Creating a winter garden: from a second living room to a Feng Shui oasis

Torben Schröder

Enjoy bright sunlight and feel close to nature – even in the colder months of the year: unlike a patio, a winter garden is a place of well-being all year round. Depending on how you furnish it, it can be even more: a second living room, a study or a relaxation room furnished according to Feng Shui teachings. Choose colors, materials, furniture and plants according to your own ideas or to suit a certain style. In this article we give you tips on what you can do with your winter garden.

View of a winter garden decorated with garlands and plants. Several people are sitting together inside.
© Getty Images / Maskot

In this article

Assess the conditions

If you have already built a winter garden as an extension to your house, the next logical step is to furnish it. We familiarize you with a few important factors below.

  • Location: if your winter garden is located on the south side of the house, it will be exposed to very strong sunlight. Under certain circumstances you can save heating costs in winter. In summer, however, you must ventilate thoroughly and provide additional shade if necessary, for example with blinds. Reversely, a north-facing winter garden requires more heating.
  • Cold or warm : a cold winter garden is usually not heated and therefore tends to be uninhabitable in the colder months. You can use it to store plants. A warm winter garden, on the other hand, is heated and well insulated. Thanks to a constant temperature of more than 20 degrees, you have more furnishing options.

Other points to consider

Irrespective of the intended purpose, here are a few general furnishing tips that you should bear in mind.

  • Furniture: the pieces of furniture in a winter garden are exposed to special conditions: Due to the high levels of UV radiation, plastic may bleach out. Metal furniture on the other hand will heat up quickly. A resistant material like rattan is therefore ideal.
  • Ground: robust materials such as concrete slabs or patio boards are perfect for a cold winter garden. In a warm winter garden, you basically have the same possibilities as in a normal house: tiles, vinyl, wood, natural stone, laminate or even carpet.
  • Bird control: this measure has two objectives. The first is to protect birds from themselves by sticking silhouettes of hunting birds on the glass as a deterrent, or alternatively, by installing plastic imitation birds. Secondly, you can also protect the facade from bird droppings by attaching spikes to the edge of the roof, i.e. pointed elements that the birds won’t settle on.
Interior view of a winter garden with light brown seats and a variety of green plants.

You can furnish your winter garden like a second living room with comfortable furniture and a floor that is pleasant to walk on.

Define its purpose

If you don’t simply want to use the space to store appliances, the question is: what exactly DO you want to use it for? We present various possibilities here.

A second living room

Watching the stars with your partner, eating with your family or spending a cozy evening playing games with friends – you can use your winter garden quite simply to organize your leisure time. To give your winter garden a certain charisma, choose a suitable furnishing style – from maritime to modern. This does not necessarily have to correspond to the rest of your house, because the winter garden is supposed to be a very special place. We give you some ideas for possible furnishing styles below.

  • Maritime: this style is dominated by the typical seafarer colors of blue, red and white. Make use of this combination for upholstery and furniture. A wooden table in a vintage look blends in perfectly, as do beach chairs or recliners. To decorate you can use ship ropes, fishing nets, shells and pictures of sea animals.
  • Country house style: opt for materials and colors that are as natural as possible to create the charm of a country villa in a green setting: dark wood, ceramic, stone and clay. Wood strip flooring provides authentic comfort. The decoration is a mixture of antique objects and shabby chic.
  • Modern: this style emphasizes the straightforwardnness of the room, with less decorative elements. You can achieve transparency with large areas of glazing and light tones.
  • Exotic: evoking a feeling of longing, transporting yourself to faraway countries and regions – that’s what an exotically furnished winter garden will do. For a Japanese style, put up box trees, lanterns, a small fountain and Buddha figures, for example. For an oriental style, on the other hand, you will need oriental lamps, a canopy, carpets, chests and floor vases.

A hobby room

Think carefully beforehand whether you want to transform your winter garden into a special room. Changing your mind could mean a lot of extra work. Once appropriately furnished, your hobby room will give you a lot of enjoyment. Here are three ideas.

  • Reading: switch off from the world with a good book, and escape from reality. The best way to create this atmosphere is with minimalist interior design that gives space to the landscape around the winter garden. Shelves for books are of course just as much a part of it as seating. A floor lamp ensures a cozy atmosphere in the evening hours. A hot drink and pastries can be made available on a tea trolley.
  • Exercising: set up your own gym. A treadmill, a cross trainer and weights will keep you in shape. You can do yoga or gymnastics exercises on floor mats. Installing a locker to keep equipment, clothes and towels in makes exercising easier. You can keep motivation levels high with music from a hi-fi system.
  • Being creative: the excellent lighting conditions make the winter garden particularly suitable as a creative space for painters. If you have enough space, you can also present your works of art on the walls.
A young woman is sitting in a winter garden in front of a white couch, leafing through a book.

Just relax and read a good book or a gossip magazine – one of many ways you can use your winter garden.

A study

Working at home has taken on a whole new meaning. Which makes it all the more important that you can do your work in a suitably furnished room like the winter garden. The view into the adjoining garden reduces stress or prevents it from building up in the first place. Opt for a simple interior. A desk, an office chair and cupboards for storing files are all you need. You should also ensure that the direct sunlight on your workspace is not too bright.

A Feng Shui room

If you long for a particular kind of relaxation and want to transform the space into an oasis of peace, then furnish it according to the principles of the Chinese Feng Shui teachings. They can be combined with any style. It’s more about following principles. The aim is to let the invisible life energy, the Chi, flow in the room. To make this happen, great importance is attached to keeping things tidy and not having too many accessories. Uniform lighting keeps the energy moving just as much as mirrors and glass surfaces.

A natural paradise

For anyone who loves flowers, trees and plants, a winter garden offers an additional place to give free rein to their passion – even in the colder months of the year. The type of your winter garden plays a role in this: do you have a heated warm winter garden or an unheated cold one? We present suitable plants for both types below.

  • Cold: plants that need the peace and quiet of winter to grow will feel at home here, i.e. those that depend on plenty of light and protection from the weather. Don’t forget to air and water the house regularly despite the cold temperature. Acacias, cacti and olive trees are ideal for a cold winter garden. They like sunshine, but don’t need much watering in winter.
  • Warm: due to the higher temperatures, normal indoor plants and even tropical plants thrive here. You could even try planting mangos, for example. This sweet fruit is not usually compatible with the Central European climate, but in a heated winter garden, it feels comfortable at a constant 15 degrees.

Conclusion: just the way you want it

How you furnish your winter garden depends on what you want to do in it. Do you just want to spend your free time in it all year round? Then design it like a living room. Or would you rather pursue your hobby? Then a more specific set-up is usually necessary. But no matter what you decide on, you are guaranteed to spend many a pleasant hour in your winter garden.

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