Before you know it, out-of-town relatives and friends will be descending on your home for turkey and holiday merriment. It’s not too early to get your abode ready for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and all the other reasons we gather in our homes to share food, warmth and memories of the year that’s about to pass. Take a cue from the savvy squirrels and start preparing your home now. It’s easier than ever, and you’ll be thankful to not be juggling the feathering of your nest with frequent post office trips and the annual hunt for the must-have toy of the season. As a designer, I always like to start with fabrics, one of the most effective tools when it comes to making your home cozy for the season. Fabrics help create an atmosphere of convivial warmth through their inherent visual and physical texture so if you haven’t freshened your curtains in the past decade, are growing tired of your thread-bare sofa or want to turn your bedroom into a spa-like sanctuary before the crush of holiday obligations, start by addressing the fabrics (or lack thereof) in your home.
These days, it’s easier than ever with the emergence of one-stop destinations like Calico, the country’s largest retailer of custom window treatments and custom upholstered furniture. Calico has become a dominant player in this market, in large part, because it has artfully mastered the complete and affordable no-hassle customer experience, inclusive of free professional design assistance, custom manufacturing of finished goods and final installation. This year alone, says Jan Jessup, Calico’s director of merchandising, the retailer “will create more than 100,000 window treatments and almost 10,000 pieces of custom upholstered furniture, each specifically tailored to suit an individual homeowner’s taste.” With more than 10,000 fabrics in stock, the bonus here isn’t just the wide selection of accessible product. It’s also the affordability bolstered by the gratis design advice. “Our focus is on great design at the lowest possible price,” Jessup says. “We want to deliver the ultimate customer experience which, for us, includes free-of-charge in-home design consultations on more complex projects in addition to the free in-store design services.” Even though it’s been made easy for you, this is not the time to slack. According to Jessup, the deadline for early December delivery of custom window treatments is mid-October; the deadline for any furniture reupholstery needed by Christmas is Oct. 22. Here’s an important tip: Choose fabrics with visible texture if you live in rooms with great natural light. It’ll up the cozy factor. If your house is naturally dark, consider fabrics with a subtle polish or metallic detailing to help bounce the light around. Also, ensure that those new drapery panels are as floor-to-ceiling as possible. They’ll not only make your home feel warmly dramatic but also beautifully expansive, giving your ceiling a free lift. Next, take a good look at what’s adorning your walls. You, your family and your guests are going to be spending a lot more time inside once the weather turns, so if you’re still showcasing old dorm-room posters, consider the change of seasons an opportunity to graduate.
If your walls are bare because you’re paralyzed by the fear of bad decision making or the potentially high cost, myriad art sites have made the process affordable and easy, even for the budget-challenged art novice. Among my favorites is a recently launched site called Artfully Walls, created to make the experience of selecting art online enjoyable and affordable. Artfully Walls excels in the creation of gallery walls (artistically assembled compositions), a huge but difficult to tackle trend in home interior design. “People are drawn to the look of gallery walls because they add chic style and make a personal statement,” says Cathy Glazer, chief executive and founder of Artfully Walls. “They’re often overwhelmed, however, when it comes to creating their own walls,” she adds. “We feel that our prints, coupled with the interactive tools that we’ve developed, provide the perfect solution.” Aside from the interesting selection of museum quality prints, what makes this site unique and fun is the technology behind its “Digital Gallery Wall Design Studio,” created to allow users to manipulate a pre-assembled collection, create their own curated collection from scratch or simply customize an individual piece. Framing, matting and wall background color can all be adjusted to produce a custom look that perfectly embodies the homeowner. One of Artfully Walls’ most helpful tools is the “Try on Wall” mobile app that allows users to virtually view their favorite art choices on their own home walls before purchasing, thus removing the difficult guess work associated with assembling most gallery walls. Whether you end up hanging a single piece or tackling a gallery wall composition, keep in mind that your art should reflect you so refrain from selecting something that you don’t love. Also, keep a thread of continuity running through your space by hanging everything (single piece or composition) 60 to 62 inches from finished floor to the center (excluding mantles and space above headboards) so that disparate pieces on different walls will still talk to each other, ensuring that your room feels pulled together. With free in-home design consultations and art delivered to your front door, you don’t even have to get in the car to update your home for the holiday season! And after you’re ensconced on that newly reupholstered sofa, surrounded by new drapery and art you love, you may decide to forego entertaining this holiday season altogether. Even if you elect to just peacefully hibernate inside your perfectly cozy abode this winter, rest assured that you’ll be doing it in style. Vern Yip is an interior designer and star of “Bang for Your Buck” and “Live in Vern’s House” on HGTV. Originally from McLean, Va., Yip is based in Atlanta and New York. Follow him on Facebook (Vern Yip/Artist) and Twitter and Instagram (both @VernYipDesigns). His column appears occasionally in The Washington Post.