How to Decorate Your Vacation Home for Winter

If you’re planning your big yearly trip out to your cabin or vacation home, you’re going to want to start thinking about how you want to decorate this year. Winter usually makes us want to settle down in a cozy and comfortable environment—but that doesn’t have to mean un-stylish. Whether your vacation home, rental, or cabin is in a warm climate or whether it’s out in the cold, decorating can be a great way to make it feel like home – even if you’re only staying for a few days or weeks.

Maximize Sleeping Space

Don’t suck up all of the room in your house trying to find places for everyone to sleep. For instance, if you have multiple children, turn one room into a bunk room and fill it with as many beds as possible. While it might feel like close quarters for the first night, it will be more fun to have the rest of the house to roam around in if you consolidate the sleeping area.

maximizing room in a cabin

Along with this idea, make sure you have lots of warm blankets and pillows for the sleeping room. Even if your spot is relatively warm during the day, it can still get cold at night and nothing says “winter” like lots of big, fluffy blankets.

Make sure to stock the closets with classic board games, cards, and other fun games!

Keep It Light

While you do want the place to feel warm and cozy, consider lightening up the paint or wood in your rooms, so the entire cabin doesn’t start to feel too claustrophobic. Dark colors can make the rooms seem smaller and because the space is likely already smaller than what you’re used to, you don’t want to make it feel any smaller than it already is.

white walls and accents in cabin room

Switch out dark accents like tables and chairs for natural, light wood ones or paint your walls a clean white. These will be the perfect backdrop for cozier touches like dark, plush rugs, blankets, and furniture. Plain white walls might feel a little too sterile at first, but with the right furniture, they can be extremely welcoming and help fight cabin fever.

Fireplace

If your place wasn’t built with a fireplace—you’re in luck. You can easily install a fireplace, no chimney required. There are also wall-mounted heaters that look just like fireplaces that can make any room in your home or cabin feel much homier and much more like the winter getaway that it is.

These fireplaces put out real heat, too, so you can stay cozy and warm, without even turning on your central heating. Even if the fire isn’t real, the heat will be, so you can gather around the fire and talk about your days and how nice it is to have a beautiful, warm fireplace in your cabin. 

While nothing can replace a real fire – not having to maintain a faux fire has its perks:

  • No clean up
  • Not having to gather wood
  • No need for chimney sweeper
  • No carbon monoxide
  • No risk of fire damage


Bring the Outside In

If your cabin or rental is out in the woods, there’s nothing better than bringing some of the outdoors inside. Real wood accents are a must and you can never go wrong with rustic, real wood. Whether it’s in the form of furniture, wall paneling, or other decorative touches (like actual wood logs), making the outside part of the inside is a great way to add some Adirondack flair to your place.

For a stylish cabin, you just can’t go wrong with a nice balance of wood and white accents!

If you like to leave out bowls of spices or flower petals, you can add pine cones and pine leaves to the mix for a nice touch. It will also give off that great woodsy pine scent – few things evoke the natural element of a cabin quite like the smell of fresh pine.

 

Insulate stylishly

Like the rest of the home during winter, the floor will probably be cold as well. If you have hard floors, invest in some long area rugs. They will add some instant pop to the room, while also keeping your feet cozy.

While a natural rawhide area rug like the one above looks great, don’t feel confined to natural looking rugs. A white faux fur area rug would also look great in that space – and lighten things up at night.


Make Sure You’re Well Lit

The best way to stave off cabin fever and the bad mood that sometimes comes along with shorter winter days, is to make sure you have plenty of lighting in your cabin. Make sure you have at least one room that is well-lit, so if you ever just need some light, even if it’s already dark outside, you can always find it. This could be your library, you kitchen, or even the sleeping space.

I find that it’s much easier to furnish the rest of the cabin, and then focus on lighting. You’ll know what type of accent you need, and how much light. Ideally, cabin lighting should provide both form and function.

Open the Windows

It might be tempting to make your rooms look and feel more like home by adding heavy drapes to the window—but then you’ll be trapping out the beautiful winter vistas! Consider leaving your windows uncovered. If you’re out in the woods, you’ll have plenty of privacy (except for the odd deer wandering past), and you’ll be able to take in the majesty of trees and the snow.

 

Doesn’t that look more invigorating than a regular dull and dark cabin? Comfortable and cozy are the priority of any cabin – but that’s mainly at night. During the day you want to maximize what little day light is available.


Utilize Outdoor Space

Just because it’s chilly outside doesn’t mean you can’t take full advantage of the outdoors. Set up a fire pit and bundle up around it to roast some marshmallows – or better yet, enjoy a cigar and some bourbon (or scotch).

Because of the insulating properties of snow, it’s not as cold outside during a winter night as you think. A 30 degree night with snow can often feel warmer than a 50 degree windy night without snow.

A roaring fire isn’t just visually pleasing, it has a calming effect as well. 

Go for a Country Vibe

Winter is the perfect time to bring in bold, rustic colors and elements. From southwestern print blankets, to mounted animal heads above your fireplace, they’ll look great with the natural wood and they will make your vacation home feel like a real winter cabin.

You don’t have to necessarily go with decorations in their natural state. Painted, or even faux animal heads can look great – even stylish!

Final thoughts

I see a lot of vacation homes being decorated as a smaller version of the owner’s primary home. Half of the fun of a getaway is the experience of new scenery. While there’s nothing wrong with copying elements of your home in the cabin or vacation house, feel free to get creative and give the vacation home its own identity.

You’ll probably enjoy it more, and want to escape far more often.

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