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The changing of the seasons seems to instinctively bring with it an instinctive need for clearing out and getting organised.  Perhaps it is the fact that our children start school in autumn, but come October, we all seem to feel the urge to take out the old and bring in the new.  In spring, we usually bring out our “marigolds” for a touch of spring cleaning, in autumn, we feel the need to reduce our clutter and prepare the house for winter.

Before you begin to reorganise, it makes sense to review what you actually own.  Most of us share our lives with a great deal of unwanted things, possessions which once deserved room in our house, but which no longer serve a useful purpose, articles accumulated over the years that have established squatters’ rights in the hall or in our spare room.  Be ruthless.  Evaluate your belongings honestly and objectively, discarding what you no longer need, use or enjoy.  Get rid of those things that used to look good but are now showing irreparable signs of wear and tear.  There are plenty of outlets for anything that still has some usable life left in it – online sites, second hand shops, charity shops, car boot sales, jumble sales, animal shelters and school fairs are good forms of recycling anything from old clothes and furniture to clothes and books.  What no-one in their right mind would want, throw out.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

Remember the old adage – have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.  The idea behind this strategy is not to force ourselves into a spartan-like existence, but to get the maximum pleasure and usefulness out of both space and possessions.  Clutter is a waste of precious space and a guarantee that essentials will be overlooked, lost and even uselessly duplicated.

Once you have discarded as much as you can, sit back and enjoy the space you have created.   Think about how you are going to prepare your home for the winter months.  Primarily, consider the practical elements that need to be taken care of before the wet season starts.   Is the waterproofing on the roof up for another winter?  Are the doors and windows water and draught proof?  Is there enough ventilation in order to prevent condensation forming on your glass panes?  Check that floor drains in any exterior area are free from obstruction and that water drains away quickly and efficiently.   Sort out the practicalities before moving on to the interior of the house.

Look at the layout of your furniture.   Move pieces around to create cosy areas of conversation.  Change the position of small tables and place a few attractive accessories on the floor rather than in their usual position on tables and shelves.  On a more practical note, make sure the children have enough space for their school books and a quiet area to study and do their homework once school starts.

Think about adding a touch of deeper colour to your walls.  Moody colours add atmosphere and warmth to an interior.  Choose a colour that tones in with the fabric and accessories you already have in your home.  Dark taupe, grey, teal and green can totally transform the room.  Think about adding wallpaper on one or two walls to add pattern and texture to your walls.

Living Room - pillows, texture, pattern
Bedroom - task lighting, pilows, patterns, fabric, texture

Think about what touches you can add in order to create a cosy, welcoming atmosphere inside your home.  Look at your soft furnishings.  Simple ideas like leaving the curtains to hang without tiebacks and adding a few trimmings will give a warmer look to your interior.   Choose deep tones of the same colour scheme you have used in your furnishings and drape a woollen throw over the sofa.  Roll up woollen blankets in a basket or copper tray in preparation for the cold months ahead.  Fill your log basket with firewood and place in front of the fireplace.   Introduce dark tones, pattern and texture to your sofa by adding piles of cushions.   Think about replacing your coffee table with an upholstered ottoman in a luxurious velvet.   Add carpets and rugs to soften our tiled floors.

Make sure you light up the corners of your space.  Table lamps, wall lights and sculptural lighting add an interesting element to any space.  Light fragrant candles and oil lamps and place them around the house.  Add candles to the hall and also in sheltered places outside the front door to celebrate the start of the winter season.  Look at ways in which you can create interesting plays of light and shadow to add warmth to forgotten corners in the room.   Conceal a candle inside a pierced terracotta ornament or behind a piece of wooden fretwork.  A small bulb can also be used at floor level to light up an interesting piece of furniture.   Always make sure that candles are not left unattended and that the materials used are not combustible. Place candles in flame proof containers, away from draughts and soft furnishings.

These soft touches will add an element of colour and warmth to the home room and will prepare us both practically and psychologically for the winter months ahead.