Cold front: how to make your home winterproof
Our experts have simple tips to make those long nights in worth running home for
Time to cosy up. Photograph: Getty
Owner, Holden Interiors
“Starting outside the front door, I really enjoy swapping container and window box plants to something completely different for winter. Some of my favourites include tree ferns, skimmia and bamboo. I love plants with striking stems or foliage and not necessarily with flowers, as they make a more architectural statement.
Placing a mix of a couple of contemporary lanterns with candles adds an atmospheric glow and nice welcome for guests when entertaining. Garden lighting is also a lovely way to brighten up the garden view on darker winter nights, especially if it can be seen from the living area.
“One of the simplest, most cost-effective ways of brightening up a home for winter is by cleaning the windows, inside and out. It can increase the natural light by up to 20 per cent. Now is also a good time to inspect and see to any draughts around windows and doors. Heavy interlined curtains were originally designed to alleviate draughts and are still a worthwhile addition if replacing curtains in colder houses.
“There’s something lovely about cosying up beside the fire on a long winter’s evening. Aside from the warmth, I love the radiance and movement of the flames. They add on the spot character. Clean chimneys, check vents, smoke alarms and C02 monitors. All that’s left then is to stock up on plenty of fuel. I love the look of chunky wicker baskets stacked full of fuel beside a roaring fire. If you’re thinking of changing over from an open fire to a stove, look for the largest glass door you can get, so that the fire itself will be as prominent as possible.”
Co-owner, Dust Interiors
“Easy ways of making your home the place you want to settle into are by piling up the textures in your home. Rugs on top of rugs are such a great look and add some lovely warmth to your home. Layer on the sheepskins and wool throws on sofas and beds. Get some soft velvet cushions to snuggle into. Increasing occasional lighting is another easy way of getting some atmosphere into your home on those dark nights. Instead of harsh overhead lighting, use multiple side lamps and floor lamps to create pockets of light that create a lovely warm glow in a room.
“If you really want to change things up, go dark on the walls. Browns are making a resurgence this winter and they’re filled with gorgeous aubergine and plum undertones. But any dark tone on a wall immediately creates a sense of warmth – we’re using greens a lot at the moment. If you’re a bit scared of going the whole hog with dark walls, we often just paint up to the picture rail which means you get the cosy feel without that all-enveloping dark wall.
“In terms of practical tips for winter-proofing, we recommend getting your boiler checked and serviced – get it done before the cold weather really sets in and all the tradesmen are inundated. Nothing worse than having to go a few days without heating when it’s freezing. Get your chimney swept too, as chimney fires are no joke and are very easily avoidable. Autumn and winter mean more leaves and mud falling into your drains. If your gutters and drains get blocked, you’re going to have leaks and damage to your home.”
“To really get winter ready, it is time to start clearing out the shed or attic now so that there is plenty of room to put all of the outdoor gear away neatly in the month ahead. While it is dry, now is the time to tackle the shed and get the boxes ready for packing up the summer stuff – bikes, swimming gear, etc – at the end of September.
“In houses that have draughty windows having curtains interlined with a fleece lining will make a huge difference to the warmth of the rooms over the cold winter months. Curtain makers or alteration shops can add interning easily without affecting the main curtains or undoing the existing pleats.
“If there is not adequate heat in the winter, an option could be to replace the extractor fan in the bathroom with an exhaust fan with heater. There is a super option available from Panasonic and, as the extractor and the electrics are already there to power the current extractor fan, it would be a simple process to switch.
“Now is also a great time to get all the blown bulbs around the house replaced with LED bulbs, which will give brighter light and longer life span for the bulb which will be needed on those dark winter nights.”
MD of onlinetradesmen.ie
on“Given the variants of weather we’ve had this year, from the big freeze to hot summers, there are a few things you can do to save your house from stresses. From a roofing perspective, we’ve had extreme heat where tiles will expand, and when it gets cooler they will contract. What we see is tiles cracking and getting moved around with high winds, and that could potentially mean a leak in the house. We saw after the storms and high winds last winter that roofers were in particularly high demand. If someone was being prudent, they might get someone to check the roof before any problems occur.
“Insulation is also a big problem, so it’s key to make sure things like pipes, especially old copper pipes, are properly insulated. If they expand quickly and freeze, you could get a blockage effect in them. If there is exposed piping in the garden, for example garden taps, it’s also important to put lagging on those as a pipe that freezes and bursts on the outside can travel up into a house.
“Cleaning gutters before winter is also a good idea. We don’t know what’s going to happen with the weather, but if you take the average autumn or winter, leaves will fall, winds will whip them up and you end up with more debris in your gutter. If it’s blocked, it could crack or break altogether.
“Winter’s also a great time to see how efficient your house is. It’s great to have all the latest gadgets and smart living, but if your house isn’t properly insulated, it’s like throwing water into a bucket with a hole in it. If you’re in a typical three-bedroom house, ensure there is lagging and insulation in the attic space, where most heat escapes.”
“Winter accessorising is of course the most fun and easy, unless you’ve an inbuilt aptitude for minimalism (which I struggle to believe can be an innate, preferred mode of styling/ living). For the rest of us, it’s time to decorate with soft textures and twinkling lights.
“It’s key not to just layer up and create clutter so first have a good tidy and declutter. Clear your surfaces to the minimum decorations and professionally clean inside and the windows. Clean windows makes a lot of rooms look redecorated. If you can, give sofas, rugs and curtains a dry-clean.
“October is one of the best months of the year for weather so approach your garden as you would your living areas as this is a great month to be outside. I actually have a rug and matching cushions, which can be used outside as well so I use them all the time and it’s not a disaster if they get wet. Thibaut has a huge range of water and sun resistant fabrics called Sunbrella, which I’d choose, even if they weren’t outdoor proof.
“You may not need to buy anything new this winter, and fairy lights – which come in all styles of bulbs these days – are the most transformative piece. All the high street shops sell gorgeous knit blankets and TKMaxx sometimes sells Le Creuset kitchenware so you can have smells of a cosy casserole wafting through the house.”
Interior designer, Interiors by Caroline
“Prepare for the cosy winter months ahead by having a seasonal clear out. Start by putting the summer clothes away and maybe even getting rid of anything which hasn’t been worn this year to make room for winter coats and jackets which tend to be considerably bulkier than summer wear. Summer duvets, blankets, cushions and even curtains in some cases should also be cleaned and put into storage. Don’t forget about all your lovely garden furniture – it’s time to clean and cover it up for the long winter months ahead so it will be good to go again next spring time.
“Get your kitchen ready for the preparation of delicious comforting winter warming dishes and drinks by putting the salad bowls and barbecue bits and bops away and dust off the casserole pots and fondue set. Rearrange your spice rack, putting warming spices to the front such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamon for delicious milky chai.”