The UK and the USA are two nations divided by a common language. You say potato, I say spud, and let’s not get into boots vs trunks, pavements as against sidewalks and nappies or diapers. Getting into any of those would be dangerous, silly and probably impossible.
One of the American language’s most endearing traits is the ability to verb anything, by which I mean take a noun and make it into a verb form. Colorize being the one I can think of now. And ‘winterize’ comes into this category. In the UK we never used to use it, but it’s becoming acceptable by all but the die hard language purists. Meaning ‘To prepare one’s house for Winter’, it’s actually a useful word to know, and even better if you know how to do it.
This wonderful article on Art of Manliness explains how to Winterize your home in 15 easy ways and, indeed, these are all excellent suggestions. Time spent checking your furnace/chimney/central heating lagging is never time wasted. Likewise, a good look at the trees around the house helps to avoid problems later on.
But it’s not exactly….. well, sexy… is it? It’s not what your average woman would consider winterizing the home. Perhaps we should make the difference in meaning between house and home clear here. The practical side of preparing a place against draughts, snow, disaster needs to be done…. but I’d really rather winterize my home in my way. Here are my 15 steps to making your home winter-hygge ready.
- Swap your throws from light summer to warm winter. Swap the colours as well. I love a good cream cotton throw in the heat, but when the first wind swirls around my chimney, I grab my reds and teals and navy coloured blankets. I love me a good crocheted throw, so I am never without a pile in various sizes and colours.
- Get the fairy lights out every where inside. You know you’ll be getting them out in December anyway, so why not get the benefit now? I have fairy lights strung all along my dresser front, and I light them most evenings. It just adds an extra layer of light to the dining area, kitchen or bathroom.
- Check your windows and doors for draughts. Seriously, nothing kills hygge like a sharp wind blowing down your neck. Plug any gaps, use an extra layer of glazing, get hold of thicker curtains for the winter: it doesn’t really matter, as long as you can get your home draught-free to enjoy the mood.
- Keep the heating on constantly on low. It’s not as cost effective, perhaps, but it keeps the house ready for use. It also means that when you do turn the heating up high it takes less time to heat the room up.
- Or invest in warm lounge wear. It’s more cost-effective to turn off the heating, but you’re going to need a good thick jumper, fleecy leggings and fingerless gloves. Oh, and a set of thermals won’t go amiss. My family are quite little hotbods, so we end up turning the heating low most of the time. I have cold hands, so I wear fingerless gloves and look like Scrooge ready to count the coins. My daughter is quite happily looking forward to proper cold weather, since I found her a fleecy Owl Hoodie and leggings. Roll on January!
- Get good at closing doors. If there are any unused rooms in your house, or you don’t believe in heating bedrooms (are you related to my husband?) then keeping the colder rooms closed off can help keep the heat where you want it.
- Indulge your inner Spa Princess with a hot bubble bath, and then leave the plug in. Seriously, I would never have believed this worked, but it does. Have the long bath, but then when you get out leave the door open and the warm water in to add a little extra heat to the house.
- Make sure you have your recovery kit ready. Winter is the season for chills and aches, so have hot lemon drinks, paracetamol, throat lozenges and cough syrup in a kit in the kitchen ready when needed. Or to preempt a cold, try echinacea and vitamin C.
- Have your entertainment ready. The months from now until December are a whirl of crafting presents ready for Christmas, but I like having a project lined up for after Christmas, when I’m free to craft just for me. This year, I’m having a real push at finishing the Mystical Lanterns bedspread I have dreamed of for my bedroom for a while now. I also have a good selection of winter-themed books to read when the nights draw in.
- Change the ambient scent of the house. I’m not a big user of scented candles, as in I don’t light them much, but I do like leaving the top off so that the scent travels. In winter I choose spicy scents like vanilla, cinnamon or sandalwood. My candles of choice at the moment are by the Lollyrocket Candle Co. I love that you can choose your own writing for the front of the jar, so I have a Pumpkin Pie candle inside a jar that says “Home is Where the Hygge is”. Again, I have never been sent any promotional products by Lollyrocket, I bought the candles myself and I love them.
- Do I need to say get the lighting right inside and out? You know that a bright overhead light will kill the hygge in a room quicker than anything. That’s why discos in my youth used to turn the lights full on at the end of a party, as a way of saying go home. Get your lamps out, arrange for wall lights with dimmer switches, or light a selection of candles. However you do it, pools of soft light will always seem warmer.
- Don’t forget the outside light as well. Our wall lamps outside the house are broken and need replacing, so I make sure to leave the light on in the downstairs loo. I painted the walls a rich velvet red earlier this year, and I think the light reflected back off the red wall and out into the darkness is one of the most welcoming things I know. Get an outside lamp fitted by the door, or use a lantern filled with (again) fairy lights on a solar switch. So hyggely to come home to.
- Use the oven, or use a slow cooker. I change my meals out in the wintertime. I love easy stews that I shove in the slow cooker and leave for the day, or a big pot of soup on the hob. I also love roasts, like a rolled shoulder of pork, that you leave on a low light in the oven for hours. Not only do you get a meal that you haven’t had to stand over, but you get the scent of the food and the warmth of the cooking as well!
- Get outside. How will that winterize your home? Well, it follows the same basic principle as having a cold dip during a sauna. The contrast between cold and heat will make the house seem warmer in a way that sitting in a warm house all day doesn’t. Not to mention that if you go outside for a walk you’ll get the benefit of exercise as well. Sometimes we only realise how much we love our homes when we are far away from them.
- I can’t think of a 15. Perhaps I should just say “Buy a copy of my book, Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas.” and be done with it. Seriously, look around your home, and decide what you think you need for winter. You might have the hankering to change every cushion in the house, to put up a winter-themed picture over the fireplace, to create a hot drinks station next to the kettle, or an alcoholic drinks bar on a windowsill or side table. You’re looking for something that will make your life cosier and happier in the months ahead. Hold a book club in your living room, find a choir to go out to. Buy a jigsaw. Whatever you do, tell me about it either in the comments below, or leave a comment on my social media. I am on Facebook and Instagram.
And my books are all available from Amazon in paperback and ebook version. I keep rereading the Christmas book and thinking of things I should have put in. Either there will have to be a second edition, or this time next year I’ll have another Christmas book out. If you’d like to read the reviews on them, or to buy them as a gift for everybody in your immediate family as I intend to do this year, I’d be ever so grateful. Just click through the links below.