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Let winter inspire your rooms

Use the inspiration of frosty winter colors and shimmering, icy textures to create rooms that look gorgeous year-round.
MELISSA RAYWORTH Modified: February 23, 2013 at 6:57 pm •  Published: February 25, 2013
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In much of the country, now's the time when home serves as a cozy refuge from the ice and snow. We light our fireplaces and wish for springtime.

But what if we took the opposite approach, using the inspiration of frosty winter colors and shimmering, icy textures to create rooms that look gorgeous year-round? A winter-inspired room can celebrate the beauty of this season, and also provide a cooling refuge perfect for the spring and summer ahead.

“My clients usually think I've lost my mind when I suggest using winter as a source of inspiration for a cozy bedroom,” said designer Brian Patrick Flynn, founder of decordemon.com. But, he said, “when done right, a combination of layered whites, blue-grays and touches of metallic can add a wintry look that's chic, inviting, surprisingly warm and totally timeless.”

Here, Flynn and two other interior designers — Betsy Burnham of Los Angeles' Burnham Design and Kyle Schuneman of Live Well Designs — offer advice on using winter as a decorating inspiration.

Get reflective

Start with the reflective sheen of ice as your main inspiration, said Flynn. “Use a plethora of reflective surfaces and metallic touches,” he said, including mirrored accent tables and nightstands, as well as mirrored lamps.

Flynn and Schuneman both recommend metallic wallpaper. “One bedroom I designed in California was completely inspired by Candice Olsen's birch bark wallpaper from York Wallcovering,” Flynn said.

“The paper is made from white-toned birch bark, and has a metallic backing which just screams 'winter chic.'”

If you'd prefer painted walls, Schuneman suggests choosing a shade of pale gray or icy blue and buying it in two different finishes — one with a high sheen that almost looks metallic and the other matte. Paint the walls with alternating stripes of each finish.

This use of just a few metallic or mirrored items is a great way to bring in some icy glamour, Schuneman said, “without it becoming the ice princess' dungeon.”

Mirrored and metallic items also maximize light, warming a room even in winter.

“Since trees lose their leaves in the winter, the amount of light that streams in through the window can be double the amount in the spring or summer,” Flynn said. “By the time that gorgeous light hits the reflective surfaces and metallics, the room instantly warms up.”

Burnham also likes mirrored items. A mirrored table “adds a dimension to a room that wood just doesn't,” she said. But she cautions against taking the look too far. If you're buying mirrored end tables, she said, put a ceramic lamp on top rather than a mirrored or glass lamp. Or mix mirrors and chrome with warm shades of ivory, rather than stark whites.

Use a range of colors

“The biggest trick to doing a wintry palette right is to layer, layer, layer,” Flynn said. “I like to stick with an overall white palette, but bring in ultra-white, off-white, cream, blue-white and then add touches of blue-gray. This makes a space soothing and sophisticated, while adding depth.”

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