There’s no hiding from the fact that we’re already waking up to darker, cooler mornings and evenings, no matter how much we’re all wishing for the Indian summer to continue. Those lucky enough to have a conservatory, garden room, or orangery may have already noticed their favourite summer room now has something of a chill.
Although we traditionally associate these types of rooms with summer, with a few simple cosy touches, they can be enjoyed year-round. After all, what’s more pleasurable than curling up with a hot drink and watching the scenery change outside with the seasons?
Here, Catharina Björkman, Scandi lifestyle expert at Swedish wood burning stove manufacturer, Contura , shares her guide to making the most of your garden room this autumn-winter.
Catharina says: “Garden rooms and conservatories are a connection between our indoor living space and the outdoors, which is so beneficial for our wellbeing, but these rooms can get chilly, dark and damp as the weather cools down.
“In Sweden, we love to update our homes regularly to make the most of all spaces regardless of the time of year. Cold weather needn’t mean these rooms should be abandoned. Instead, we update them to make them extra cosy and comfortable to relax in whatever the weather.
“Adding a stove or wood burner is an obvious way to make your garden room more useable year-round, but there are a number of other simple changes you can do to keep the space cosy throughout colder months.”
No one wants gusts of icy wind ruining a cosy evening, so eliminate these ahead of the colder weather. Most heat escapes from door and window frames, so use draught excluders around doors and windows to ensure you’re keeping heat in and the cold out. Similarly, try fitting weatherstripping tape on any exterior doors or windows. The tape is used to fill any gap between the frame and the moving parts of a door or window. If you’re unsure how to do this there are plenty of handy tutorials on YouTube. Secondary glazing is a good way to insulate should your garden room be fitted with single glazed windows or doors.
Invest in Curtains or Blinds
If you don’t already have them, invest in some blinds or curtains. These will help your garden room or conservatory retain heat in the cooler months and – bonus – will also keep the sun out on hot summer days. It’s tempting to choose heavy, dark winter curtains, but for longevity, choose a neutral colour that will work all year round. Soft greys, warm yellows or soothing greys all work well. If possible, choose floor-to-ceiling options to retain the most heat, these can be tied back in summer as well.
As garden rooms typically have tiled or concrete floors, without the luxury of underfloor heating these can feel very cold in winter. A simple and stylish solution is to add decorative rugs. These not only help retain room temperature and feel nicer underfoot but can also help bring the overall room style together. You can position a rug under a table or in front of chairs or sofas for an on-trend look. A bold print rug, such as decorative Indian style, can look great combined with more laid-back interiors, but play around with shape, colour, texture and size to find the right look for the space. Rug wall hangings can also look stylish and help prevent heat loss through the walls.
There’s nothing better than curling up under a blanket – mug of tea or hot chocolate in hand – whilst watching the autumn leaves change colour and fall outside. Make the most of the opportunity to get cosy and ensure you have blankets, throws and comfy cushions scattered around the room. Choose warm colours and earthy tones that work well for autumn/winter, such as burnt orange, moss greens and warming terracotta. Go for textures that are soft and woolly for the most cosy look. If your sofa or armchairs are looking a little tired, an instant way to update them is to add throws. Your furniture will look brand new, without a hefty price tag.
A welcoming scent is pleasant for both you and any visitors. Cinnamon, nutmeg and woody notes such as pine, fir, sandalwood and forest smells can really enhance a cosy feeling. Try scented candles rather than plug-in sprays, as these give an added glow to the room. Candles that use organic ingredients and essential oils also have aromatherapeutic qualities; helping you to feel happier and more relaxed. You could even match your candle scent to suit your mood: lemon is uplifting, lavender is calming, cinnamon is relaxing.
A Warm Glow
Harsh overhead lighting can be quite abrasive, so consider adding floor and table lamps for a more Scandi, softer, cosier light. You could add coloured lantern style lighting (red or amber look really inviting) combined with tea lights for a warm, cosy glow. Strings of fairy lights hung strategically can enhance a cosy look. Alternatively, look for lights with a dimmer option so you can adjust the light brightness to suit the required cosy-factor.
Decoration & greenery
Don’t leave your garden room or conservatory to languish unloved. Include it in your décor plans and ensure it gets special treatment. Aside from updating the room for Christmas, why not add autumnal decorations to give a nod to the season? A mix of conkers, fir cones and dried orange slices in dishes look great, or you could make your own potpourri using scented oils to give a cosy scent. Artfully styled bowls of russet and red apples is also a winning combination.
Plants and flowers can instantly lift a tired room and give it a new lease of life. For autumn/winter, look to add warm toned flowers such as copper coloured chrysanthemums, red roses and red berries for a boost of colour. Bulbs, such as narcissus and hyacinth, also do well in winter rooms. Herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme and dill all grow well indoors during winter. You may need to adjust your watering levels to suit colder temperatures and ensure plants get a daily dose of sunshine.
Switch to ‘Nature’s TV’
Sitting by a fire, watching the flames, listening to the crackles and pops and enjoying the warmth will not only keep your garden room cosy year-round but it’s also proven to lower blood pressure – what better way to de-stress at the end of the day?
A wood burning stove can be a great focal point for your garden room through the winter, as well as providing the much-needed warmth. If space is tight look for a compact stove that doesn’t overpower the room. For fitting into an existing chimney breast you could consider an insert stove , and if you want a statement stove that can be positioned anywhere in the room, opt for a freestanding stove . Burning logs from scented trees such as apple or cherry gives off wonderful wood and fruit scents, so add these varieties to your log basket for use throughout autumn and winter.
For more information, visit www.contura.eu