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Brightening up winters blahs

Maple Ridge designer Camilla Brown shares easy-to-do decor projects that will go a long way to brightening up your home
Camilla Brown

As the fall and winter months set in, and the days get more grey, your house starts to lose some of the cheeriness that plenty of sunshine imparts to any home.

Left untreated, that dullness eventually translates into the winter blahs – a condition that afflicts too many people in the season to come.

Luckily, interior designer Camilla Brown has half a dozen or so inexpensive and easy-to-do home decor projects that will go a long way to brightening up your home and defeating the winter “blahs.”

• De-clutter: the Maple Ridge-based designer suggests the easiest way to begin the brightening process is to de-clutter, particularly in areas that have lots of shiny surfaces like kitchens and bathrooms.

Yes, as strange as that might sound, Brown says getting the stuff off your counters and other reflective surfaces can go a long way to improving the brightness factor in your home.

“Let the gloss from your solid surface counter tops reflect your indoor lighting, creating a brighter environment,” says Brown. “Clutter eats up light and prevents reflection, so the more stuff you clear away, the better.”

She says clutter has a tendency to just happen during the day, so designated de-clutter time – say just before dinner – is a great way for everyone in the family to pitch in and brighten the house in a hurry without a lot of fuss.

• Bring on the “bling”: Inserting more “bling” into your home is also a great way to introduce more brightness, says the designer from West Coast Dream Homes, and it doesn’t have to be all that expensive.

“Add some metallic finishes to any room and you’re going to make it brighter,” she notes, suggesting centerpieces with metallic finishes or other decor pieces placed strategically through the home. “Try a sculpted gold or silver pear as a centerpiece or a metallic or mirrored tray as a place to store your remote controls.”

There are lots of ways to increase the “bling” quotient in a room, and all of them will help reflect whatever natural or artificial light is present to make the room seem brighter.

• Add a splash of colour: Splashes of the right colour, placed strategically in a room, can really brighten things up, Brown suggests.  Get away from browns and blacks, and go with peacock blue, orange, chartreuses, or purple – not the deep purples that absorb light, but the lighter, more vibrant purples. These are hot colours right now, and when you use them in silks or velvets, they really warm up a room as well.

• Let there be light: Sometimes, brightening up a room can be as straightforward and obvious as ensuring the light bulbs are in good condition. One dead or dull bulb can really ratchet down the brightness factor in a room, says Brown, so if you feel there isn’t enough light then make sure all the bulbs are full wattage. Get new bulbs, if necessary, or consider LED white lights for lower energy consumption and brighter light.

You might also want to consider some new pendant lamps for strategic locations in the house – say over a kitchen island or a nook. There are lots of inexpensive options available in a variety of lighting and hardware stores, and the looks are very modern with more glass and more reflective surfaces.

• When in doubt, paint: A coat of paint is the go to option when trying to brighten up a room. There are lots of shades of paint that will brighten a room, and you don’t have to do all the walls.

“A single feature wall can make a dramatic difference in terms of brightness,” says Brown. “Even something like painting the baseboards and other trim will make things much brighter because they tend to get dull and dirty over time.”

• Consider being framed: A quick and easy way to add some brightening effects to the detail in a room is to change the frames of photos and pictures from black or other dark colours to white or light colours. Take several odd-shaped photos, change the frames, and then group them to create an interesting focal point that also makes the room brighter.

• One last idea: Store those darker throws that cover your furniture and invest in some lambskin or faux fur throws that are not only lighter in colour, but also cozy for a cold winter night. After all, snuggling into a lambskin that has the added advantage of making the room cheerier is just the ticket to beat those winter blahs.

Robert Prince is a freelance writer who lives in Maple Ridge.