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Winter warmup: Five ways to enliven home decor during the chillier months

01/18/2013 01:17 EST | Updated 03/20/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - The holiday decorations have been shelved for another year and the warmth of spring — and the habitual house cleaning that follows — is still months away.

Welcome to the mid-winter lull.

As the temperatures nosedive, so too can the motivation of many to overhaul their interiors. Or perhaps they simply don't have the cash or hours needed to give their home a major facelift.

Still, there are options for those looking to make subtle changes to help enliven their spaces — and won't drain tons of time in the process.

Here are five ways to warm up your home decor during the winter.

1. Textiles. No need to rely solely on a fresh coat of paint or wall coverings to inject some sorely needed colour into your surroundings. The addition of textiles drenched in bright or bold hues can quickly add pop to a staid space.

"It's a pretty affordable solution, so one of the ways you could do that is maybe by changing out your pillows on your sofa to something that's vibrant either in colour or in pattern," says Ikea Canada spokeswoman Alicia Zoffranieri.

For those unsure of which new hues to try, Zoffranieri suggests considering turquoise, lilac or emerald — Pantone's colour of the year — as an accent.

Seeking a colourful alternative that doesn't involve pillows? Consider opting for a new sofa slipcover, bed linens, rugs or even shower curtains, says Zoffranieri.

Shannon Acheson typically adds in a blue throw for her son's room and purple and pink variations for her daughters. Whether in cable knit, cashmere or velvet, layers of the snug coverings along with pillows help add texture and colour, she notes.

"That's going to be cosy and ... just perk it up a bit between holiday and spring," says Acheson who partners with her husband Dean on AKA Design, a Canadian home and DIY blog.

2. Lights. Illuminating interiors can be a beautiful thing. Whether selecting a removable shade for an existing base or a standalone lamp with a unique structural design, the right lights can lend a touch of elegance to a room or help round out an existing space.

"Lamps are very affordable, a very simple solution to give your home that more vibrant feel," says Zoffranieri.

Use the existing colours in the room as a guide for which — and how many — brightly hued lamps to bring into the interior, she notes. If it's fairly plain and absent of a lot of colour, consider teaming lamps in two complimentary hues, like lilac and green, she adds.

3. Plants. Individuals yearning to flex their green thumbs still have some time to wait before they can start digging into the soil outside. But gardening and enthusiasts and neophytes alike can get their fix by bringing in an assortment of fresh plants.

"It will add life to the home," says Zoffranieri. "Especially after the holiday season if you do celebrate Christmas, you probably have a hole where your Christmas tree was."

Zoffranieri says if there is a "hot list" for plants, the fiddle-leaf fig plant would rank among them. The lush, large-leafed, slow-growing plant can stretch to be six feet tall, she notes.

"It grows towards the light. If you want to make sure it keeps growing straight up, you have to make sure you rotate it. Otherwise, it's almost like a vine, it will keep growing and kind of snaking around," she says.

"It's beautiful. It's a really nice plant."

4. Do-it-yourself. Even those who aren't the most DIY-inclined can try their hand at a simple craft project. On her blog, akadesign.ca, Acheson outlines one such task she says is easy enough to do with her kids: customizing porcelain pieces.

Use a permanent marker to scrawl a word, quote or saying or to craft a design on a bowl, plate or mug. Place the item on a cookie sheet in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 F.

"It works for a bowl at the front door to collect keys ... or mugs to give as gifts," says Acheson.

5. Printables. Your empty frame can be transformed into a work of art with a few clicks of the mouse.

Acheson says printables are easy to access online. Many craft-focused blogs and sites like Pinterest offer downloads of colourful prints that are print-ready to slip into various sizes of frames.

"A lot of bloggers and a lot of decorating places have seasonal things you can print out. But when the holidays are done, you can swap it out for quotes or just other principles, just to change it for the season," says Acheson.

"You just do a little search and find what suits your style."

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