Preparing your home for the indoor season

Most of us are not happy about it, but the time when we will be spending more time indoors will soon be upon us. Our time of summer celebration of life outdoors, with the heat, the sounds of the sea and surf, the explosive colours and the songs of crickets, will soon be replaced by autumn, when we will be seeking warmth, more time indoors and more subdued and soothing colours. And then winter will engulf us all, the time that we will yearn for light, colour and even more warmth.

All seasons have their beauty, whatever our tastes. If we learn to look at things rather than just see around us, each and every one of our seasons can inspire us with the beauty of the colours, patterns and textures they suggest, making the transition from one season to another gentler.

If you are in any way feeling the indoor gloom already, look at your home ambience and make some changes to help lift the frame of mind. Here are some ideas to do this, hopefully helping to make the indoor transition a lot better.

Let’s begin with the change from summer to autumn and winter colour palettes. The cheery infusion of summery colours will change into autumn’s soothing and saturated colours of ochre, sienna, red, orange and midnight blues. Autumn represents the late afternoon, when natural light is golden and rich in deep hues, and is a time when we look for warmth and softness in fabrics texture, like velvet. Our fabrics’ patterns are near abstract in this season, using themes like the drops of rain.

And then winter will turn up, the still season with little natural light and muted colours. From autumn’s reds and ochre we will see more hushed greys and blues, whites and blacks, golds and yellows and more tints and shades of reds, all representing wintery themes like the warmth of fire, and the beauty of ice, snow and of lifeless stillness. Nature is dormant in winter time, similar to an abstraction, and in this sense, we may even title the prevailing style during this season as minimalist. Our fabrics now are even more warm and rich – cashmere, wool – and carry bursting abstract themes.

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Having in mind the seasonal colour palettes, begin by re-arranging the furniture in autumn and winter layouts. If you have a fireplace in the living room for example, arrange the furniture around it, making it the focal point in the room. This is where you will be spending time during those dark and cold winter days, seeking the fire’s warmth and cosiness.

Making the fireplace the central focus means that you can also reorganize things on the mantle too, the front of the fire opening and the wall on top of the mantle. Bring out your washed-out whites and greys deco items and your high quality candles, and display them on the mantle; place a prominent fire screen in front of the fire; and hang a mirror with an eye-catching frame on the wall on top of the fireplace to reflect more light in your space.

Wood-burning fireplaces (or open fires) are not allowed in certain London areas, for the obvious reason of protecting the environment in more polluted areas. Unless you are burning an authorised fuel or using exempt appliances (like burners or stoves) you cannot emit smoke from your fireplace, or you will be fined up to £1000! You can check if you are in a fire control area by visiting

There are so many alternatives today to open fires however, that this prohibition should not sway your desire for fire’s warmth. Use gel fuelled fireplaces (using alcohol) or flue-less hearths (gas fireplaces) instead. They don’t require any kind of vent or chimneys (thus saving on the energy bill), they are all clean-burners (no smoke or toxins) and are considered as safe ways of heating your home.

Our furniture too can be ‘dressed’ winter-like, by slipping covers over them, to add warmth and style. If you have summer slipping covers on the furniture remove them all, to reveal those plush winter colours and complete your winter style scheme.

Use the layering technique to welcome the indoor season with wintery coloured cushions on your sofas, on armchairs and on the bed (layer with bed covers, blankets and pillows); warm wool-made throws or sheepskins on your furniture and in the bedroom again; and fluffy winter rugs next to the bed or in the living room to replace your sisals. Rugs can be layered by using a smaller and thinner rug on top of your main rug (consider using hook-and-loop squares under the small rug to help it stay in place and prevent tripping).

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Even the kitchen can be made to look cheery in winter time. If you have a window in it, try to install coloured but sheer drapes, covering half the window only (French cafe drapes), to allow as much light in as possible. If you don’t have a window, bring in the outside by using wreaths for example, with bright flowers and natural elements. In fact, use the greening method in the entire house, with green or flowery trees in your inside garden pots or glass garden, or with green and colourful tree branches (like red berries) in your vases, to brighten the moods and remind you that spring is just around the corner!

Metallic colours – echoes of the sparkle of freshly fallen snow – on rugs, fabrics, walls and other surfaces are also a good idea to cheer us up in winter time. And so are winter fragrances like cinnamon, pine needles or evergreen displayed nicely in a glass ball on our dining table, the kitchen island; they can fill the home with seasonal cheer.

Although curtains in the winter time are best to be rich, to create a ‘cocoon’ of warmth in rooms, another idea is to replace them with lighter curtains or sheers, to allow as much light in as possible and add to the cheering up. Now, we are not suggesting that there is some kind of a rule asking you to pay for curtains in every room for each of the four seasons. If you replace your thick curtains with lighter ones, preferably colourful, you will be helping to get rid of much of the winter gloom, until temperatures rise again. If you have a good heating system, remove thick curtains altogether; your space will open up but will look more minimalist in style, just like the dormant nature outside.

And finally, use extra artificial lighting fixtures to combat the gloom as a result of the little light that we get in winter time. Use warm incandescents or warmer coloured LEDs, and try to use floor or surface lamps for the extra light rather than overhead lighting, to create ambience also.

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The seasons of the year deeply affect our senses; be it the colours they bring with them, the textures, the inspiration and even the smells, all have an impact on our daily lives, good or bad. In this sense, preparing our homes for each one of the seasons helps to minimize the effect that we don’t like, until we learn to value and welcome all that each and every one of our seasons carry with them.

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