counter.
Add cozy scents.
A fragrant brew of spices will keep your space smelling as cozy as it feels—and for next to no cost. Just combine orange peels, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom and water in a saucepan, and let it simmer through the day or during a get-together. Or try an essential-oil diffuser for a similar effect.
Bring blooms to your rooms.
It's hard to beat fresh flowers for adding warmth and color to any space, no matter how small the budget. Oriental lilies offer a lot of bloom for your buck. They last for days and are wonderfully fragrant, and you can pluck off spent petals while fresh blooms are still emerging. Disassemble an inexpensive mixed bouquet from the grocery store and place flowers in small vases or tea cups, jelly jars and other repurposed vessels for petite bursts of color in every corner.
Mind the gaps.
Crowded furniture can make a room feel too busy or smaller than it really is—but on the other hand, unused space can give a room an uninvitingly chilly feel in winter. Try closing up spaces between pieces, snuggling them in toward one another in the center of the room. (And always avoid the "waiting room" look of all your furniture pushed back against the walls.) Result: an arrangement that's better designed for conversation.
Encourage friendly competition.
There's a very thin line indeed between a cozy night and cabin fever. Tread on the right side by keeping one of your family's favorite board games, a deck of cards or a puzzle on a coffee table to preempt doldrums and encourage together time. Sub in a new game every couple weeks—before anyone has a chance play the "bored" card.
Bring the outside in.
It might sound counterintuitive, but there's something about the fresh greenery of the outdoors that cozies up the indoors. Try placing pine branches in lovely urns and buckets around the house. Add branches or twigs for shape, height and texture, and wrap birch bark around canning jars filled with pine boughs for woodsy arrangements.
Make over your pillows.
The first rule of cheap chic—removable pillow covers. They make seasonal decor change a cinch. For a cuddlier look and feel, swap in ones made of deliciously tactile fabrics like velvet, chenille, suede or—best of all—faux fur. If you're feeling crafty, recycled sweaters from the thrift store can easily be transformed into fetching pillow-wear.
Turn over a new leaf.
Potted plants add brightness and a welcome reminder of warmer weather to come in any room of the house. Small citrus trees, like Meyer lemon or calamondin orange, do especially well in pots (you'll want to move them outside in the summer), and can even bear fruit throughout the winter with the right care.
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