As autumn slips into winter, now is the time to prepare for the short days and long nights ahead, to get cosy on the sofa. It is this time of year that the focus of our time as a family is spent in the living room. The clocks have gone back, Winter solstice falls on 22nd December, the shortest day. The sun will set just before 4pm. It’s those dark evenings, returning home as the light is gone. British winters; the rain beats on the pavement, leaves swirl round your feet caught by chill winds, and all you want to do it get home and get on the sofa.
My focus has very much switched to the living room and how I can organise furniture and lighting to make the most the room, ‘nesting’ it for the months a head. I’ve pulled together some ideas for ‘nesting’ the living room for winter.
It’s now that a lot people look at the possibility of new sofas, our living room will become the focus of family life for winter, the sofa is the spot where we will be spending a lot of time together. Corner sofas have great appeal, we can all can crowd together on one space. Then sofa beds make practical sense for Christmas visitors. A quality sofa will last for years. Wool covered sofas, velvety sofas or something stylish; distressed leather – it’s a piece of furniture that is the focus of the room for socialising and entertaining, celebrating and gathering as a family. Throws and cushions add texture and comfort.
A lamp can really change the feel of a room after dark, pools of light, softer light, reading lamps, all enhance how a living room looks and feels. It’s only as the evenings draw in that we appreciate the impact of good lighting. A contemporary floor lamp can update a room and create an area of focus and interest, as well as giving light to read those winter novel choices.
Small tables in a living room aren’t only practical, somewhere to put down a glass of wine or hot cup of tea away from marauding children, but they can also be put to use as styled surfaces, a jam jar wrapped with glittery ribbon, used to display holly leaves give a seasonal feel. A pile of old bound books from a second hand bookshop make interesting additions to small surfaces, glass ware glints under lamplight, small tables aren’t just practical.
There comes a point in the evening, when children are in bed, and the debris of the day is cleared away. To mark the shift to quieter child-free time, I like to light some candles. Candles change the atmosphere of a room, apart from a glow, a scent such as Frankincense or Rose are relaxing and evocative, perfect for dark nights and look great on a coffee table or small table.
Mirrors are so good for English winters, reflecting precious light back into a room over the months when daylight is at the minimum and any sunlight is at a premium. A beautiful mirror over a fire-place becomes a vocal point of light. Mirrors aren’t a permanent accessory, they can be tucked away in summer and replaced with wall art to change the feel of a room across the year without costly re-decorating.
Finally, for winter nesting I’m all about comfort food or what Nigella calls bowl food, food that can be eaten on the sofa. Bowls of pasta or gnoochi, noodles with warming Thai spices. My cookery books are out and I’m thinking fruit crumbles, dessert on the sofa is one of my favourite things. Makes winter more bearable.