We've put together a list of ways to make your home extra cozy and comfortable during the cold season. We've got all sorts of ideas to create a more warm and 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.
Have an outdoor room you love? Adding a fire pit or fireplace not only gives your room a dramatic centerpiece but 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.
You can't change the cause of those dreary, short days -- Earth's axis is what it is. But you can reevaluate interior lighting. Spread light throughout 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.
A bright pillow or a brilliant wall color keeps a room cheerful, even when you're stuck under weeks of 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.
-- Move 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!
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 adding one, consider including a bench, cubbies for shoes, and racks or hooks for bags and coats.
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 replace a standard slider with tall French sliding doors. Another idea: Install interior windows to keep light moving through a home.
Layer curtains and shades for insulation against 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. In summer, heavy panels can be pulled off for the simplicity of shades. Remember, open curtains 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.
Feel trapped inside during winter? Give yourself a space to get active and stretch out by converting a room into a fitness space. Add exercise equipment, mirrors, a basketball hoop for indoor games, and some mats for the kids to bounce on and you to stretch on. You'll have a great space to stay active -- one that the National Association of the Remodeling Industry says is hot with buyers.
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:
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.
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. For more information on getting your home's structure and mechanical prepped for the winter, check out the link below for more fall fix-ups.
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 gutters of fall debris before winter storms hit. Clogged gutters can lead to siding damage, basement floods, and gutter corrosion.
If you have a fireplace you're planning to use inside, prepare it for cold weather by having a chimney sweep clean it. This eliminates build-up and helps prevent a chimney fire. If you have an old fireplace, you may want to look into a fireplace insert that improves heating efficiency.
Without a humidifier, 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.
Replacing worn doormats with new mats says "welcome." This quick step also says, "We like you enough to make sure you don't slip and fall on our porch." And, finally, a new mat states, "Wipe your boots. Can't you see they're covered in dirty clumps of snow and your host doesn't feel like mopping all afternoon?" Best of all, a mat says these things politely.
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 drive? There's no need to fight first-storm crowds when you can hit the store now while the weather's nice.