Local Experts Share Top Design Trends for Winter

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A few interior design experts share their top design trends for winter and how to prepare your nest for the chilly season ahead

design trends for winter by Katherine Gianakos
Katherine Gianakos with her family’s Labrador retriever, Hugo, one of the namesakes of her interior design firm.

By Morgan Cartier Weston | Photography by John Michael Simpson

Instant Cozy

Thick, plush fabrics, whether draped over a bed or couch, or even in a new set of curtains, provide an immediate signal of comfort. “When I think about the winter months, I envision mountain lodges with soft lighting, fuzzy pillows and cozy throws,” says designer Laura Koshel of LK Design.

Faux fur, velvet, flannel and bouclé textures are not just on trend, they are also a quick and affordable way to make you feel extra comfortable while sipping that hot cup of tea on a cool evening. “Add throw blankets to every sofa and bed,” says Carrie Moore of Carrie Moore Interior Design. “Having a cozy blanket nearby can be extremely warming and comforting.” Carrie also recommends washable, removable pillow covers to change things up each season without breaking the bank.

Katherine Gianakos, co-owner of Max Hugo Interior Design, advises bringing nature inside for a touch of warmth during the chilly days ahead. She shops locally at Perkins Orchard and TROSA’s holiday locations for trees, wreaths and garlands, and at Floral Dimensions and Ninth Street Flowers for real floral arrangements. “We’re lucky to have so much local talent here in Durham,” Katherine says. “I love shopping at Christmas markets around town to find unique, handcrafted decorations, like the wooden houses on the mantle.” Max Hugo also carries stunning silk florals that can be brought out year after year.

When you’re ready to transition from tea or coffee to something stronger, Katherine suggests choosing a signature cocktail for extra winter merriment. Her pick for holiday entertaining? A spiced apple hot toddy.

2021 design trends for winter
Lighten Up

Colder months mean shorter days, and sometimes, gloomy skies. With daylight waning and windows shut tight against the cold, indoor air quality can suffer. Low-light plants like those offered by The Zen Succulent can provide a breath of fresh air – literally – to any space.

Laura advises using a variety of light sources with dimmable white bulbs to keep spirits bright. “A color temperature in the 2,700-3,000 kelvins range, combined with light dimmers, will achieve a pleasant glow without the sterile feeling often associated with white bulbs,” she says.

Carrie recommends adding candles, too. “Burning a candle gives the psychological feeling of fire and warmth, and can be a nice morning or evening ritual,” she says. “Light a candle and set an intention for the day, remember someone you love or just enjoy the hygge mood they give.” Her team’s local favorites are Bright Black scented candles or hand-dipped tapers from Bowerbird Flowers & Apothecary, which inject a dose of color as well. Carrie also recommends using old-school matches from Indio instead of modern lighters for an extra comfy vibe.

Portable, rechargeable LED lights are also trending this year. “We’re big fans,” Carrie says. “These lights can move around the house, wherever a little more light is needed, so they’re also great for porches and outdoor spaces.” To add more warmth, try candle holders or light fixtures with timeless wooden accents.

Already have the natural look covered? Katherine also adds metallic touches to her winter decor to help elevate organic textures. Try gold-rimmed cocktail glasses, mirrored trays or a spray of gilded accents in your floral arrangements to help catch and reflect the light throughout your home.

Interior Investments

If you’ve checked all the above off your list and want to go the extra mile to add comfort to your interiors, the Carrie Moore Interior Design team has a few ideas: “There’s a luxurious line of heated furniture from a California company called Galanter & Jones,” Carrie says. “We’ve tried these firsthand and they do not disappoint.”

For those with tile or concrete floors, installing a radiant heating mechanism underneath will make for happy feet all winter long. For a less invasive, but still luxe, experience, try a towel warmer. “They’re not only good for providing a hot towel, but for drying your towel quickly and keeping it fresh,” Carrie says. Towel warmers come free-standing or wall-mounted and can be plugged in or hardwired, so it’s easy to find one that suits any home.

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Morgan Weston

Durham Magazine freelancer Morgan Weston is a North Carolina native who loves exploring the Triangle's diverse food, arts and craft beer offerings.

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