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The South African winter may not be the coldest when compared to the rest of the world but most of us can agree that the icy winds, crisp, dry air and rain in some parts of the country are cold enough to warrant a few changes to cosy up your home.
We asked interior designer, writer and editor of SA Decor and Design, Marcia Margolius, award-winning lifestyle blogger, Karen Kelly (Lovilee Blog), Interior Designer and winner of the Johannesburg HOMEMAKERS Expo Designer Spaces Challenge 2020 winner, Lindiwe Ludonga (Blooming Oaks Inc.) and Deputy Editor of Visi magazine, Annemarie Meintjes to share how they are getting their homes ready for winter.
Firstly, how to make up the ultimate, snuggly winter bed. All three agree that it’s all about quality winter sheets and duvet inners. “I love the feel of good quality sheets on my body; so winter sheets are a must for those cold winter nights with a duvet and a single-ply blanket – as much as I want to warm up; I also don’t want anything too heavy that I can’t even turn in the bed,” says Lindiwe.
It’s all about “…poofy, fluffy and snuggly” according to Karen. “I also swap the summer duvet inners in all the rooms with poofy and cosy feather ones and add a snuggle blanket to each bed. Everyone in our family has bed socks and snuggly pyjamas so no need to spend extra on electric blankets or heaters in our rooms,” says Karen.
Marcia’s technique is to layer her beds from the bottom up and to mix and match textures. “Starting with a mattress protector, crisp white linen and quality duvet inner and pillows. Mixed with a luxurious faux throw, layered with a cosy blanket… and for finishing touches, scatters (OMG, do I love pillows).” recommends Marcia.
Whether she is in Johannesburg or Cape Town, Annemarie aims for a comforting and cosy bed. “In Johannesburg, I sleep under a Muscovy down-filled duvet that I bought in Copenhagen. The gentle down of the Muscovy reminds me of my childhood eiderdown. It is comforting and cosy. In Cape Town I sleep under a duck down duvet… but I switch on the electric blanket to warm my bed.” says Annemarie.
Whether they’re piled on the bed or scattered throughout the house, blanket and throws to cuddle under, especially while watching TV, are a winner all round. Another favourite of both Lindiwe and Marcia is the use of candles and fragrances to create a cosy ambience. “I love candles and candlelight but I steer away from them since I have young inquisitive minds running around the house!” adds Lindiwe.
After endearing a house so cold that their breath caused steam, Karen and her hubby did a bit of research and installed aerolite in the roof of their previous home, “…it made almost a 3 degree Celsius difference in the home and kept the upper floor cooler in summer as well.” Karen recalls. Learning from the experience, they gradually installed insulation in their current home to lower the need for heaters and fans all year round. With better heat retention thanks to the insulation, Karen adds that she keeps the cold out with a DIY solution, “I also did a DIY draught excluder installation on all of our windows that open this really helps with keeping the cold outside.”
Annemarie relied on underfloor heating, which she would have on from the end of April to mid-August. That was “Before our Eskom-Issues…” she says. “But lately I have learned to create the illusion of warmth. Replace the cool light bulbs with warm light, and use the floor and table lamps turned on rather than the overhead lights.” Annemarie adds. She also borrows a gas heater from friends when Johannesburg gets very cold. She is still on the lookout to find the perfect heating solution that is compact enough to store or beautiful enough to have on permanent display.
Sustainable and alternative home heating solutions are also popular with our home gurus. “Nothing beats the warmth of a fire in winter. The fireplace is the heart of our home – to cosy up in – nothing like a roaring flame and crackle of wood!” Marcia explains.
Lindiwe is currently in the process of swapping out her open flame fireplace for a cast iron fireplace to warm her home, “I find that the open one is beautiful to look at but doesn’t really warm up the large open plan living area of the space and as such takes up too much wood to keep the space warm for longer.” says Lindiwe.
Karen made her dream of a fireplace a reality last winter, “We positioned it towards the centre of the home so that it warms up most of the house. A fireplace creates such a great ambience but also provides real heat.” says Karen.
There are a few trends to play with to pull your winter home look together. According to Karen and Marcia, earthy tones and accents of warm spices such as “…Light greys, beiges, natural woods or off whites are the perfect colour palette this winter.” according to Karen.
Marcia adds a mix of 60’s and 70’s style with a modern twist, vintage classics, abstract art, wallpaper and sustainability trends to consider this season.
When it comes to making your home cosy it’s all about creating a space you love and feel comfortable in. Marcia enjoys having her home filled with area rugs, scatters, a mixture of fresh flowers and plants and is always on the hunt for art and mirrors.
Karen’s ideal bedroom is all about simplicity, intentional design and functionality, “Less is more when it comes to my ideal bedroom. I love the spaciousness of my bedroom and that it is light and airy, creating a space that you love and love to relax in, you do spend almost half the day in your bedroom, even if it is with your eyes shut. Gone are the days that we just put things in our bedroom without giving them much thought. Design and Decorate with intention – have things in your bedroom that either have function or spark joy or both.”
“I think after this global lockdown, everybody will have a very definite view of how they want to live, what they want in their homes and whatnot,” suggests Annemarie. Looking to the future, she thinks we are moving away from “decor and lifestyle movements” towards what warms us “…body and soul”. She adds that “…there will always be a need for retail-therapy – definitely rather than only shop visits.”
For Lindiwe a cosy home is made with, “a good fireplace inside the house, well-sealed windows and doors to keep the warmth in, cosy area rugs and for the outdoors a fire pit with cosy seating coupled with beautiful throws make for lovely family gathering space!”
Whatever you choose to do to make your home cosy this winter, make sure to use HOMEMAKERS to connect with a home expert in your area.