Winter days are short. Many of them can be dark, gloomy, and full of dramatic weather. Since you’ll probably be spending most of your time indoors to avoid the cold, you might want to make your home as bright and cheery as possible. A few easy and inexpensive changes can make a big difference.
If you aren’t opening your windows, mesh screens aren’t necessary. Before the days get too cold, take them down and store them carefully. You’ll be surprised how much extra light streams through when there isn’t an extra layer dampening the light. This is especially good on sunny days and you can let all the light in and trap that warmth. And with the screens out of the way giving them a good cleaning is easier too.
While you’re already concentrating on your windows, you might want to consider switching your drapes. Curtains with saturated colors and dark patterns will make the room feel darker, because dark colors absorb light. Install lighter-colored curtains in their place for the winter months. Install the new drapes at the edges of your window, to let as much natural light in as possible.
This time, we don’t mean the ornament and tinsel type of trimming! If your trees or shrubs are blocking your windows, they’re blocking light coming through them. Check with your local arborists or Department of Agriculture to find out when it’s best in the winter to prune your trees. Doing so will let more light in and you can enjoy the sun-provided warmth that comes with it.
If light can’t reach your window, it certainly won’t brighten your room. Make sure any bushes or trees cushioning your windows are trimmed regularly, and avoid planting trees on the southern side of your home (as Scandinavian Home Staging explains, the sun will be too high for the trees to provide shade in the summer; in the winter, the foliage will block your windows from solar warmth).
Invest in pale-colored fabrics for your living room furniture—especially the large pieces. The brighter fabric gives off a lighter feel. You can also do this with light-colored tablecloths on your dining room table. They may need to be washed more regularly because pale color reflects light, and until laundry day, they will brighten the room.
Winter is a great time to give attention to the coloring of your home’s light bulbs. In-store displays located under the commercial fluorescent tubes don’t always give an exact approximation of how the bulb will look in your home, in your fixtures. The difference between a warm white, a cool white, and daylight bulb can greatly change the feel and appearance of a room. You might find that some bulbs work better in some rooms than others. Select one of a few different types and compare them in different rooms so you can see how they really look in your home. Also, this is as good of a time as any to upgrade to LED bulbs for efficiency.
Seasonally Scented Candles
If an entire home revamp isn’t in your future this winter, you can just make it smell like you’ve done something new. You can find candles in colors and scents that will change the feel of any room and add some cozy extra lighting.
One of the easiest ways to brighten any room is to add a large mirror to the space. This effectively doubles the amount of light in the room, whether it’s the natural light coming in the windows, the light from the fixtures, or the light from candles and the fireplace. To make the most of it, be sure the mirror reflects the main source of light—the larger the mirror the better!
If you decide you want the light and airy feel all year long, you might want to paint your walls in a lighter color. White, cream, pale blue, or aqua are all good choices. Yellow-based whites and creams will create a slightly warmer effect, while blue- and grey-based white will feel cooler. Deep red walls may seem appropriately cozy for winter, but they may cause you to feel sluggish during the already dark days. If you love cozy colors like rich oranges, browns, and reds, introduce them in accent pieces, like rugs, throws, and pillows or add extra lighting and artwork to lighten up the room.
Bookshelves and Cabinetry
Bookshelves, partitions, and cabinets shouldn’t be parallel to a window. Placing them this way obstructs the light. Carefully consider the flow of daylight and how you want to promote it with your furniture placement.
While you don’t want to go glossy on the walls because of glare, reflective surfaces can play to your advantage when it comes to bouncing light. For a room with limited sunlight, opt for glimmering items like translucent furniture, metallic finishes, and mirrored surfaces such as reflective coffee and accent tables.