A welcoming winter exterior

Home heating and hydro costs are continuing to spiral upwards, leaving many Canadians looking for more cost efficient and environmentally friendly ways to decorate the exterior of their homes for the winter season. Here are some decorating ideas to add a warm and welcoming touch to your home’s exterior without the expense and hassle of putting up holiday lighting.
Your front door is the focal point of your home’s exterior, so plan on a showpiece item here to draw attention and make an impact. Choose a dramatic piece, such as a large winter floral arrangement in a standing urn to place beside the door. You may even have an empty urn already, leftover from your summer plantings. If not, you can still pick them up at garden supply shops at this time of year. Resin or plastic versions are very inexpensive and you can even upgrade their look by painting them with black or copper spray paint to add to the drama. Let the base color dry. Finish the look by applying a colored glaze wash, and then wipe it off, leaving the glaze only in the crevices for a realistic aged effect.
Fill the base of the urn with any weighted material, such as sand or gravel, so it won’t tip over. Fill the remainder with oasis and then top it with decorative ground cover such as Spanish moss, available from any florist or garden store. Decorate your urn just as you would a floral centerpiece. Begin with low-sitting items to form the core of your arrangement. A dramatic choice could be a large decorative cabbage, that’s full of soft green and purple colors. Add some fragrant fresh evergreen branches for height and edging. These can easily be found at this time of year at any Christmas tree lot. Next, fill in with your accent pieces, which can be a collection of real and artificial items. Make sure you add a few tall pieces such as spray-painted twigs or pussy willows to add height and drama. Pine cones, acorns, bunches of dried berries or flowers, clippings from evergreen shrubs and plants in your own gar den will all combine to create the look, with perhaps a few floral picks from the crafts store to add the finishing touch. When choosing your accent pieces, you’d be wise to choose items that aren’t specific to the festive season, so you can enjoy your welcoming display throughout the winter months, and not just for the holidays.
If you’re good at crafting, you may want to create a matching door wreath in similar materials. A simpler, more cost effective alternative is updating your existing wreath by introducing a few of the same elements used in your urn.
You could also create a coordinating swag to place above your front door. Tie a bundle of several evergreen branches together and wire it in the center. Then cover the wiring with a large wired-ribbon bow and a cluster of accent items, and you’ve got an original and high-impact selection of pieces that look beautiful day or night. And if you want to add some illumination to your home’s exterior, you can do it very economically with just one or two strategically placed floodlights.