When winter’s short daylight hours start to feel oppressive, it’s time to brighten your home to keep the doldrums at bay. Here are tips to spread cheer throughout your house when the deep freeze settles in.
By Carol Brock
Merry & Bright
Lighting is important when the days grow darker. Different light bulbs cast different types of light. There are warm white, soft white, bright and daylight light bulbs, just to name a few. Bulb types include incandescents, LEDs, halogens and CFLs. Then there are watts, lumens and the Kelvin scale to consider. Light’s complicated! That’s why Boulder interior designer Barbee James of Details Design Studio suggests you consult with a lighting expert when choosing bulbs for your home. “Don’t just buy them from a store, because the industry’s evolving so fast and you want to get the right type of light for every room,” James says.
Vary fixtures as well as bulbs. Torchères, sconces, cans, fairy lights, track lights, lamps and other lights cast different types of light. For instance, overhead lights amplify light by casting it over a wider area, while wall-mounted lights can yield a more inviting light. A well-designed lighting scheme should layer light from different sources, and fire-free electric candles are glowing additions to any room.
Plants Are Perfect
You can’t beat fresh flowers in winter, so head to the florist and pick up a few bouquets to perk up your home. Potted plants are mood elevators, too, so generously spread greenery throughout rooms. Be sure to follow the recommended light requirements for each plant, or consider faux options. Low-light plants include dracaena, ponytail plant, zebra plant, prayer plant, fittonia, snake plant, spider plant, philodendron, bromeliad and fiddle leaf fig. Steer clear of dieffenbachia, jade plant and pothos if you have pets; they can be poisonous if consumed.
Bold Is Beautiful
Art makes us happy, and vibrantly colored art makes us even happier on dark days. Choose a few bold artworks to hang in your commonly used areas and let their colors brighten your day.
Nothing beats mirrors and metal for bouncing light around a room, so hang mirrors anywhere you need a nice bounce. “Try not to place mirrors directly across from a window or door,” James says. “According to feng shui principles, those placements sap the energy from a house.” Embrace metallic gold and silver bric-a-brac and pots, and pressed-tin ceiling tiles and backsplashes are pretty, reflective accents in any room.
Grime builds up quickly in winter, so a thorough cleaning is essential to keeping a space bright and cheerful. Pay special attention to dusting, as dust casts a pall on everything it touches. Be sure to dust fixtures like chandeliers, so they can spread light more effectively. “People don’t realize that dust collects on light bulbs, too, so dust them when the lamps are turned off,” James says.
Light = Right
Dark rugs can make a room feel small and dreary, so swap them out for lighter versions. If you have hardwood floors, you can ditch some rugs and let the sun shine off the planks to help brighten your space. The same goes for curtains and furniture—lighter is brighter. If your furniture is dark, consider investing in inexpensive light-colored slipcovers.
On mild days, it’s nice to open a window to let in fresh air, but those days are few and far between in winter. Screens block a surprising amount of light, so it’s a good time to clean, remove and store screens on windows you won’t open until spring, while reserving a few for random warm winter days. While you’re at it, clean glass windows and doors inside and out to let the scarce sunlight do its best job to light up your home.
Pops of Paint
White paint is the brightest color, of course, and it also makes a room feel larger. But a nice, saturated color pop on an accent wall could make a white room feel even brighter and cheerier. “It’s nice to pick something with a sunny, warmer tone in winter,” says James. “Stay away from grays, dark browns, dark reds, any dark color. Pastels can bring joy year-round, and colors with a yellow tint to them make people feel better, psychologically.”
If your ceilings are dingy, roll a fresh coat of zero-VOC white paint on them. If you have a smaller windowless space, like a powder room, “Look at Modern Masters Metallic Paint Collection,” James suggests. “Their colors reflect light and make a room look bigger, brighter and elegant.”