Tuesday, November 21, 2006

How to build a nook!

Last weekend I had a story in the Post-Standard's Home & Garden section on how to make yourself a cozy spot in your house/apartment, conceived and written in anticipation of the bleak Syracuse winter ahead. To the right, you can see my own attempt to craft a comfortable nook in my apartment where I can read and do productive things - a project which has actually met with some degree of success. I can only hope that the more time and effort I invest in enhancing this corner, the greater my productivity will be...

And below is my Post-Standard story. As ever, enjoy!

Find a cozy nook to while away winter's chill

Saturday, November 11, 2006
By Kathleen V. Poe
Contributing writer

The days are getting shorter, the evenings chillier, the wind more biting. It's almost enough to make you never want to leave your house again - and it hasn't even snowed yet.

Once winter arrives in Syracuse in full force, you might be inclined to hunker down at home with a good book or movie, or cozy up by the fireplace to shut out the frosty weather. After a few weeks, though, you could start to feel a little stir-crazy. Instead of letting the walls of your home close in on you this winter, why not fend off cabin fever by creating a comfort space?

"People always seem to go to the coziest nook in their house," said Carolyn Sollis, style director for House & Garden magazine, before speaking to a crowd of more than 150 at the Fayetteville Stickley showroom Oct. 26. "I think people like the idea of vast spaces, but in fact they really feel more comfortable in a little enclosed space. They feel protected."

Her decorating philosophy rests on the intangible sense of how a space makes you feel. The five things every space needs, according to Sollis: character, comfort, color, contrast and change. These principles apply on any scale, whether it's a college apartment or a new house.

"You have to figure out what you love and what you respond to, because if your house reflects that, then you really feel great," Sollis said. "You don't need to look down the road and see what your neighbors are doing, because that's not necessarily for you."

Here are some tips for creating a comfortable space where you can while away the hours:

- It's important to remember that even a small change can have a big impact. Sollis looks to accents and accessories to enhance the cozy feeling of a space without breaking the bank: new pillows or a throw for your favorite chair, or a small area rug for cushioning underneath.

Candles and accessories that have an interesting texture, like baskets or things made of twigs, make especially nice wintertime decorations.

"It sounds silly, but if you put one collection of something in a big bowl rather than a lot of different kinds of things, I think it has a great look, a great impact," Sollis said.

And, of course, lighting is of utmost importance.

"Good lighting makes a big difference," said Sollis, who changes her lampshades seasonally. "I have great red lampshades that I put on in my living room (for the winter), and just changing the lampshades makes a huge difference."

- For those nook-seekers who have limited space, "I think you have got to find a wonderful chair," she said. "That would be the key."

A single chair can be the linchpin to a comfort space where you can read a book, watch TV or otherwise relax and set aside the stress of the day. But as comfortable as your favorite chair might be, Sollis stressed that you might want to invest in the area around it as well if you plan on spending a lot of time there.

"When you sit down in your chair, you need a table right next to it, so you can put your drink down; you need a good light, so you can read; you need a rug to help it be quiet," she explained.

"Even in a small space, you can organize it really well, have a place for everything, and I think that makes you feel comfortable. In a small space, if it's messy, you feel crazy. When things are in their right place, you feel like you can breathe."

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