Learning from the Russians How to Make
Your House Cozy and Warm for the Winter
By Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach
This summer, I sat in a restored wood cabin on
Kidzhi Island in Russia, where the winters are WINTERS and contemplated what it would be
like to spend months and months in tiny quarters with your loved ones when it was freezing cold
outside, and a matter of survival. One large room, with a very low ceiling, and something very
special in one corner. The corner opposite the hearth was considered sacred, and held an icon.
(See photo here:
Color is very important to warmth. The natural wood on the inside - walls, floor and ceiling
alike - was warm, and I could imagine the glow from the flicker of the fireplace.
The homes in the Russian villages are all brightly painted on the outside, something you never seem
to see in the photos. (See photo here:
http://www.webstrategies.cc/nancy_and_babushka.jpg) We were surprised at the continual "fairyland,"
a term the guides had learned to use because I'm
sure they heard it often.
They also spend a lot of time on their windows, which are not standardized and seem to be the
"brand" of the family. Different sizes, ornately carved, painted in accent colors. Truly a
fairytale. I was there in the summer, but could just picture what it would all look like in the
winter. We do not want to camouflage ourselves in the snow. We want to shout out "I'm
here, I'm alive, I'm warm, I'm thriving!" Consider putting something very bright on the outside of your
home - door mat, door decoration, wall mounting to signal your haven from the cold.
When we entered the cabin (living history) there was a young village woman in costume seated by the
window to grab the light, and to be immortalized in it - like a Vermeer, And she was doing
KEEPING THE HOME FIRES BURNING
I've always referred to certain tasks as "keeping the home fires burning." Why did I decorate for
Christmas? Why did I send cards on everyone's birthday and anniversary? Why the weekly phone
calls to distant relatives, and the extra effort put into food presentation? Even my Camp Fire
Girl chosen Indian name was something about "hearth."
Sitting there in Kidzhi, I imagined Neanderthals huddled around the fire, getting as close to each
other and their animals as they could, to stay warm. And yes, in the Kidzhi larger cabins, one
of the rooms was a winter barn for the livestock where the animals spent the winter.
I thought of "3 dog nights," nights so cold the eskimos bedded down with 3 dogs, instead of 2, or
1, or none.
I always start "nesting" in the fall. I want to stay home more, and start doing handwork again -
sometimes knitting sweaters, sometimes needlepoint
pillow or pictures. I bake more, fix hearty stews and steamy chilis and homemade bread, the staff of
What can you do to make your home "warmer" in the winter? Work with that primitive scene - the
furs, the closeness, the color of fire, the need to hunker down.
15 TIPS FOR TAKING IT UP A NOTCH
1. Change to the winter slip covers, in warm fabrics such as velvet or
corduroy, in deep colors of the fire. Remember it goes to "blue" when it's
hottest. Deep jewel tones, dark golds, rich magentas and burnt oranges, a splash of ultraviolet
2. Bring out the accent pieces - some pillows with handwork you've bought or made, the winter afghan
draped casually over the sofa.
3. Rearrange the furniture just a litte, bringing things in closer, and closer to the fireplace, so
people can figuratively "huddle."
4. Throw down some throw rugs. (You can always find some super deals on carpet-remnant area rugs
if you look around.) I live in South Texas where
I enjoy the tile floors for the 8 months it's over 90 degrees, but they are sooo cold looking and
feeling in the winter, so I bring out the area rugs.
5. Buy a Lab and put him on his bed in front of the fireplace. j.k. about buying one for the
occasion, but is there anything like watching your animal companion nestled in his bed by the hearth?
Buy him a special winter bed; it's very much a part of the scene, isn't it?
6. Change out the bedspreads and duvets to the winter fabrics and color scheme, and bring out the
7. Start a collection of 'winter' pictures you build over the years. I've framed different
photos of the kids skiing, in their snowsuits, and trying to catch snowflakes with their tongues.
They peek out at me at different ages, bringing back warm winter memories.
8. Change a few photo frames seasonally. Pictures I have in the guest bath, I change
according to season. The color scheme is neutral, and I have a winter set of towels, soaps, dishes,
9. Work with the lighting if you can, especially if you work at home. It's the season for SAD
(seasonal affective disorder) and we need as much light as we can get. If you have a home office,
try some of those health lamps.
10. Change lamp shades in the living areas so they "glow".
11. If you have an especially cold room - in temperature and/or in decor - buy one of those
12. Make it smell warm and cozy. Do some real cooking on the weekends when everyone's home. Few
of us get to walk in the door at night and smell
the pot roast cooking or the wonderful odor of stew simmering on the back burner, but you can do
this on the weekend. Special breads as well. If you're not allergic to candle aromas, work with
Even a touch or two can make a difference. On the North Shore of Chicago where I lived as a teen, in
the windy city where it was always "colder by the
Lake," the sign that winter was coming was the funkia blooming, and that's when my mother changed
out the slipcovers and coal was dumped down the
chute into the basement. I always got that excited twinge - ah ... winter was coming.
13. This year why not redo the fireplace accessories? They're often the focal point of the
great room. Spruce up the screen and hardware, and perhaps find an exceptional new container for
some logs Invest in a set of sumptuous brass andirons like these: http://tinyurl.com/y84s .
Brass and pewter are great for "warming up" a room. You "sink into them," not "bounce off."
14. Stay warm AND SAFE - Get the carbon monoxide detectors, escape ladders, smoke alarms, smoke
guards, creosote removers, stove boards and hearth extenders that are critical products to improve
the safety of your home and family from fires. Here is a source: http://fireplaceoutfitters.com/safetyessentials.htm.
Choose a hearth rug for ambiance but safety as well.
15. Put a bird feeder at at least one window where you can always see it. There's nothing like
watching a cardinal hop around on the window sill to cheer.
Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach(tm), www.susandunn.cc.
Want to be an EQ coach? Get in early; it's growing fast because of its exceptional value to ALL clientsand businesses. We train and certify EQ Coaches -
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Other articles of Susan Dunn:
eBook May Bring You the Man of Your Dreams - by
Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach. "Reading this ebook
MAY bring you the man of your dreams, but so MAY dying your hair blond,
getting a better education, or dumb luck". Read Susan Dunn's tips to
learn how to manage your emotional intelligence - "understanding
emotions in yourself and others and managing them to make good
Top 10 Reasons to Postpone Sex -
by Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach - “Regardless
of what you think (intellectually), sex has powerful consequences and
Here are the top ten reasons to postpone physical intimacy”.
DOs and DON'Ts for Travel in Russia -
by Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach - When
travelling, avoid feeling like a lost puppy in Chinatown…or in
Russia. Read on these reminders for your travel to Russia.
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