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WARMING UP TO THE BIG COOLDOWN <br> FORGET MERELY FACING COLD WEATHER. WE'RE EMBRACING IT -- WITH STYLE

Autumn -- the official season of busy anticipation -- has arrived in Western New York.

Like the diligent ants in the fable, everyone hurries to get ready. Put the cover on the pool. Stack the firewood. Check the furnace and clean the storm windows.

Because we all know what follows.

Winter.

Whether that grim fact elicits a groan or grin depends on your frame of mind -- and perhaps whether you own skis.

But it also depends on your home.

Winter can seem endless in Western New York. There are years when snow drifts onto Halloween pumpkins and Easter tulips. But if you've made your house or apartment a comfy haven, say so long to cabin fever.

Budgets shouldn't matter. Even with a slim wallet, you can still feather -- or rearrange -- your nest to maximize the comfort and beauty of your surroundings. It's all about cheering up with color. Warming up with texture. Letting in the light.

To help get you started on the road to making your home more pleasant this winter, FIRST SUNDAY's Home and Design section has pulled together an eye-popping collection of Western New homes that epitomize the comfy tone of the best fall and winter living. Think roaring fires, cozy throws in light-as-air fleece and deep sofas covered in rich chenille or nubby silk, perfect for reading or dreaming the evening away.

Join Home and Design as we share fabulous tactics that may convert even avowed beach bunnies to bona fide winter lovers.

We're not merely facing cold weather; we're embracing it -- with style.