As the weather begins to cool down, there are necessary preparations that we have to make for the winter. Of course, everyone’s preparations vary depending on where they live. If you happen to live in the south, you may not have to worry as much about sealing off your home and raising your home’s heat levels as we approach the holidays. But if you live in a colder part of the country, or at the very least a place that has four distinct seasons, you’ll likely have to transition your house into a different setting for the winter. There are plenty of practical benefits that come with taking the time to prepare your home for the winter. For one thing, you’ll be able to prevent the energy loss and issues with frozen pipes that often come with the wintertime when a home hasn’t been properly winterized. For another, there’s something about having a cozy home around the holidays that has a particular appeal. You’ll love settling in for the night even more than you usually do when it’s cold outside.
With that being said, a lot of people take a haphazard approach to preparing their home for the winter. The fact is that there’s a definite difference between really getting ahead of the wintertime and filling the gaps when issues arise. While it’s true that you may be lucky enough to avoid problems even if you don’t prepare your home, you’re better off getting ahead of them. The last thing you want is to be caught in a winter storm — and instead of a cozy home to hide away in, you’re stuck with a house with burst pipes and a broken thermostat. You should also think of this as an issue of safety. You and your family will be much safer during the winter if your home has been properly prepared. There’s something about having peace of mind and knowing that if the worst does happen and you’re snowed in for days on end, you won’t have anything to worry about. However, it’s not just about having a place to come home to that is safe and warm — it’s about being happy and offering a pleasant environment for those that visit for the holidays. That’s why we suggest that you take a strategic approach when preparing your home, and hit each step. Don’t leave anything to the last minute — because once the holidays kick in, you won’t have the time for much else!
The Practicalities: Ensuring That Your Home Runs Smoothly Throughout Winter
Let’s get safety out of the way first — after all, it’s hard to present your house as a cozy home if you’re dealing with ice or plumbing problems. Scarborough research estimates that about 53% of American homeowners have made home improvements over the last twelve months. While a lot of us expect things like moisture issues like to occur during the summer, when humidity is high and rainstorms are common, many forget that they’re also common during the winter. You should make preventing moisture penetration a priority when it snows. If moisture seeps into your home, it can not only erode the foundation but cause problems like mold and mildew — which could ultimately cause problems not only for the home but your health. Before it gets too cold for you to easily work on your home, you should inspect your siding and foundation. If your home hasn’t been inspected recently, you may want to work with professionals — and if there are any gaps in the siding or issues with the house’s foundation, have them taken care of before winter begins.
You may be reluctant to pay for these seemingly minor repairs — but if you don’t, you may end up losing more money in the long term. It’s easy for heat and energy to escape the home during the winter. Ultimately, this means that your house could overexert itself in leveling out its temperature, adding up to higher heating and energy costs in the long term. Of course, you may end up with even higher costs to worry about if your pipes freeze or burst. Pipes can freeze overnight, and pipe repairs are not inexpensive. This is one reason why you should stay on top of your home’s temperature, and make sure to check on your running water before going to sleep. Although it’s something of an old fashioned “fix”, some also like to leave one faucet dripping on particularly cold nights. However, you won’t want to make a habit of this, as it could ultimately end up costing you.
You’ll also want to make sure that your furnace has been checked before it gets too cold outside. When your family’s visiting for the winter, chances are that you’ll end up spending plenty of time outside, skiing and snowmobiling and making snowmen. The last thing you want is for your home’s furnace to fail when they come inside to get warm! Your furnace might need a repair without your realizing it — often, problems with furnaces only show themselves with the furnace actually has to exert itself. Be overcautious with furnace repairs; they’re much easier to do handle when it’s still warm outside. You wouldn’t want to worry about an emergency repair in the dead of winter. Of course, there’s a lot more to presenting a cozy home than just the inner workings. Yes, a house isn’t a cozy home in the winter without proper heating, and you need to be able to rely on the basics working when they should. But you’ll also want to pay attention to the general atmosphere that your home creates. That often lies in things like the furniture, the interior design, and the look of your house, as much as the way that it works.
Home For The Holidays: Readying Your Home For Family Visits
If there’s one thing you can rely on during the holidays, it’s family coming to visit. It doesn’t particularly matter why you have to host during the holidays; maybe you have the largest home in the family, or perhaps it’s simply your turn to host. No matter what, it can be a little nerve-wracking — especially if you’re settling in for a long, potentially harsh winter. Let’s say that you have all of the basic elements taken care of. How do you transform your safe, prepared house into a cozy home for your relatives? You’ll want everyone to enjoy their holidays, and really feel as if they’re truly comfy and happy — even if they end up snowed in. Ideally, everyone will be able to go out and about and enjoy the great outdoors rather than being cooped up indoors. But that isn’t always the case during the winter. You never know what kind of weather you’ll be up against!
Perhaps one of the biggest questions you may have is how you’re going to accommodate everyone. You may have a guest bedroom or two — if you have bunk beds in one room, you’ll have even more space to offer, and there’s always a trusty air mattress or two to fall back on. However, to keep everyone as comfy as possible in your cozy home, you may want to invest in a queen sleeper sofa. A queen sleeper sofa can easily be folded up and treated like a typical sofa when company isn’t in attendance. However, when family is visiting you can easily unfold it in the living room, allowing another pair of people to sleep comfortably. It’s certainly preferable to relying overmuch on air mattresses and sleeping bags. You’ll also want to stock up on pillows and blankets before your guests arrive — it’s better to have more than you need, versus leaving your guests literally in the cold when the time comes for them to visit.
With that being said, you don’t just need to worry about having enough room for your guests. You’ll also want to make sure that the general atmosphere is comfortable for them as well. As you prepare a cozy home for the holidays, you may notice that the winter air is somewhat dry. This is actually what leads to a lot of people suffering from sore throats and dry skin during the winter. Even if you don’t struggle with these types of ailments, your guests might — especially if they’re not used to the winter air. Try putting a humidifier in your guest bedrooms, as well as the living room. This will help prevent your guests from waking up with sore throats. You may also want to offer throat lozenges, as well as some dry skin cream. These are the types of extra touches that your guests will appreciate — and though they may not seem like much to you, they can make a big difference.
Creating A Cozy Home For The Holidays: The Finishing Touches
A cozy home for the holidays is not complete without a few final touches outdoors. After all — as important as the interior of your house certainly is, the exterior shouldn’t be discounted. For one thing, anything outdoors can potentially be damaged during extreme winter weather. If you have any outdoor furniture — whether it’s a patio set or a swing that you keep on your front porch — you should take steps to have it properly protected. After all, if that furniture is damaged during a deep freeze, you’ll have to pay to replace it! You’ll spend less by investing in the proper outdoor furniture covers. On that same note, you may want to go ahead and buy some salt for your driveway. That way, you won’t have to fret over the idea of your guests slipping on any patches of ice.
Another important aspect of creating the right outdoor experience around your home, of course, is investing in the right decorations. Even if you don’t want to get into the holiday lights competition that may be happening around your neighborhood, there’s nothing wrong with decorating your house for the holidays. String up a few lights here and there if you’d like — and if that seems like too much trouble, you may want to invest in one of the light projectors that are popular in this day and age. Holiday wreaths, as well as ribbons in the windows, can create a beautiful, picturesque atmosphere that won’t fail to impress. Of course, depending on the particular holidays that you like to celebrate, you may also want to buy some decorative figures for your yard as well.
Some aspects of decorating your home might be matters of personal taste. Maybe you’re the type of person who likes to decorate your mantel with holly and nutcrackers during the holiday season. Perhaps you prefer a more subtle take, choosing warm colors during the winter in order to create an inviting atmosphere for your cozy home. Ultimately, what makes a cozy home for the winter is really up to interpretation. Only you can know what you like — and you’re probably the most qualified to determine what your guests will like as well. But there are certain elements of a comfy winter home that are impossible to miss — and important to take care of well before winter sets in. Don’t be caught unawares, and don’t settle for a home that’s just barely ready for the winter. The better prepared you are, the more you’ll enjoy the winter with your family!
AUTHOR: CAROLINE SIBLEY
Caroline is a freelance content creator and creative writer. VCUArts alum with a focus on the arts, travel, and culture.