House Proud – A Woman For All Seasons, The Toronto Sun

Decor mavens tout the concept every autumn: they say it’s time to bring out your heavier linens, replace your bedspread with a comforter and trade fresh flowers in vases with dried grasses and reeds.

This approach to decorating has its roots in, well, roots. The idea is to make your inside reflect the outside. If spring is blooming all over, then your home gets light and airy in response. When the days are shorter and outdoor greenery begins to wither, make the inside cozier with knit throws on couches and darker colours and heavier fibres as accents.

There is only one problem with this notion: not all of us have enough storage room for replacement sheets, pillowcases, towels, throw pillows, rugs and curtains, much less pieces of furniture, large or small.

Space is at a premium in my home. I buy very few things in bulk because there’s no place handy to keep them, so the thought of having to roll up my summer area rug and haul out a winter one makes my head spin on its axis. It’s just not realistic. I also like to be surrounded by the things I love and not pack them away to enjoy at a date to be named later.

So I mostly keep the same stuff out and about no matter the season. My home is — I hope — comfortable and contemporary, but more classic than in-the-moment. I tend to buy my accessories with one of two deliberate mindsets. In the first, they are inexpensive and trendy so that when I tire of them they can be replaced without any guilt or great sense of loss. Category two involves items of better quality and purchased with an aim of keeping them for as long as we both shall remain unbroken. Sometimes a certain doodad can have a foot in both worlds. I get an unusual number of compliments for a couple of small, framed ceramic faces I found by accident at a dollar store many years ago while killing some time between appointments. I try not to respond to the kudos with, “I found those in a dollar store!” The praise is more satisfying when their origin is just my little secret. They fool the eye into believing they’re valuable artifacts. I believe the thrill I experienced upon discovering them is what scientists are now calling a “storegasm.”

The closest I come to rotating items for the seasons is pulling out a couple more knit throws from inside my leather storage bench, and that’s more for practicality than ambience. I like to curl up on a sofa, under a throw, with a tea, and read — an activity that’s more suited to colder weather. Otherwise, my cushions, rugs and linens are essentially all-season. By keeping most of my major furniture in neutral shades, I can easily add or subtract an accessory with a wintery tone if I want, but when I do, something else has to go. It’s one in, one out, or my home would eventually look like a knick-knack store — and that’s a no-no for an anti-clutter freak such as me.

If you’re blessed with ample storage space and a healthy disposable income, by all means put away the yellows and brights and replace them with burnt oranges and deeper shades for the autumn and winter. An acquaintance of mine actually purchases two of everything in her home (except for large furniture) and packs the twin away, just in case the item on display ever gets wrecked. She lives alone in a large house and has lots of room.

It’s part practicality and part preference that I live year-round among all the things I love — or, rather, let them live with me. It’s difficult to enjoy something when it’s packed in a box under the stairs.