Get Your Home Ready for Winter
Rising household costs and cold snaps got you thinking twice about setting foot outside? Creating comfy relaxation zones in a bedroom with a cumbersome at first glance primo memory foam mattresses, or dining room with its sets and cabinets is possible.
The home cinema
‘A room designed exclusively to cater for a family’s entertainment requirements is the ultimate lifestyle experience for any family,’ says Frank Riester from Cinemania (www.cinemania.co.za), a Cape Town company specializing in the design and installation of home cinemas.
Most households’ home theatre systems are usually only used to watch movies and listen to music. A home cinema can be so much more: not only does it form the core of the family’s communal activities, but it also offers endless gaming possibilities (PlayStation, Wii or big screen online games). It can also become a multichannel music room; karaoke center or perfect for viewing home recordings with friends. Now, isn’t that just so much better than your average mall cinema?
Your own library
Do you love curling up under a blanket with a good book? Creating a reading nook in your home may not be as difficult as you think. According to Bianca Groenevelt from Alexandra Pama Interior Design, your own library can be a calm haven in your own home. All you need is a bookshelf and a comfortable easy chair or sofa, depending on the space available and whether you prefer to sit or lie down to read. You can choose between floating shelves, a freestanding bookshelf, or shelves in interesting designs as a focal point. Use beautiful fabric for the furniture, cushions and window dressing. Soft lighting, such as a table or standing lamp, works well – while books lend color and texture to the room.
An instant reading nook
Wood has a warmer effect on a room than, for instance, metal, so opt for wooden shelving. Try to avoid bright colors and distractions, as these should be quiet surroundings which induce serenity. There is no right or wrong color scheme for a library, but neutral colors are a good start; try earthy colors with accents of pink or red. For a slightly fresher feel, use white with splashes of green, blue-green and blue in soft hues. Good lighting is key to a pleasant reading experience: more than one light is recommended, and dimmer switches help create a visual balance and regulate the light when necessary. The reading light should not be too sharp but provide a soft light. Create personality by hanging photographs of yourself and your loved ones in the room, and place ornaments of sentimental value between the books. This is also the ideal place to show off your achievements.
Food is one of the comforts we turn to in winter – go one better and create an intimate space and enjoy a gourmet meal in the comfort of your home. You won’t have to brave the cold and rain to pay a small fortune for a plate of food; simply set up your own restaurant at home – all you need is a table, some chairs and a pinch of imagination, says Johané van Schalkwyk, Home’s assistant food editor. First, decide on a theme, then work around that: do you love Indian restaurants, Chinese take-aways – or do you prefer the simplicity of a one-pot meal?
A small table is convenient, as it can be moved around according to your needs. Imagine an intimate dinner for two in front of the fire or a relaxed cup of tea with a friend in a cozy kitchen.
Two chairs without armrests are very handy, as they don’t take up much space. If you don’t have upholstered chairs, add some gorgeous cushions for extra warmth.
Remember, the emphasis is on accessories, so use your best tablecloth and linen napkins to make it special. Liberate those fancy plates you couldn’t bear to unpack after buying it and immerse yourself in sheer luxury.
Use your best crystal glasses and subtle candlelight to add to the atmosphere. And as a warm welcome, enjoy a glass of sherry before taking your seats, to whet the appetite.
Escape to your music room
‘Before going to the doctor, I’d rather pay a visit to my music room, because music is better than the best medicine,’ says Wolfgang Heuer, owner of Musikhaus in Stellenbosch, the oldest music shop in the country. Are you one of the lucky few to have inherited a piano, but are not always sure what to do with it? Well, create a musical corner in your home and dedicate it entirely to the wonder of sound.
Make sure that the piano stands firmly on a level surface. If you don’t want to damage wall to wall carpets, purchase some special saucers from a music shop to place under its feet.
If you have a grand piano, place it so that when the lid has been opened, the opening faces the interior of the room and not the wall – so as to spread sound evenly in the room.
A knotty pine ceiling is ideal for good acoustics. If you light a fire in the fireplace or use a heater, ensure that the heat is not directed at the piano, but elsewhere in the room, as pianos are very sensitive to temperature fluctuations and humidity. The room temperature should always be between 16oC and 24oC and the humidity not above 58.
Never place a piano against an exterior wall, as the repetition of the key mechanism will cause it to start tightening, making the piano sound false. Also, never place a piano between a window and a door, as the slightest draft or misty breeze will also cause the keys to stiffen. The best position for a music ‘corner’ is the center of a room or against an interior wall.
Don’t feel like heading out to the office on a rainy Saturday morning just to do an hour’s work or to check your email? Without too much effort, you can create your own study or workspace at home. According to interior designer Elize Labuschagne, it’s important to only use one designated area in your home for work – otherwise, the whole house eventually turns into an office. Workspace and home function separately and should ideally be kept that way – and if you stick to your specific work area, it doesn’t really feel as if you’re bringing work home.
An office or study can really be fitted anywhere in the home – except the bedroom. Get a desk or a table that faces away from the rest of the room – either facing a window or against a wall, so that you sit with your back towards the rest of the living space; this way you can isolate yourself from all the other activity. Depending on the amount of time you are likely to spend there, a comfortable chair is almost essential.
Lighting is also very important – natural light from a window is best; otherwise, get a work lamp that is both simple and unobtrusive.
Ensure enough packing space with attractive containers and tins in which to store stationary or materials, so that your space doesn’t resemble an office or workshop too closely.
Photographs of your family or friends will also make this area more sociable. A striking screen separates the work area from the rest of the room, without sacrificing light.
Solitude in your own spa
Your home is your refuge from the hustle and bustle of the outside world; a place where you can retreat to and relax. And what could be more of a special treat than a home spa?
‘A home spa is convenient and can also be very cost effective,’ says Zireena Osman, owner of Spa Patchouli in Rondebosch. If you have a bath or a shower, you’re already halfway there, and if you have both, even better. If your budget allows, purchase a jacuzzi which can give you a good massage and improve circulation. A showerhead with massage functions can also be very handy for home treatments. And don’t forget about home lifehacks.