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How to prepare your home for winter

Thermal drapes keep the heat in during winter,

Thermal drapes keep the heat in during winter, and also keep the place cool in the summer. Credit: Thermal drapes keep the heat in during winter, and also keep the place cool in the summer.

As the colder weather sets in, we put together a guide to ready your home for the chill Jack Frost has in store for us - from the best kind of bedding to keep you snug and warm, to how to keep that pesky draft from coming through the windows you didn't get the chance to replace last summer.


Patricia O'Shaughnessy, who owns an interior desgn company that bears her name, said if cold-preventing window treatments aren't an option, try using drapes with a thermal interlining.

"You can choose any fabric to face the room, making drapes the most versatile treatment in terms of decorating," she said.

O'Shaughnessy said fabricated shutters made of composite material, like those sold by Hunter Douglas, are lightweight and better at blocking the cold than real wood.

Betsy Helmuth, of Affordable Interior Design, added that thermal linings are also sold separately for your curtains, "but they look a little like a shower curtain."

Thermal drapes are a better option, she agreed, noting that J.C. Penny sells them in a range of colors for affordable prices.

And as an added bonus, the curtains also keep air conditioning inside during the summer.


Both designers suggested laying down warm, plush rugs for winter, or layering thinner rugs on top of each other.

"If you really want a warm and cozy room, specifically bedrooms, it is really nice to use wall-to-wall carpeting," O'Shaughnessy said. "But what happens when the season is over, and you like the feeling of wood or tile under your feet?"

Another option O'Shaughnessy recommends is ordering carpet squares out of a Flor catalog. You can order as many as you want, they fit next to each other to fill the space of a room, and can be easily removed and stacked in storage during warmer months, she said.

Helmuth said because fire codes prevent many New Yorkers from keeping a mat outside their front doors to shake off snow and slush, you can place one directly on the inside.

Go for a jute or sisal rug, both made with natural fibers, "because they're really low pile so when you open your door it doesn't catch, and they're really rough for wear and tear."

The bedroom

Flannel sheets, like those found in the Garnet Hill catalog, with wool blankets and a Matlasse cotton spread is the northeastern standard in the winter, O'Shaughnessy said.

"If you have issues with dampness," she added, "get an electric blanket. It dries out the bedding and warms the mattress."

While down and feather comforters are the most luxurious, O'Shaughnessy said, silk comforters are a warm and cozy substitution for those who can't handle the dander.

Helmuth added that she uses a down synthetic comforter, which is hypoallergenic and provides the same warmth.

She suggested getting a textured duvet cover for it, as the texture looks good right out of the dryer and adds a cozy feeling to the room.

Another tip Helmuth gave is putting a rug in the bedroom, extending from the night stand and out from under the bed.

"In the morning we don't want to step off onto the cold floor," she explained.

She said a 6-by-9 foot rug is good for a queen-sized bed, and 8-by-10 is good for a king. "It gives a U-shape where you can walk around the bed," she said.

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