Coming home in the wintertime should feel like one giant restorative hug, with warmth and comfort surrounding you on all sides. Here are 13 easy ways to turn your house into a blissfully snug haven. Go ahead and nest all season long while the cold wind blows.
"Designate one chair as your 'quiet chair,'" says Zen Buddhist priest and author Karen Maezen Miller. Pull it into a corner and add a fluffy throw for curling up with.
Ludde Sheepskin by Ikea, $40, ikea.com
Drapes will not only help block drafts, they'll add a nice layer of softness to your walls. Choose tightly woven fabrics with an insulated lining (often foam acrylic) for the most warmth, and hang them from ceiling to floor, which will maximize coverage and anchor the room, creating a pleasantly cocooning effect.
Mr. Rogers had the right idea: Nothing says "welcome home" like ditching your street shoes for something comfier. Plus, you'll avoid tramping around all the dirt and toxic chemicals (such as lead and pesticides) from outside.
Burgundy felt slippers by Sophie Prieur, $80, ochrestore.com
Pick pillows and blankets that resemble your favorite sweaters. Feeling crafty? Use a previously loved sweater to sew a cover for a pillow you already have.
Alpaca pillow cover by West Elm, $29, westelm.com.
Chunky knit throw, $160, and chunky knit decorative pillow, $80, by Martha Stewart Collection only at Macy's; macys.com for stores
Knitted Pouf (in blood orange) by CB2, $80, cb2.com
Push sofas, chairs, floor lamps, and tables away from the walls and into the center of large rooms. You'll create more intimacy and no doubt feel warmer if you're away from the windows. (Just be sure to allow enough space for traffic flow around the pieces.)
Table and floor lamps paired with compact fluorescent light bulbs marked "warm" or "soft" can give rooms a cozier glow than bright overhead lights. Or you can soften those overhead lights (and save energy) by installing dimmer switches from any hardware store.
"Not using a dimmer is like buying a radio with no volume knob," says Joseph A. Rey-Barreau, a lighting designer with the American Lighting Association. Just keep in mind that they tend to work better with incandescent bulbs than with CFLs.
Test for leaks by holding a candle near your window frames to see if the flame wavers, says Mindy Pennybacker, author of "Do One Green Thing,." Sealing gaps with no-VOC caulk (available at hardware stores) can save you hundreds of dollars in heating costs each year.
If you want to go even further, Pennybacker recommends clear low-emissivity films: Just stick them on window panes to keep indoor heat from escaping through the glass.