Simple ways to perk up your winter exterior

STYLE AT HOME

By Mary Carol Garrity Published:

Scripps Howard News Service

There's a bittersweet feeling for most of us when the holiday decorations come down, but the end of the season doesn't mean that your house must be bare and empty.

Here are some ways to brighten your home for the rest of the winter.

Let's start on the outside, because no matter what time of year it is, you want your home's exterior to be lovely.

It's easy to keep your outdoor spaces from looking like a sad, frozen wasteland with these easy tricks. I start by building exterior holiday displays filled with winter greens and accents that are generic enough to stay up until the crocuses push through the snow.

On Jan. 1, when I'm ready to transition to a more general winter look, I just remove the overly holiday themed decor. I'm done in minutes, and back inside with a hot cup of tea.Don't leave your garden urns sad and lonely all winter long. Fill them with winter greens until it's time for the spring planting.

For a simple yet lovely display that will give your home a welcome pop of color during the winter, fill a black iron urn with a no-frills bouquet of faux greenery and berries. If you want, you can easily punch it up by inserting a garden statue.

Concrete planters are another versatile touch for a front porch. Fill them with displays that look festive enough for the holidays, yet generic enough so that they can stay until it's planting season again.

Big fat silver gazing balls placed on premade winter wreaths that have a wild, woodsy feel look sensational dotted with fall leaves and dusted with winter snow and ice. In fact, these orbs are so timeless, you could leave them up all year long if you want to.

Do you have a birdbath or fountain you can fill with greens this winter? Try topping the birdbath with an old faux pine wreath and insert a statue or gazing ball.

It will add charm to your garden all winter long. Winter lanterns -- wire or otherwise -- will add an inviting touch to an exposed porch or patio during the harsh winter months.

All it takes to "cute" them up for January and February is to tuck in a few winter greens. Try putting a pillar

See Winter, D9

candle on a bed of faux pine branches along with a tiny bouquet of pine, holly and berries with a wintry bow.

I'd recommend filling winter lanterns with battery operated candles that use timers or remote controls, since it's no fun to go out in the deep freeze to light a candle, which will almost certainly blow out in the winter breeze.

A simple lantern can also be used like a display box. Fill it with whimsical things -- a bird's nest, a votive candle or a tiny string of lights to brighten that dark January landscape.

The focal point of your home's exterior, your front door is one of the most important places to decorate for the winter months. It's another place where you can modify your holiday display, by keeping your winter greens, taking down the overt holiday decor, and replacing it with a pretty winter ribbon.

Punching up your patio is the final step. Depending upon where you live, you might be able to leave your patio furniture cushions out during the winter.

If you can, do. Punchy plaid textiles will add color and warmth to the bare vista of your January garden, and soften up the iron furniture. Bring them in when it snows or rains, but when the sun is shining, they will be a welcome sight out there in the frozen garden.

The column has been adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at www.nellhills.com. She can be reached at marycarol@nellhills.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, shns.com.

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