Sim­ple ways to cheer up your home in win­ter

Add soft, flat­ter­ing light, re­flec­tive el­e­ments and new plants to warm up your space

The Hamilton Spectator - - STYLE - MELISSA RAYWORTH

Dur­ing these chilly and grey days of mid­win­ter, many of us look to our homes as sanc­tu­ar­ies.

The stan­dard ad­vice for cheer­ing up your liv­ing space is to add a few splashes of bright, happy colour, says de­signer Maxwell Ryan.

But while that may seem like an easy so­lu­tion, he says, it’s ac­tu­ally not very ef­fec­tive. To cre­ate a home that re­ally helps bat­tle the mid-win­ter blues, you need more than just a pop of colour.

The As­so­ci­ated Press asked Ryan, founder of the home decor web­site apart­ment­ther­, and two other in­te­rior de­sign­ers — Florida-based Laura Burleson and New York-based Jenny Kirschner — for ad­vice on small decor changes that can lift spir­its and brighten up a home.

Bring na­ture in

In Fe­bru­ary, many peo­ple are crav­ing time out­doors and miss­ing the nat­u­ral en­ergy of grow­ing plants and flow­ers, Ryan says.

“We’ve watched our plants die out­side or the leaves fall from the trees,” and we’re due for an in­fu­sion of healthy, grow­ing life, he adds.

So add a few new plants to your home — per­haps suc­cu­lents ar­ranged in a kitchen win­dow, or flow­er­ing branches in a large vase.

Or plant flow­er­ing bulbs in­doors in a large, deep bowl (try pa­per­whites or amaryl­lis) and en­joy tend­ing them as they be­gin to bloom.

“Even if you just go to the cor­ner store and bring in cut flow­ers,” Ryan says, you’ll be adding a bit of na­ture’s en­ergy to your home.

Shim­mer and glow

Add “a lit­tle glim­mer of light” to your liv­ing space, Burleson says, by adding shiny el­e­ments like met­als, cut glass and Lucite. These help nat­u­ral light bounce around a room even when days are short. The goal is to make the most of what light there is.

In a home in Colorado, she re­cently swapped out old kitchen hard­ware for shim­mer­ing clear agate knobs, and in­cluded metal­lic el­e­ments in a mix of fin­ishes.

Burleson also sug­gests adding met­als in warm colours that “hint of spring,” such as cop­per, brass and rose gold.

All three de­sign­ers sug­gest im­prov­ing the happy glow of your home by swap­ping out any bulbs that of­fer cold or harsh light. Kirschner says hard­ware store em­ploy­ees can help you find the most ap­peal­ing “day­light bulbs” to bring a sense of sunshine in dur­ing grey win­ter days.

Or con­sider swap­ping out old lamp­shades or adding a new lamp.

“Spread your light around down at the level you live at,” Ryan says, so that it’s “closer to you, closer to your face. You’ll look bet­ter and feel bet­ter.”

De­sign­ers rec­om­mend hav­ing at least three points of light in any room. Once you have plenty of light sources, make sure you use them by adding dim­mers for con­trol, and up­grad­ing so that sev­eral lights can be turned on from a sin­gle knob or switch.

Ryan has be­gun us­ing Hue bulbs, which can be con­trolled by smart­phone and ad­justed for bright­ness and colour.

“My liv­ing room has five lights in it,” he says, and they’re now eas­ily con­trolled via his smart­phone. He notes that if he had to switch each one on in­di­vid­u­ally af­ter ar­riv­ing home on win­ter nights, “it prob­a­bly wouldn’t hap­pen.”

Another way to make a room’s light­ing more wel­com­ing: light your fire­place if you have one, Kirschner says, or cre­ate a sim­i­lar feeling by clus­ter­ing glass hurricane vases with pil­lar can­dles in­side. Ar­range sev­eral to­gether on a cof­fee ta­ble, she says, “and light those when you come home from work.”

Faux fur and fra­grance

It’s easy to cre­ate an up­lift­ing sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence in your home by adding faux sheep­skins, faux-fur throws, and rugs or pil­lows made of cash­mere or soft wool, says Kirschner.

Ryan agrees: make sure you have pleas­ing tex­tures around you, he says, in­clud­ing un­der­foot. Lit­tle touches can make a big dif­fer­ence. Try adding a sheep­skin or soft blan­ket over a chair that you use when work­ing at home.

Kirschner also sug­gests adding pleas­ing fra­grances to your space. Choose or­gan­i­cally scented can­dles, or sim­ply take items from your kitchen (lemon and or­ange slices, cloves and nut­meg, or other fruits and spices) and steep them in wa­ter in a heat-safe con­tainer over a vo­tive or tea light can­dle.

In­spir­ing words

Sev­eral years ago, Burleson dec­o­rated a home of­fice with the up­lift­ing words “Don’t Ever Let Any­one Dull Your Sparkle” printed in a sub­tle shade of gold in a del­i­cate brass frame. It serves as “a very, very sim­ple, el­e­gant lit­tle pick-me-up,” she says.


Florida-based in­te­rior de­signer Laura Burleson used gold-tone metal hard­ware, ac­ces­sories and light­ing to bring a warm glow to this home of­fice, then added a cosy throw blan­ket and flow­ers to make this prac­ti­cal space feel brighter and more cheer­ful.

In a room de­signed by Florida-based in­te­rior de­signer Laura Burleson, these up­lift­ing words are printed in a sub­tle shade of gold and el­e­gantly framed in pale gold metal.

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