43 tips for cosying up your home

Our easy plan for transforming your house from chilly to cosy – plus Good readers share their tried and tested advice for making the most of the season

Our easy plan for transforming your house from chilly to cosy – plus Good readers share their tried and tested advice for making the most of the season

5 steps to a winter-proof home

1. Draughts: Plug gaps in door and window frames, block off unused chimneys and make draught-stoppers for your doors with fabric remnants. See good.net.nz/draughts for easy instructions.

2. Windows: Stop heat escaping through windows by having them double-glazed. If conventional double-glazing is out of the budget, try more cost-effective options such as stick-on acrylic sheets available form hardware stores. Dramatic curtains are the best at sealing in heat. Let them pool on the floor as this prevents cold air dropping from your window and escaping out the bottom of the curtain. Effective thermal curtains are basically quilts for your windows. They’ve got three layers: a heavy drape, an interior layer of duvet-like polyester or wool batting called bumpf, and lining.

3. Floors: Block heat loss through the floor with a top-quality woollen carpet. Wool fights damp and helps regulate moisture levels in your home, as it can absorb and release water vapour without feeling soggy. You could also invest in a thick woollen rug or have a large square of carpet hemmed. Don’t forget to attach an extra insulating layer of thermal underlay beneath.

4. Ventilation: The key to preventing a damp home is good ventilation. For starters, try leaving a window or door open for half an hour first thing in the morning to ‘air out’ your house. Don’t add any extra moisture to the air – avoid drying laundry inside, limit the number of houseplants and ensure bathroom steam is forced outside after each shower. For bonus points, lay a vapour barrier on the ground beneath your house to stop damp rising from the earth.

5. Sunlight: Make the most of winter sunlight – trim any trees around your house to let the sun in. Close windows and curtains as soon as it gets dark to capture any warmth from the day. Only heat the rooms you use. Encourage the family to gather in the lounge in the evening, but pop hot water bottles into beds so they’re warm when it’s time to get in.

Warmer houses

If the oven has been used to cook dinner, I turn it off and leave the door open to let the heat escape and help warm the house. –Angela

Close the curtains when the sun goes off the house to keep in that lovely free heat! –Donna

When it’s damp inside your house it feels colder. Wipe down the shower walls after you’ve showered, and always use the fan with a window slightly open to make it more efficient – it’s amazing what a difference it makes. –Hilary

I’m living in a cold flat. We can’t have real double glazing but we use the stick-on plastic double glazing that costs about $15. You just stick the special tape round the window frame, attach the plastic film and heat it with a hairdryer to smooth out the wrinkles. It makes your room about four degrees warmer by stopping heat loss through the glass.

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I make sure I give the house a good dust and polish before winter so everything feels fresh and clean. It’s also nice to stock up on lovely candles and linen spray so that the house never ends up smelling musty. –Eddie

I try to have something smelling mouthwatering in the kitchen all weekend. Being inside, toasty warm and busy, and looking out at a cold grey day is heartwarming, and when the heart is warm so is everything else. –Belinda

Getting cosy

I buy big offcuts of snuggly sheep fleece and sew them together with linen thread – one for the push chair, one for the carseat, one for the couch. It’s cheap, easy and super cute. –Gabrielle

It’s time to pull out the fluffy blankets for the couches, the crochet blankets for our knees, the vintage patchwork quilts to go over the beds, new hottie covers made from old jumpers – oh and we can’t forget a new doggy jacket made from the sleeve of an old jumper! –Shani

It’s great snuggling on the sofa with a lovely big blanket to keep warm and to keep the power costs down. –Erin

The optimum living room temperatures is between 18-22°C
the World Health Organization

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My main priority in winter is always making sure the path from the front door to the car is clear for a mad dash in the rain! I try to embrace the season – I collect leaves to fill up all my clear vases and chestnuts and conkers to leave in pretty bowls around the place. And keep the birds fed so they bring their chicks around come spring. –Megan

As a new homeowner I’ve had a free Home Energy Audit done and I am currently getting quotes for roof and underfloor insulation. I will utilise the Government’s insulation subsidy to help with the costs and the Wellington Regional Council home insulation assistance scheme. Info on both initiatives can be found at www.eeca.govt.nz and www.gw.govt.nz . –Helen

Re-arrange the furniture so the focus is on the woodburner rather than the tv. I find that this encourages reading, playing the guitar, chatting with the kids or just sitting and relaxing, mesmerized by the flickering flames. Also wander your garden to find some winter blooms, foliage and seed pods. Its amazing what little treasures you will find when you think there is nothing happening in the garden and it will bring the beauty indoors. –Monica

Arm yourself with cats. Pile them on in front of the telly. You won’t be able to move unless somebody rattles the can opener or shakes the Whiskas box. –Stephanie

We do crafts in front of the fireplace, cook food for the soul and invite friends around to pass the cold winter nights, games and movie nights are a must and during the day wearing bright cheerful colours, visiting markets and making the most of the crisp sunny winter days. Winter flies by in our household! –Olivia

The average Kiwi lounge is only 17.9°C on a winter’s evening

We dry our washing at night in front of the fire and keep our boots warm for the morning. Nothing like going out on a frosty morning with hot little feet. Our best use of our free fuel and cosy fire was when we boiled water on our fire top to heat the birthing pool when our daughter was born in the middle of winter! –Fi

Don’t neglect accessories: warm socks, thermals, hats scarves (bright and cheerful) and gloves make a huge difference! –Donna

We’re just about to install a woodburner! I am so looking forward to that primal thing of sitting staring at a fire on a cold day. We were at my mother’s in the weekend and my son was gazing at her fire. “I could stare at this as if it was a TV,” he said. Of course our fire is going to be a super clean-burning one so as to minimise air pollution. –Andrea

I’ve stockpiled the firewood, had the chimney sweep around to clean out the fireplace, just put in a double glazed ranch slider (added light, and keeps out cold), bought lots of warm, mustard/yellow cushions to instantly brighten up the interior, booked in to get insulation done!

Staying healthy

I make sure I have a bottle of blackcurrant-type syrup. I find it hard to keep up the water intake when the temperature drops. Add hot water to one of these syrups and you’re boosting the good bug-fighting vitamins!

I start drinking fresh lemon and ginger drinks each morning from May right through till September – I’m yet to get the flu! –Millie

I always make sure that when the sun is out to get outside even for just ten minutes. It’s amazing how quickly it can lift your spirits. I sometimes sit in a doorway where it is sheltered from the wind but streaming with sun – bliss!

Don’t forget to take advantage of the odd sunny day and wear a t-shirt so you can get your Vitamin D by exposing your skin to the sun. –Lesley

I love getting rugged up- coat, scarf, hat, tights, boots everything- and heading out to the beach. Blows the cobwebs out and revs up your system like a gem! –Alex

“There is no wrong weather just wrong clothing” is what my mother used to tell me when we out again on an icy cold Sunday morning to go for the traditonal weekend walk.

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Getting things done

Write a list of all the ‘inside’ jobs you want to accomplish over winter so that on rainy days you can feel like you are making progress while cooped up indoors. By spring, instead of feeling like a caged animal you will feel like a productive princess (or prince)! –Kath

I winter-proof my home by planting lots of bulbs, as they start to grow it is a constant reminder that spring will be here super soon! –Sarah

Winter food

I buy bulk ‘discarded’ fruit from the local fruit shop – a big pile of apples, pears or plums which may be slightly bruised or something (they often look fine to me!), stew them up and keep a big pot of it in the fridge to dollop on plain yoghurt with honey for pudding. They can also be used for a crumble or muffins too – all for the bargain price of about $2.50! –Laura

We uncover the crock pot and spend days on end eating hot soups (favourite one being pumpkin with a bit of cinnamon) with waffles from mum’s old waffle maker. Very “hearty” to say the least! –Sam

I put on a casserole in the morning and sit it on top of my fireplace all day until the meat is gorgeous and tender in the evening for dinner. The comforting aroma is lovely wafting through the house, and no wasted energy as most of the cooking happens on the fireplace! –Hana

Winter is the perfect time to indulge your cooking skills. I make the effort to spend time with my husband cooking fabulous winter warming meals that take your mind off the cold weather outside. –Susan

Everyone likes soup, it’s warm hearty food and a great way of using up old veggies and some of the winter crops in the garden. Match with freshly baked bread, and who needs summer! –Leah

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Soup for lunch, laden with vegetables and flavoursome meat stock (I always make stock with meat bones, and freeze it in containers). Totally delicious and you can cram in heaps of vegetables to keep you super healthy. Soon I will be cooking it on the woodburner! –Andrea

Nothing beats coming home to a spicy beef curry and a steamed jam sponge pudding smothered with custard after a brisk walk embracing thr elements swathed in good old Kiwi merino head to toe and that fire glowing welcomingly as you put your trainers to air in front of it! –Gaye

For those gloomy days ahead, I winter-proof our home by freezing stewed rhubarb from the garden ready for the crumbles and by stocking up on drinking chocolate and marshmallows! –Lisa

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Three steps to a mould-free wardrobe
Here’s how to avoid opening your wardrobe door to find a nasty surprise:

1. Do a wardrobe clear-out! Clothes that are hanging loosely rather than squished together allow air to circulate, making it harder for mould to grow. Leave your wardrobe open during the day to ventilate it, or create space by moving some items to a free-standing garment rack.
2. Those little bags of silica gel are handy for soaking up excess moisture, so keep them in the pockets of stored garments. (See good.net.nz/silicagel for more).
3. Always dry clothing completely before putting it away. A couple of swipes with the iron helps if an something is damp or cold to the touch. If you get caught in the rain, make sure both garments and shoes are dry before putting them away or tossing them in the washing basket.

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