Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stylish Winter Living on a Budget & in a Small Space

Note: When I contacted Jocelyn about the possibility of writing something about small spaces and keeping toasty warm in the winter I expected something great. Of course she came through. I think you will find what she has to say very interesting:
 via Shawna on Pinterest

Stylish Winter Living     When Barbara first mentioned the topic of writing about small space affordable stylish living, I wasn’t quite sure what direction to take that in – there are so many! But, since I work with heaters on a daily basis and in light of the winter season descending upon us, I thought I’d look at some of the dilemmas we can face living in a small space during the cold months. One of the biggest things we deal with on a daily basis, of course, is maintaining a source of heat in our homes. Whether this is a fireplace, baseboard heaters, central heating or even small portable heaters for rooms that need an extra “punch” of heat, quite often our sources of heat just aren’t that attractive… especially the more affordable ones. So, I thought it would be fun/helpful to look at some creative ways to make our heaters stylish and cozy for this winter season, and all on a budget.

The Dreaded Baseboard Heater     Many people cringe at the thought of a baseboard heater simple because more often than not, they aren’t very attractive. The easiest and probably most affordable way to amp up the style level of a baseboard heater is simply to paint it the same color as your wall (super affordable, just use your leftover wall paint). This produces an elegant, blended look that will tend to make the heater almost disappear. You can also purchase baseboard heater covers, but these can be rather costly. 
      My favorite option is to build some type of low shelf over the heater. I particularly love this idea in an entryway. You can build a shelf over the top of the heater that’s also perfect for storing your shoes on.  It gets shoes off the floor, saving even more space, and is very affordable. Use the same color/style wood in the rest of your home, and it’ll look like it was made to be there! All you should need is one board and two L-shaped brackets. You could also skip the shoes and place pine boughs on top for extra holiday flair. You’ll never even notice the heater.

Also Dreaded: Radiator Heaters     Since radiators are a bit higher and take up a bit more room, my very favorite way to stylize these and utilize every particle of space in a small home, is to build a window seat over the top. You’ll gain seating/and or storage space and get rid of the look of the heater altogether. If you don’t have the budget or know-how to craft up a wood box seat from nothing, see if you can track down some old wood milk crates and build a box around (make sure your heater has ample room to propel hot air out.
     You can also go back to the painting method with a radiator heater. And, since these are bigger than baseboard heaters, I’ve even seen really fun results by painting the entire radiator heater the accent color in your house. It’ll be a bright pop of color, but it can be very fun and draw your eye in. If you’re aiming for the blend in idea, place a row of hanging pictures a few feet above in a straight line to draw the eye directly up. Also consider a table next to the heater that’s the same height with a tall green plant on top. A little mini fake pine tree with just white lights on top is the perfect décor for the winter months or a stack of warm fleece blankets ready to grab and cozy up with at a moment’s notice.

Source: via Allison on Pinteres

Fireplaces     The fireplace, in almost any home but especially a small home, naturally tends to become to central focal point. One of the biggest upsides to this is that a fireplace can make it very easy to get away with minimal expense and décor anywhere else in the room if the fireplace can carry the weight of the room itself. Some of my favorite inexpensive and stylish ways to decorate for winter include homemade artwork (especially by the grandkids – just give them paint in your color scheme!), a display of homemade Christmas cards, winter-themed family pictures in a large collage with a stunning frame (check your local thrift stores for these – you can find showstoppers at extremely thrifty prices), a winter-scape quilt hung on the wall or a home crafted shelf laden with family favorite books.
     A nature inspired fireplace is also one of my favorites and, I think, likely the most affordable. You can carry this idea on well after fall and winter, but since we’re talking winter in this piece, think of what you can find in nature and at no extra cost to you. Depending upon where you live, this might be pine branches and pinecones (a few red berries and glowing white candles, and you’re set!), or a bouquet of grasses spray painted silver. Even if you live in a rather “summer-like” locale, you can still take outdoor plants that you have local and affordable and transform them with spray paint to holiday colors. Another fun/southern idea is to combine fruits with some ornaments in large, bright white tray as the focal point. You can also find holiday wreaths very cheap and dismantle them to rearrange on your mantel in a very stylish, wintry fashion.

The Portable Heater     The portable space heater… if you live anywhere where the temps dip below zero on a very regular basis, chances are you’ve got one of these on hand to pull out when you just can’t keep the house warm enough. It’s perfect for keeping legs and toes warm while you’re curled up with a book. The problem is, these really aren’t very attractive (understatement) and since they’re not permanent, there’s little you can craft around them. Guidelines also recommend keeping all objects at least 3 feet away from the space heater for ultimate safety. So, how do we stylize our space heaters in a small home without a lot of cost? In my experience, the easiest way is simply to draw the eyes away from the heater. I am particularly fond of an extra tall vase with a tall wintry bouquet. With the right proportions, this can become a beautiful addition to the corner of your room and nearly take away the fact there’s a small electric space heater hiding down there. Even a tall lamp with a stunning lamp can do the trick. You can look up fun, stylish lamp shades that are DIY and super affordable. And of course, the more of nature you can use, the less expensive it will all be!

Stylish & Affordable Inspiration     No matter what your heating source is, you can find always find way to make it a “part” of your environment that fits your style and doesn’t break the bank. Remember to use things you can find free and local (pieces from nature are always good!), peruse home stores and magazines and see if you can imitate what they pulled off without the name brand cost. And if all else fails for working an item into the overall theme and style of you room, simply try to draw attention away from it. Anything tall at the side, above at eye level or simply extra bold nearby will pull attention from a ceramic space heater that does lots for your comfort but little for your style!

Freelancer Jocelyn writes for Heater Home and writes all their content related to home heating.

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