Designing for Winter Weather

Builders unveiling model homes in the winter can implement these design tips to bring warmth into any home


With the chilly weather upon us, we start to wrap up our outdoor experiences and look for ways to get cozy inside. In the coming months, there are all sorts of methods of staying warm throughout the holidays, polar vortexes, and ice storms.

First, you can swap out all your linen pillows to knits, velvets, felt, and chenille pillows and throws to instantly build a layered and warm texture to your spaces.

Even curtain panels can be swapped out for vintage velvet or heavy linen.

Also think about adding layered textures to your tabletops for a bit of color and warmth for display and gatherings. I love to mix in faux fruit, gourds, or decor made of fabric that last from season to season. These elements are easy to store and stay timeless throughout the years ahead.

It’s also a great idea to incorporate decor items that work for longer than just a holiday or just one season. We keep a little fall mixed in with late summer and into the holidays so we can blend as time goes on.

Grocery store gourds are great example of late summer, fall, and early holiday décor. They last for months and can be eaten at any time as the months move on toward glitter and glam.

Another great idea is dressing storable wreaths. I have several wreaths I use as a base for embellishment from season-to-season. One of them is wrapped grapevine and the other
is faux tamarack green foliage. They can be quickly added to with leaves, boughs, lights, or just about anything for the next season. I keep them in rotation just about all year long.

Here are some more wonderful ideas to create the perfect residential space for colder climates:

1) Add a fireplace

Nothing feels warmer than a toasty gas fireplace. Modernize the surround by using a lighter natural stone and eliminate the hearth for a contemporary look. Use large décor pieces for visual warmth and layering.

Photographer Tim Nehotte,; Interior Designer Barbara Schmidt,

Gas fireplaces are a great way to spend a cold day tucked under a throw, reading or surfing the net with a glass of wine. Fireplaces are the ultimate hygge – a Scandinavian definition of coziness.

2) Add a built-in coffee system

Think about that hot espresso shot on your way out the door with a quick shot of warm milk. Now is a great time to build a coffee system into your pantry, side kitchen area, or even a mudroom for coffee on the go.

This countertop space saver is something that once you have it, you can never go
back. It’s like having a coffee shop barista on standby. Some coffee systems don’t even need plumbing so it’s simple to install.

3) Add darker color

We feel warmer when we have darker saturated colors around, so it’s a great idea to bring in depth to a space and feel that earthy connection. For a kitchen design, we used

matte black cabinetry to layer and ground in a small kitchen making it feel larger and more substantial.

Black is the most popular color after white for today’s kitchens. Black is a classic element that is a neutral to play off other colors and finishes. Just a touch of black can make a whole room feel finished and polished.

4) Add fuzzy/furry elements

A Protea in the center of a space looks fuzzy and feels furry. They have a winter vibe and that’s exactly what warms up the room.

Right now pampas grass is the rage and it’s because it warms up a space without adding bright color. Pampas grass is a natural element that creates warmth and interest as a focal point to dining rooms, living rooms, and entryways.

5) Add a freestanding soaking tub

Ever wonder what it feels like to warm up in a great bathtub? It’s one of those experiences that will warm you all the way through your bones. Soaker tubs add value to your home because they are so desirable for master suites.

Look for soaking tubs with curved sides that are comfortable and stay warm. Some of the claw foot tubs that are cast iron take the warmth out of the water with just the fill, leaving a lukewarm wash that won’t do the trick.

Barbara Schmidt is a nationally recognized Interior Designer and Marketing Expert creating authentic storytelling about spaces, places and trends. To learn more please visit

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