This transition time from Christmas to winter is a decorating challenge to many. After all the exuberance of Christmas, settling back into the routine, the everyday isn’t so appealing. But if you flip it over, there is something unique about the window of time between Christmas and Easter. Whether you live in an area where winter temperatures hover in the 60’s or the 30’s (raising my hand here), this section of time is an opportunity to live life a little bit differently. This post about Early Winter 2023 in our living and dining room includes some ideas about how to do so.
I like how Debra Oliver over at Common Ground phrases it:
Hello friends and Happy Weekend! For a few weeks in January we have a small bit of time that’s totally dedicated to warm, cozy, and comfy. After Christmas and before Valentines Day; it’s a time to relax in front ot the fire, read a good book, watch a movie, and curl up in a soft warm blanket… without a ton of shopping, big meals to cook or a deadline looming on the calender.
She talks about the time between Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Up here in NE Indiana, winter lasts pretty much through April, which for me just means more time for curling up and staying warm, cozy and comfy !
Part of living well in this period of time is creating an environment, a mood, a feeling of warmth, comfort and well-being. Cozy goes without saying, but it can’t be created in a void. There is a general consensus about how to go about doing this, but at the same time, there are a few schools of thought. One is the idea of leaving up some of the greenery from the holidays; the boughs and garlands of pine and evergreen, petite pine trees in containers, snowflakes and pine cones. (I really like this idea and am filing it away for next winter.) Another thought is the all-white approach, with the goal of visual calm after the riot of Christmas colors. Then there is the hygge philosophy of contentment with simple means. I also came across something called “Barbiecore” being trumpeted by Better Homes & Garden that seriously has me worried for people’s sanity. (Really? Are we going to paint our walls pink just because a “Barbie” movie is coming out?) And on top of all this, I recently received an email from Piper Classics (who I love and buy from!) with the headline: “Jump Start Your Spring Makeover!” Spring? Can we please just be in winter and stay in winter? Even for a little while?
This post is about my approach to enjoying and living well in winter. I am drawn towards darker colors at this time of the year. If you’ve read any of my previous Early Winter posts, you know that my go-to is pillow covers in a black floral pattern coupled with black & white buffalo check. This winter is no different, except for the fact that we are living in a new home. But I expanded my approach to using darker colors with an unexpected find.
For my Early Winter 2023 approach, the inspiration piece came (as it does nearly 100% of the time) from a thrift shop find in early November. I was flipping through a rack of window valances, runners, curtain panels and table cloths when this window valance jumped out at me. This is one of the most beautiful fabric prints I have ever seen. It’s a P. Kaufman fabric, and I seem to be coming across this fabric line quite a bit lately. (Move over, Waverly!) The contrast between the black background and color of the fruit is what totally drew me in. And pretty quickly I knew exactly how I would use it.
But first I have to back up a bit. Earlier in the fall, I stopped into our local Habitat for Humanity thrift shop for the first time. I took a quick spin through the store (Sailor was waiting oh-so-(not)-patiently for me in the parking lot), but what jumped out at me was a beautiful white soup tureen, sitting on top of a buffet. I picked it up and checked the bottom; the watermark was Limoges. I checked the price and it was a shocking $17. Not shocking in a good way; shocking in a “how can I begin to rationalize paying that price?” way. I went home and checked on eBay to get a reading. Some much fancier versions of the soup tureen sold for $100 or more. But some more simple ones were selling in the $25 range. Now, even more so, the $17 didn’t seem like a very good deal. But it was beautiful, it was in perfect shape, and it was Limoges (I have, love, and use my Grandmother’s Limoges china). Plus, I had been on the lookout for a soup tureen for a while. I’d love to say ‘Guess what?’, but I think you know exactly what happened.
Enter the window valance in that beautiful black fruit/floral print. To me they were as good as a matched set. My vision for this elegant partnership included a grouping of pears in the soup tureen. I do have a half dozen beautiful green pears that I bought at Pottery Barn years ago. But I wanted some color contrast to the pears. A visit to one of my favorite thrift shops yielded a floral basket display that was just plain weird in every way, BUT it had pears that leaned more golden-ish yellow; a nice counterpoint to my green PB pears. I paid the $4.99, threw out all the floral riff-raff, and rescued the pears. I almost threw out the basket too, but it has a nice unique look to it, and the bottom is stamped “Italy”. I lined it with a cloth napkin and put crackers in it for our Thanksgiving and Christmas entertaining.
So that, in a not-so-much-a-nutshell, is the story of how this Early Winter 2023 dining table vignette came about.
The black pillow ticking ‘runner’ on the china hutch is also a window valance from a thrift shop that was still in its original store packaging! It’s very well suited to the warm wood of the hutch. The silver tray and silver candleholders are from my 4-generation family collection of china and silver, but to keep it all from getting a little too formal, I added in 2 white pitchers with some greenery. In addition, I kept the half-burned candles from our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Just trying to keep things real!
The rest of the living room came together rather easily. As I mentioned above, I have used these black floral print pillow covers for years, as well as the black & white buffalo check pillow covers. When it’s classic, beautiful and you love it, you really never tire of it. These have become, over the years, my default for Early Winter.
Then, pulling from my inventory of baskets, white pitchers, candle holders, topiaries and greenery, and yes, roosters, I just accessorize around these foundation pieces. Simple, unfussy, comfortable.
Not sure why, but I seem to be really drawn to using dark colors in Early Winter. In the fall, we match the outside colors of nature on the inside of our homes with pumpkins, stems, and fall fruit. So maybe I use these dark colors as a harmonious counterpoint to the gray afternoons outside.
I hope that some of these thoughts and ideas are helpful. As I mentioned, there are a few different approaches that one can take. And, honestly, something as simple as a few pretty throws and battery operated candles could very easily move a room from so-so right into cozy. Target has some really nice throws at $20 (I have one in blue, gold and cream). If you can match a few to pillow cover colors, so much the better! You can hardly go into any craft store without stumbling over battery operated candles, both pillars and tapers. You don’t even need holders; you can put them in a pretty bowl or a vintage jar with a handful of dried beans or popcorn to hold them in place. A basket full of fruit, a little bit of greenery, faux or live, a bowl full of wine corks or shells set on a stack of books. There are so many ways to bring warmth, texture and cozy into a room you spend time in. It’s a gift to give yourself a home you can’t wait to come home to.
And a few historical winter posts (in case you can’t get enough of the buffalo check!):
From our home to yours~
I am sharing at these link parties:
The House on Silverado – Sundays on Silverado // Life with Linda – Love Your Creativity // My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia – Inspire Me Monday // Between Naps On The Porch – Monday Metamorphosis // Follow the Yellow Brick Home – All About Home // My Family Thyme – Tuesday Turn About // Eclectic Red Barn – Wonderful Wednesday // Karin’s Cottage – Pinky Party // Our Hopeful Home – Vintage Charm // French Ethereal – Share Your Style // Follow The Yellow Brick Home – Thursday Favorite Things // Country Road 407 – Farmhouse Friday // Vintage Home Designs – Fabulous Friday //