Tips for Brightening your Home to Cure the Winter Blues

Winter can be pretty gloomy especially in Chicago where I am based.  Waking up in the dark and getting home in the dark doesn’t help.   Light or the lack of it, affects how we feel, our mood and energy levels.  There is even a medical condition called SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, which  is caused by the disruption low light levels cause to our bodies’ circadian rhythm.

Read on to hear how you can brighten your home to make the most of natural light and enjoy a feeling of brightness and increased energy even without it.

Using color to brighten your home

You may think that your home will feel lighter and brighter if you use white or a pale color on the walls.  Not so.  Your room may just feel cold which is just what you don’t want in the middle of winter.

Bright pillows and accents for your home
Open windows with bright punches of color. Courtesy of

You may not look out your windows and see green but you can introduce green into your home decor.  The color green reminds us of the outdoors and comes in many different hues.  Choose bright saturated greens in small doses or calming but brilliant turquoise or teal green to add richness.  Paired with ivory, white or other pale colors, apple or emerald green adds a feeling of freshness and light.

Many people are frightened to use bright colors on their walls because they can be overwhelming.  Intense saturated colors are very on trend right now but you do need to make sure to carry the color around the room in different ways to maintain balance and harmony.  This can be done by adding accent pillows or throws to sofas and chairs and changing lamp shades as shown in the picture above.  Of course, adding greenery in the form of live or fake plants is one of the easiest ways to introduce the color.

Envelope your whole room in a color that reminds you of the sea bathed in sunlight

Farrow and Ball have a wonderful selection of greens, ranging from Cooking Apple green to Vardo, a gorgeous turquoise reminiscent of the ocean.  Their paints are heavily pigmented with an interesting depth and complexity,  making them look different in changing light. Imagine waking up or coming home to this enchanting color!

Living Room painted in teal and turquoise
Rich teals and turquoise envelope this room painted in Farrow and Ball Vardo

Bounce the light around your room with mirrors

Mirrors reflect light and strategically placed they can increase the light in a gloomy space, especially if located opposite or near a window.  You don’t have to limit the placement of mirrors to over the fireplace or by your front door.

However, avoid placing a large mirror in a dining room or living room in such a position that you or your guests may sit and feel uncomfortable seeing their reflection in the mirror.  Antiqued mirror or divided mirrors can lesson their impact in this situation.  See the picture below.

There are many decorative mirrors available now that look more like artwork for your walls!  Mirrored furniture, like this nightstand, will also add reflective light as well as a touch of glamor.

bedroom with decorative mirror and mirrored furniture
A mirror strategically placed to reflect light. Courtesy of

In the past, when we didn’t have electricity, mirrors were used  to reflect light in less obvious and clever ways.  For example, mirrors can even be added high up in a room with a high ceiling or above a door to appear like a transom window, where no window is possible.

When deciding where to place a mirror, you always need to consider the image that will be reflected in any mirror but you would not have to at this height.

Mirrored transom window above door
Mirrored transom above door. Pinterest
green decorative glass in transom window
Here is a real decorative transom window which would allow more light into a dark space.



Add layers of light at different heights with wall lights, floor Lamps and table lamps

If you only have one ceiling light then make it a glass or crystal chandelier.  All those crystals reflect the light and that is why chandeliers were popular in the past.  Glass chandeliers do not need to look dated and can look wonderful in a contemporary space.

contemporary chandelier and mirror in modern home
An oversized contemporary chandelier. Pinterest

The amount and distribution of artificial light in a room can have a big impact on the feeling of a room and the mood of its occupants!  This can be most noticeable in winter.

If you can add wall lights then this is often an excellent solution for distributing light more evenly around the space so that it is not just centered in the room.  If you cannot add wall lights to an existing circuit then a tall floor lamp or even a pair of floor lamps are a good alternative. Using a dimmer switch is also important to allow you to use layers of light to create different moods and intensities of light for the right situation.

Wall lights brighten fireplace in Chicago living room
Wall lights highlight the wallpaper in this Chicago living room. Design by TDF interiors

Upgrade your table lamps and take the opportunity to increase their impact and reflectivity with a jewel like glass lamp base.  There are many beautiful colored glass lamps available in numerous vivid colors, from purple to orange.

Contemporary luxury with beautiful teal glass lamp in this living room design by award winning ASID Interior Designer Tina Dann-Fenwick in Lake Forest Chicago area
Glass table lamp base. TDF interiors
Contemporary luxury in this Living Room design by award winning ASID Interior Designer Tina Dann-Fenwick in Lake Forest Chicago area,
A turquoise jewel like glass table lamp reflects light from the window. TDF interiors

Use sheer fabrics for your window treatments

In the above design, heavy brown drapes were replaced with soft sheers to create a feeling of light and freshness in this contemporary Chicago living room.  The mix of light colored neutrals for the walls and sofas is kept warm with plenty of texture and punches of vibrant orange and turquoise in artwork and accent pillows.