Get yourself and your home ready for cooler weather with these easy design ideas, home maintenance to-dos and quick projects to keep your house feeling sunny, comfortable and welcoming to guests and prospective buyers throughout the cold-weather season.
We’ve put together a list of ways to make your home extra cozy and comfortable during the cold season. You’ll find all sorts of ideas to create a welcoming home during even the nastiest winter storms, plus a few basic home-maintenance tips and tricks. Let it snow! We’ve got you covered.
1. Make Outdoor Spaces Cold-Weather Friendly
Does your home have an outdoor room or backyard structure that you love? Adding a fire pit or fireplace not only gives your room a dramatic centerpiece but also lets you enjoy the space during cool fall evenings. Permanent fireplaces give you the most visual bang, but fire pits typically throw off more heat.
2. Enhance Lighting
You can’t change the cause of those dreary, short days—but you can reevaluate your home’s interior lighting. Spread light throughout all your rooms for an overall glow. Add uplights for a little extra shine and task lighting for rooms where you’ve got work to do.
Another quick tip: Check the quality of the light in the bulbs you have. Bulbs with a high color-rendering index give the truest light.
3. Brighten Rooms with Color
A bright pillow or a brilliant wall color keeps your home’s rooms cheerful, even when you’re stuck for weeks under gray skies. If color makes you nervous, here are a few tips to remember:
—Keep trim the same color throughout your home to unite spaces wearing different wall colors.
—Carry color throughout your home. The color on one room’s wall can be another room’s accent pillow or vase.
—Pick colors out of your closet for surefire winners. If you wear them, you’ll probably enjoy living with them.
—Have an open floor plan? That limits your ability to transition from color to color. Instead, pick one you love!
4. Home Update: Add a Mudroom
A mudroom is a first-line defense against winter muck, giving you a place to clomp the ice off your boots and shake the frozen rain off your slicker. It also provides much-needed storage for those extra layers of warm winter clothes. If you’re considering building a mudroom for your next home project, be sure to include a bench, cubbies for shoes and racks or hooks for bags and coats.
5. Add Light with Windows
Some homes are dreary even in full summer sun. If your home seems dim year-round, maybe it’s time to rethink the windows. Identify which rooms suffer from a lack of light. Some great opportunities for adding windows could include a new door with an inset window, or consider replacing a standard slider with tall French sliding doors. Another idea: install interior windows to keep light moving through a home.
6. Use Curtains to Eliminate Drafts
Layer curtains and shades for insulation against your home’s window drafts. Look for curtains made of insulating material. Or bulk up a light fabric with a layer of cotton flannel on the backside. Layers mean you can quickly change the look of your windows. For example, in summer, heavy panels can be pulled off for the simplicity of shades. Remember, open curtains can help reduce energy use, too. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends keeping drapes open on south-facing windows during the day during heating season.
A few simple steps will keep all those cozy spaces comfortable and safe from the damage a harsh winter can inflict. And you may also save some money, thanks to increased energy efficiency. Here’s how:
7. Turn on Your Home’s Ceiling Fans
One extra-simple step to save cash? Use ceiling fans to reverse the airflow. In summer, you want air blowing downward for a cooling effect. Reverse the fan in winter so that it circulates the hot air around the room. This works especially well in rooms with high ceilings. Hot air rises and collects near the ceiling, so bring it down where people gather.
8. Complete Outdoor Repairs
Whether it’s peeling siding, a leaky roof spot or drafty windows, now is the time to patch or replace old elements that no longer keep air and moisture out. Making sure your house’s exterior is in tip-top shape not only keeps it in top working order during winter months, it also helps boost your curb appeal for prospective buyers.
9. Attend to Your Home’s Gutters
One surefire way to cause problems in winter—especially during those random midwinter thaws —is to let drainage problems go unchecked. Avoid that by cleaning your home’s gutters of fall debris before winter storms hit. Clogged gutters can lead to siding damage, basement floods and gutter corrosion.
10. Practice Fireplace Maintenance
If your home has a fireplace you’re planning to use, prepare it for cold weather by having a chimney sweep clean it during the fall months. This eliminates buildup and helps prevent a chimney fire. If your home has an older fireplace, you may want to look into a fireplace insert that improves heating efficiency.
11. Purchase a Humidifier
Without a humidifier in your home, heated indoor air can cause uncomfortably dry skin and increase your susceptibility to colds. Humidifiers can be purchased to add moisture to single rooms or to a whole house. Humidifiers need to be regularly cleaned and often need filter changes to guard against mold and mildew. If you’re adding a humidifier to a child’s room, consider a cool-mist humidifier, which uses a fan rather than heat to distribute moisture.
12. A Functional, Welcoming Mat
Replacing your home’s worn doormats with new mats says “Welcome!” to winter visitors and prospective homebuyers. This quick step also says, “We care enough to make sure you don’t slip and fall on our porch.”
13. Stock Up on Outdoor Winter Supplies
Rather than waiting until the first snowstorm hits, go through your garage now and size up your salt, sand and shovel supplies. Are your shovels free from cracks? Do you have ample supplies of salt and sand to manage any icy deposits on your sidewalk and driveway? There will be no need to fight first-storm crowds if you can hit the store now while the weather’s nice.
Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens. Used with permission. © Meredith Corporation. http://www.meredith.com. All rights reserved.