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Ginny Lawson: Five tips for a cozy winter home

Author: Ginny Lawson (BA’04)

Posted on Oct 26, 2020

Category: Insights

Interior designer and UNB alumna Ginny Lawson (BA’04) of Virginia Ann Interiors has a passion for design and for nature. Inspired by the rich history and architecture of her hometown of Saint John, Ginny later started her own business in Halifax, NS, designing beautiful spaces. Here she shares her top tips for decorating your home in preparation for winter, now that we’ll be spending more time inside.


Home Sweet Home. This expression was created by someone who was never confined to their home during a mandatory lockdown. In the past year, many of us have spent far more time than usual in our homes, making us acutely aware of our surroundings. A few people wouldn’t change a thing in their home, while others have found themselves deep into renovations; most people live in the middle and can’t quite put their finger on what’s missing. Quite often, what’s missing is that cozy “homey” feeling.

With the colder months quickly approaching, and our battle against COVID-19 still lingering, cozying up your haven will have a big impact on your lifestyle - and it’s not as difficult (or costly) as you might think.

1. Add colour 

I love a crisp white wall as much as the next designer, but when the outdoors is covered in a white blanket and we want to feel cozy and warm indoors, the white walls just don’t deliver.  In times of chaos and unrest, mother nature always knows exactly how to bring us back to our zen: think vivid sunsets, crystal beaches, or colourful forests. Bringing some of these hues inside has an immediate effect on our mood, changing the way we feel about being inside. 

Many cozy paint colours have brown undertones but this doesn’t have to be the case when choosing your perfect colour. Blues and mineral tones like dusty pink are just as much a part of our landscape as brown and greens. Choosing a richer hue with a bit of moodiness can wrap you in a warm, restful feeling.

 2. Ambiance lighting

Now that we have covered our walls with a warm hug, we want the lighting to compliment that feeling. Newer homes (houses, condos and apartments alike) have been flooded with pot lights, giving us great lighting for everyday activities but lacking the warmth and ambiance we crave during colder nights. Adding a dimmer switch to any overhead lights you already have is a great way to achieve this without finding a space for new lighting.  However, if you have a side board or accent table with an empty space, a lamp or two would be ideal to generate that comfortable cozy feel. 

If you don’t feel like playing around with your switches and don’t have room for a lamp, candlelight is a perfect option. On a cold, dark winter night, candlelight is my ambiance lighting of choice! Just don’t forget to keep the flame clear of any flammable object and snuff them out before you fall asleep in your cozy home.

 3. Layers

 Blankets and cushions and textures - oh my! Adding any (or all) of these to your living space will take you from minimal cool to cozy comfort with very little effort. When choosing your layers, find ones that compliment your living space vibe, so that it doesn’t seem like an after thought. You want to have pieces that are soft to the touch that make you want to snuggle in. When it comes to a room like the bedroom, choose muted tones of cream, soft grey and blues. These are ideal colours for creating a feeling of calm and relaxation as you unwind from your day. 

I always love having a soft spun wool blanket draped over the arm of my sofa during the winter. That way it is always there to wrap around me when the cool chill sets in. I recommend going for natural fibres as they are great insulators and tend to breathe better. 

 4. Organize and purge

 So far, I’ve discussed what can be added to your space, but now let’s turn to what can be taken away. Get rid of home clutter so it doesn’t become mental clutter. If you haven’t already, fire up Netflix and and watch the series “Home Edit”. Although this is organization on steroids, it gives some good insight into how to organize what you already have. Spending more time inside means being more aware of the items you own and how they fit into your life. Take some time to get rid of things you haven’t used in a while and organize the items you already own. It may seem like a daunting task but in the end, that newfound space will make your home an easier place to feel rested and calm.

 5. Create zones

Our living quarters are wearing many hats these days, which can quickly create chaos and unrest in your home. You can avoid this by having designated areas for different jobs. This is easier said than done in some spaces, but look around for a corner or nook that currently sits vacant and give it a purpose. Place a small decorative table that can double as a desk or reshuffle a closet to house a small desk space while still providing storage. For your gym, have a nice basket in the corner somewhere where your dumbbells, bands, yoga mats, and whatever else you might have for your workout, can live pretty. Most importantly, have somewhere you can go to unwind where you don’t do any of the day-to-day mundane tasks.  

Although most of us crave a certain amount of coziness (especially in a time with so much uncertainty,) there is plenty of ability within these tips to make your home uniquely you. As a designer, I have done my job well when I’ve been able to reflect the client’s personality into their home. When adding colour, texture or lighting to your home, be sure you like it. After all, this is your space and it’s all about maximizing enjoyment alongside functionality. Here’s to making the best of things!