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THE HOUSE THAT CAME IN FROM THE COLD Ready your home for winter by warming up interiors with fur, fire and fine lighting, writes Alanna Gallagher


HERE’S A CHILL in the air, and with the recent news that we’re due snow by Halloween, it’s time for some introspection, “to pass the winter season in domestic seclusion” as American satirist Ambrose Bierce put it. As we turn up the central heating it is also time to turn the dial of home interiors to hibernation mode. For Ireland, aka Hibernia, our land of winter is a country where we all need to know how to batten down the hatches so move away from hard, cold concrete and start a love affair with seductive texture. San Antonio decorator Gwynn Griffin cosies up by covering her armchairs with sheepskin throws. “I pull the furniture closer to the fireplace and pull out footstools.” The second-generation Irish designer uses books to create room dividers to break up open-plan spaces. She also takes off her shoes when she comes home and wears slippers around the house, something Irish homeowners have also picked up on, says Sean McBride of Dún Laoghairebased flooring company For Floors. There’s been a major swing back towards the texture that carpets and rugs bring, he says. “Wood floorboards look contemporary and offer clean lines but homeowners, especially over the past two winters, have realised that our climate is better suited to carpets or rugs.” People now want to feel a sense of comfort underfoot. Rugs are an easy compromise without losing a contemporary space’s clean edges. But invest in underlay to helps keep the rugs in position and minimise tripping. Designer Liz LaCumber’s advice is to give brilliant white paint the brush off. “Pure white responds to our climate and gives off a cold blue white colour. Use chalky off-whites instead.” And get curtains interlined. This extra layer of thick cotton acts as an additional layer of insulation and gives them an expensive-looking finish, says LaCumber. Upholstery needs to feel tactile, with lots of throws around to cuddle under when the wind really starts to howl. Avoca’s mohair and cashmere blend throws are some of the nicest on the market and can be used to upholster furniture for a new take on heritage tweed. They cost from ¤49.95 per throw. Nest in style by fur-lining your living and bedroom. Fur is trending, and also offers texture. Italian fashion house Etro has faux furs in exotic prints. These are all lined in silk, from

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deep crimson red to silk brocade. They range in price from ¤995 to ¤1,295. Cable knit is another option. New Zealand label Bemboka has cable-knit angora and merino wool throws that are light and can be machine washed and tumble dried. These cost ¤245. Irish company Simple Things’s alpaca throws are made in Peru and never pill. They cost ¤185. All are available at Bottom Drawer in Brown Thomas. Invest in upholstery that will make your couch feel nest-like, says Dorothy Power of Roche Bobois, whose new Les Provinciales range launched this week. Velvet is an obvious choice. But the shop’s Long Island sofa reprises that 1970s staple with soft and hard-wearing corduroy. Seat cushions can be up to 115cm deep to really let you put your feet up. Prices start from ¤3,000 for a two-and-a-half-seat sofa. Lighting is another easy way to warm up the mood of any room, says David Cahill of Lighting & Living, which shares a recently opened space with Design Classics on Mill Street in Dublin 8. “Low voltage halogen bulbs will warm up any room because they give a more yellow glow than the harsher white light emitted by LEDs and fluorescent bulbs.” Even Robert McKinley, the hip New York designer known for his ultra hip and over the top style night spots, knows that the new school of thinking in interiors is homely and warm. This is reflected in the mood of his latest project, Rushmeyer’s, a lakeside resort in Montauk that has toasted-coloured wood panelling and amber-hued lighting. “You can do a lot with well-located, plug-in floor and table lamps. For example, a floor lamp behind the couch will warm up a sitting room. And sliding dimmer switches are essential to creating different mood settings.” In kitchens, food looks most appetising under halogen light. Pendants over dining tables should be in bright colours, to add warmth. In the bedroom, warm, soft lighting is essential. Bathing by candlelight in a warm bathroom takes some beating, especially if you have helped yourself to a glass of wine and loaded the bath with Epsom salts. But the sybaritic practice is on the wane, says Niall McGarry of BTW, an Irish company with eight showrooms of baths, tiles and wood flooring across the county. Wet rooms are the more efficient option. Savvy homeowners are investing in electric undertile mats that can be climatically controlled to create a temperate place to wash. They cost from

¤200, excluding fitting. Towel-warmers now cost from just ¤120 and add hotel polish to the experience. Nothing beats the allure of an open fire, but it is going the way of the bath, says John Healy, technical manager at Lamartine Fireplaces: “Efficiency is what really interests people now.” This doesn’t mean you have to short change your aesthetic. The Phenix 650, a wood and multi-fuel design by Bodart and Gonay offers the best of both worlds. It comes with a glass front that can be raised to reveal an open fire. The rest of the time it burns peat, briquettes and wood. Healy has one in his house and was able to switch the central heating off at 6pm, even during the coldest parts of last winter. If the idea of having your fire behind glass is a bit too much of a passion killer, try the Kal-Fire Fairo, a gas-fuelled fire that uses realistic, heatemitting ceramic logs. This design has 82 per cent efficiency, as well as an open hearth. Standardwidth fires cost from ¤3,000 and the design is available up to 1.6 metres wide (this will cost approximately ¤6,000). All prices are excluding

Pure white responds to our climate and gives off a cold blue white colour. Use chalky off-whites instead