Adapting to the Season: Winter Inside/Out By Mike Spry
The fall leaves have wished their host trees farewell, completed their journeys from hopeful bud to burgeoning and bursts of chartreuse to wistful whispering reds and fuchsias to fluttering embers of memory and back to the earth. The cycle continues, unabated and unchanged, as the calendar crests unavoidably to the year’s final season.
IT’S COMING. Or maybe it’s already here. Winter. The season of darkness. The playground of short days and sub-zero temperatures. The year’s final act before the promise of something new. Our buckets of salt are full and our shovels are new. Our fireplaces cleaned and our chimneys are swept. Our snow tires are on and our parkas and toques have been retrieved from long forgotten boxes in basement storage. We’re ready.
Or are we? There is perhaps no region that oscillates so drastically between climates like Southern Ontario. From the cleansing rains of spring to the sweltering humidity of 40˚C summer days to the crisp snap of autumn to the desperate cold of -30˚C winter, the Golden Horseshoe and the Greater Toronto Area are a universe unto their own. And within the context of that vacillation is the manner in which we adapt and attend to the aesthetic of our homes.
Nothing drives us inside like winter. The days are short, the nights are long, the snow is unrelenting, and the cold is unimaginable. And once we’re inside we’re hesitant to leave. And why would we? Winter’s reclusion is one if its great joys. The warmth of the fire filling every room, every floor; the gentle twinkle of yuletide cheer and choir; and the beautiful cacophony of gathered friends and family are the very reason we indulge in our houses. It’s what makes them homes, surrounding ourselves with that which we love, to share in our good fortune, to luxuriate in the essence of our accomplishment.
But winter demands more than simply lighting the fire, pouring eggnog and throwing on some Bing Crosby. Our luxury homesteads demand that we adapt to the season in order to inform the very purpose of the home itself: To comfort, to entertain, to share. To offer warmth and shelter and mirth. But where to begin? How do we best reflect the fierce realities of winter in accommodating our homes’ aesthetics?
The best way to adapt our homes to winter is to consult those who have been counselling luxury home owners on decor for many seasons.
LAVISH INTERIORS OF OAKVILLE is “a different kind of company” and one that celebrates “sophisticated design and rich architecture.” Lavish’s Suzi Kaloti is an expert in home design and decor and has her pulse on what’s hot and trending now for warming up your home for winter. Suzy notes that the living room and kitchen are where most families gather and are by far the most utilized gathering rooms in our home. During the winter, these rooms’ enjoyment increases exponentially and we gather around kitchen tables, fireplaces, TVs, and stereos to celebrate the holiday season. Suzi also points out that a tasteful addition of fall colours to a winter setting—like burnt orange, mustard yellow, and ruby reds—gives these family room a seasonal lift of warmth and appeal.
But Suzi takes time to remind us, and Lavish’s clientele, that accessorizing isn’t the limit of adaptation. “Try rearranging your furniture. Pull furniture away from the walls and closer to the middle of the room! It will create the perfect environment for everyone to be cozy around the fireplace while still being able to place down your hot green tea mugs between sips! Bring out extra throws and pillows for added comfort. We make all of our design clients two sets of seasonal throws and pillows that not only correlate with the temperature outside but also give their home a whole new makeover with minimal effort!”
Do you want to take it all a step further, to not just adapt your aesthetic for winter but define it? “For those that are looking to go the extra mile, wooden furniture and especially darker wood really adds warmth for the season!” adds Suzi, drawing on over a decade’s experience in home design. “Many of my contemporary home owners put away their glass or metal dining tables because nothing feels worse than chilled elbows around the dinner table! Mixin’ some bold fabric patterns for table throws and fluffy textures for visual interest and you have the perfect setup for those holiday seven-course family meals!”
There’s a tendency in design to remain static in winter’s absence of colour. But Suzi reminds us (and her upscale clientele) that winter whites can inform a room just as much as the vibrant and robust colours that inspire other seasons’ decors.
“For those of us that are not really crazy about the seasonal reds and browns, winter whites [are now] a thing! The rules are that it has to be a solid white colour, the more fluffy the better, and wool tends to be a smash hit every time for a choice of material. Imagine a fluffy white shag rug or a white large knit wool throw on your sofa or love seat… Let the hibernation begin!”
But the visual aesthetic of your home is simply not enough. Winter may lack the volume and array of scents that define other months, but, “Winterizing your home is not complete without the proper olfactory sensory experience! Do your homework, pick out some fall winter scents that complement the look and feel you’re going for. I find this very personal in nature, and there are many products out there that are marketed as long lasting winter scents.” Suzy believes that the safest bets for teasing your guests’ sense of the aromatic and complimenting your holiday gatherings include fresh baked bread, pine, cocoa and peppermint, and a boisterous fire filling your fireplace and your home.
To further adapt your home and to revel in the opulence of the season, one should fill their home with elements of nature to both inform your aesthetic and contrast the winter heavens on the other side of your door.
SHERIDAN NURSERIES has been providing Southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area with all of its gardening, planting, and seasonal needs for over a hundred years! The family owned and operated operation is renowned for its green practices and estimable contributions to homes and businesses throughout the region. No one is better suited to beautify your home with nature for the winter. Sheridan offers centrepieces, mantel displays, garlands, and more. Your yuletide needs will be forever tended to with everlasting Christmas trees. The unique design of the Versatree can be set up as a 5’, 7’ or 9’ tree depending on your needs from year to year! For purists, there are innumerable Christmas tree options, plus self-watering planters – especially important for winter holiday care. Want more vegetation than Santa’s season demands? Succulents and air plants continue to be a hot (cool?) trend, bringing life and nature into your home, even as the chill numbs what’s left of it outside.
As the trend towards greening our homes and offices continues to build momentum, Sheridan Nurseries offers a personal shopper at-home consultation service for indoor greenery, houseplants, and containers (now through to the end of February). Plants help clean the air by removing toxins from it and can make breathing easier as green plants provide more oxygen, not to mention a sense of calm. And what’s more enticing for the stresses of family holidays, Christmas shopping, and winter storms, than natural harmony from nature itself?
Much like Sheridan Nurseries,
SWISS INTERIORS is a Ontarian institution. For over half a century, the Oakville landmark has furnished homes all over the province, and “boasts mostly Canadian-made furniture. The store carries recognizable top brand names showcasing both traditional and transitional styles” and features an in-house design team. Winter is, perhaps more than any other season, a time for hosting and the experts at Swiss Interiors suggest that with the holidays coming people tend to update their dining table and chairs for get togethers. There’s no better place to look for elegant, functional and seasonal decor like Swiss Interiors. “On a smaller scale, [they] also carry lots of lamps to brighten up darker winter evenings and/or pillows and throws to change the decor and keep us warm!”
And therein lies the essence of winter. Staying warm. But not just by way of insulating us from the outdoors, but insulating us from the esoteric dangers of the cold and darkness that accompany the season. The same way we wrap ourselves in blankets and embrace, we need to wrap ourselves in the beauty of our home. By adapting our homes’ indoor aesthetic to the demands of the season we ensure ourselves of survival. Professionals like Lavish Interiors, Swiss Interiors, and Sheridan Nurseries can take our winter dreamscape and make it a reality, outfitting and accessorizing our homes in style, sophistication, and even scent! Don’t retreat into winter. Use your home to celebrate it.
The changing of seasons is an absolute, an inevitability, a certainty in uncertain times. Outside, the leaves have morphed from green to red to chrome to grey, and then to ground, and then to dust. The days are shorter. Summer is but a fleeting memory, a distant dream of endless days. Autumn, despite our best intentions, has fallen desperately towards winter, the winter stars shimmering brilliance but the only light leading us hopefully back towards spring.
The winter season is our most challenging, not because of its drastically falling temperature or the pressure of holidays and family. No, the wintertide is our most imposing season because of the manner in which we must acclimatize and integrate our homes for the busiest time of the year. Not only must we decorate trees, tame our lighting, and comply with traditions of, but we need to alter our homesteads to accommodate our aesthetic.
There are many questions to ask yourself as you prepare your home for winter. Have you protected your vegetation and plants from the elements? Have you turned off the exterior faucets? Drained the pool? Checked the roof? Cleaned out the eavestrough? But these are the practical commitments, an itemization of obligation and responsibility. What your home’s winter needs goes beyond chores. Often we see winter as a reprieve from the duty of outdoor scutwork, but the coldest season requires the same love and attention that summers demand.
We often forget about the functional parts of our home, sturdy and reliable so as to forgo concern. Winter is particularly hard on our garage doors, as we constantly come in and out for shovels and snow blowers, toboggans and skis, salt and safe haven.
OVERHEAD DOOR in Burlington has been servicing Southern Ontario’s garage door needs since 1985, and features the very best in garage doors in terms of style, efficiency, and efficacy. Overhead Door’s Chief Financial Officer Gordon Schmidt reminds us that, “It’s a good idea to make sure your door systems are properly serviced to ensure reliability through the season. Proper weather seal is at least as important as R-value [the capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow]; R-value is meaningless without a good seal, which will maintain the integrity of R-value and perhaps more importantly, keep Mother Nature on her side of the garage. When it comes to buying an insulated garage door – structure, installation and insulation package (ie. weather seal package) are all significant factors!”
Around the neighbourhood, everyone is adjusting to winter, adapting their homes to the season. Lights are being hung, decorations strewn, hedges covered, and lanes salted. But those are the simple adaptation, ones born of tradition or necessity. How does the upscale luxury homeowner breath in the essence of winter, and have their home exhale the distillate of seasonal perfection?
The contemporary winter home must eschew the traditions of Christmas Vacation clichО and the bright, bold bravado of that tired aesthetic. Today’s winter homes must be a representation of both what’s inside and what’s out, the embodiment of what your home and life exemplify: style, sophistication, and class. We can’t take a luxury home and dress it up in dime store apparel. The winter version of your home must be clothed in the finest fashions of the day.
As winter arrives so too do our needs for a refreshed and exquisite decor for our homesteads. It is important that our homes’ aesthetics adapt to seasons, that we best situate our dwellings within the context of the equinox’s shift towards longer nights, snowfall, barren trees, street light luminescence, and muted tones. Outdoor lighting can relieve winter gloom and accentuate your home’s flair and focus. You should choose a colour scheme that compliments your home (inside and out), your garden, and your neighbourhood.
Though memories of our fathers’ hanging precariously from ladders, stringing lights and decoration dance our collective memories, ours is the time where we require informed experts to outfit our homes for winter. This is not the era of your parents’ hardware store Christmas lights and plastic Santa. Today’s luxury homeowner needs the benefit and counsel of professionals, and no one in Southern Ontario knows home decor (inside and out) like SHERIDAN NURSERIES.
The custom design service will take care of your outdoor decor with door swags, wreaths, garlands, custom container designs, Christmas trees, and more. Sheridan has all your luminant needs taken care of, with indoor and outdoor fairy lights, with battery operated and timer options available. They also offer unique outdoor branching for container designs, including both everlasting and fresh branches in the same designs.
Sheridan Nurseries Vice President, Marketing and Purchasing, Valerie Stensson says, “Similar to our at-home consultation service for outdoor living patios and Christmas dОcor, we have seen a need to help the consumer ‘green’ their homes and offices. Stensson also mentioned there has been a sharp increase in requests for design expertise to refresh outdoor container designs following the holidays, so even though your tree is down and your in-laws have left, the need for professional design remains. Sheridan’s staff is second-to-none and their personal shopper at-home consultation service is a must-have for those who aspire to perfectly accentuate their winter home’s aesthetic.
One of the most wonderful aspects of living in Southern Ontario is our temperate winters. We are blessed with both snowfall and reasonable temperatures. So while there’s nothing quite as winter as gathering around the fireplace, cozying up to loved ones, warming ourselves with our favourite cocktails and carols, why keep the fire inside? Outdoor fireplaces are essential additions to the luxuries of winter living. And we’re not talking about digging a hole in the snow and dropping in a few logs and some lighter fluid. Outdoor fireplaces give a new life to your home’s winter aesthetic, and provide a whole new realm to entertain and impress the neighbours. This alfresco focal point is the perfect way to engage with winter’s most beautiful days and revel in its most pleasant nights. While portable outdoor fixtures are a lovely augmentation of your yard, a permanent outdoor fireplace is a year-round investment in luxury and an informed adaptation of your outdoor space. Whether you choose stone, stucco, tile, metal, or brick, what’s most important is that it matches your aesthetic and makes the neighbours jealous.
No outdoor decor is complete without the postcard aesthetic of Canadiana, and what more Canadian than a skating rink? The next Hayley Wickenheiser or Connor McDavid or Joannie Rochette or Clara Hughes could take their first wobbled steps in your backyard, the dream of every young kid in Burlington and Hamilton, Brantford and Dundas, to achieve greatness on ice. But we’re long past the days of simply letting the hose run wild the eve of the first freeze. Backyard rinks have become not only a big business, but a sign of status and luxury, the pinnacle of keeping up with the Joneses in 21st century Southern Ontario.
Essentially there are three kinds of outdoor rinks: traditional (the aforementioned running hose), lined rinks (facilitated by dropping a tarp on your desired rink space before freezing and snowfall), and refrigerated rinks. The latter is likely your rink of choice, given the unpredictable Southern Ontario winters. This luxury rink option is the envy of every backyard from Windsor to Ottawa, and provides the very best (and safest) surface for winter blades. But why stop with ice? Lines and boards outfit your rink to create a Utopian dreamscape (skate?). Lighting and netting provide safety and late night games. Why not add benches and a press box? Maybe a small concession stand? Falling temperatures are no reason to stay inside, and certainly no reason to cook inside. Winter grilling is as Canadian as the rink, as long as you’re smart and safe with your barbecue. Your January tailgate will complete the ultimate and elegant backyard rink experience.
As Canadians, we are born into winter’s beauty. We revel in the shimmering glow of sunlight skipping off of the newly fallen snow, the sounds of children frolicking in forts, the imagined jingle of sleigh bells on rooftops. There is a tendency to retreat inside during these months, to wrap ourselves in the comfort of boastful fires and eggnog. There is a tendency to let the outside lie still in the darkness of the earth’s axis pulling away from the sun, to allow that darkness to penetrate our homes’ aesthetics, to relent and permit the elements to provide definition. But with the help of some inspiration, some investment, and some help from professionals like Sheridan Nurseries and Overhead Door Burlington, we can transform our homes into winter stars of their own.