As the nights draw in and Christmas draws ever nearer tis the season to be inundated with house guests.
As a nation, we have admitted to spending £5 billion a year trying to create the perfect “hometel” to impress people who come to stay, and most of the wallet-dipping goes on in the weeks before Christmas.
But a sense of comfort and security is the biggest luxury of all right now, so why not forget the chocolates-on-pillows approach and just create a good old-fashioned cosy atmosphere where everyone, including you, can really feel at home?
Invest wisely and bringing out the blanket box and winter bulbs could become as warming a tradition as unwrapping the Christmas decorations.
The winter impulse is to dim the lights, but it often results in a flat, cold light. Instead look for lamps and lighting options which produce soft, warm light to give your room that cosy feeling.
Gentle greys and heather shades are the new neutral palette. These shades look just as serene and stylish as winter white, and are an ideal canvas for either minimalist white fairy lights or for shots of richer maroon, plum and tangerine.
There are tactile treasures aplenty in the shops at the moment – many with a crafty-knits vibe. Use different weights and weaves of fabric to animate a room, and play with contrasting textures to add instant depth, warmth and visual interest. A soft throw on the back of a sofa will instantly make a room cosier, not to mention being a handy, snugly layer in the living room.
Bringing a sense of the outdoors indoors makes you feel even more cosseted. The owl, fox and badger motifs running amok in home-furnishing departments would ordinarily make you run a mile, but “kitschmas” makes them oddly appealing.
Antlers say winter like nothing else: if you can’t brave reindeer cushions go for just a hint of the “baronial hunting lodge”, with a snifter of tweed or tartan on a chair.
Alpine-cabin chic is irresistibly wintry, too – think reclaimed timber furniture and wicker log carriers. Or go the whole hog and use a traditional wooden toboggan as a charming seasonal shoe rack or coffee table.