After I packed away the gingerbread house and the nativity snow globes, I thought, now what? How can I infuse the house with winter? Do I even want to?
December packs a wallop, food and design wise, so perhaps we need the month of January to recuperate from the full time job that Christmas has become. Maybe we need the clean, Zen-like emptiness that comes from halls that aren't decked.
Me, I tend to spend the winter in the kitchen. No decorating, just lots of eating and playing with dishes.
I don't think I'm the only one.
Winter is a cold, spare season when we hunker indoors, sip hot tea, and flip through gardening catalogs. In the kitchen, we opt for hearty, one-pot meals.
We are nesting, gathering strength and trying to keep warm—all the more reason to have pleasing objects around us, and to be comforted without adding stress.
Now that the holidays decorations are gone, our homes seem bare. If you're like me, this is most welcome. Yet the soul cries out for just a little decorating. If you want to add winter items to your home, where will you find them? Home Goods is filled with Christmas markdowns or Easter bunnies--a great time to score deals. But little is offered in the way of winter decor.
Grocery stores can’t offer inspiration because produce shelves overflow with root vegetables. A bowl of turnips isn’t as appealing as a bowl of plums (or maybe it depends on the turnip).
Then there's the color dilemma.
We don’t feel comfortable with red because we left that color in December (though we’ll be happy to see it in February).
January is colorless, an in-between time that’s completely ignored by retailers. Maybe this is a blessing. Just think, a cottage industry could rise up from this neglected month and we'd all be driven crazy.
No rest for the weary tablescaper.
What is winter decorating, exactly? A lone snowflake should be the logo, but this whimsical symbol got swallowed by Christmas.
The season is about contrasts—warm breath rising above your head in a column or a steaming bowl of chowder in a bone white bowl. Winter is frost on the windows and a fire in the hearth. It’s about creating heat and light in a dim, cold world.
Personally, I think decorating with food is the way to go--what could be better than an edible centerpiece? But what if you aren't into cooking? Where can you find inspiration? The backyard is a place to start or just "shop" your house.
- Twigs. Curly willow in a vase.
- Shiny objects—glass, mirrors, crystal, mercury glass
- White flowers. A single white tulip. Orchids are clean and elegant (if you can keep them alive).
- An all-white tablescape
- Clear blue glassware and white dishes
- Ivy trailing through silver candelabras
- Comforting collections: teacups and teapots; egg cups.
- Crystal candlesticks on a silver tray
- Edible centerpieces (apple cobblers, potato gratin, a tureen filled with soup or chili)
We should do that every day of every season.
For me, it's also a time to think about getting organized. The days are smoother if I'm not engulfed by clutter. (Though I do love it.)
This is how my kitchen looked last year. Pretty spare, to be sure. It's not like that now. No way. After a year of writing, this tidy scene is nothing but a dim memory. I'm going to roll up my sleeves and get busy.