Ideal for making the most of daylight hours and the darker days of winter.
As we round the corner into the final months of the year, it’s been lost on no one that the days are getting shorter and the evenings drawing in with an ever increased enthusiasm. Though there’s often a temptation to declare this an ominous sign of oncoming doom and gloom, we like to think there are some positives, too.
A chance to show off a whole new winter wardrobe, perhaps? Or, to enjoy Pumpkin Spice guilt-free, and to get ready for cosy evenings in front of the TV with a blanket. There’s something about that crisp chill in the air which is kinda romantic, don’t you think?
That said, the novelty soon wears off. The fact that there are fewer hours of sunlight in the day demands proactivity to keep things bearable. You can expect a jump in your household bills as lights are switched on earlier and the heating needs to be run more regularly. Any little jobs you have been doing outside will need to be done earlier, as light starts to disappear earlier. And the darker evenings have an impact on emotions for a lot of people – it’s going to be harder for some of us to find the enthusiasm that seemed to be on tap all summer long.
It’s a little-known fact that houses in the UK were built to maximise heat, a scarce resource on our shores; that’s why heatwaves can be unbearable. What they often don’t do is maximise another scarce resource; light. And with seasonal affective disorder stirring, it’s a matter of prioritising self care to do what you can to keep your home feeling brighter. Don’t let the shorter days make you sad; here’s 5 ways to brighten your home.
REARRANGE YOUR FURNITURE
By the middle of December, the sun will be setting shortly before 4pm, having only risen eight hours previously. Come this time of year, we’re all on a carefully-rationed sunshine diet. As such, whilst the sun is up, it’s important to embrace as much light as possible.
As the season’s change, the way your home performs changes too; rearranging your furniture seasonally to take advantage of natural light is one of the most simple, surefire ways to make the most of the scant sunshine during winter.
When it comes to moving furniture, as a rule of thumb, you usually want to avoid placing things in front of windows where possible. Doing so blocks out light and can make a room feel dingy. However, if space permits, consider moving your bed, sofa or favourite armchair next to a window so you can bask in any sunlight streaming through the windows.
If you’re working from home, as so many of us are right now, keep curtains open, crack a window on milder days, and work outside if the weather permits it. Every little helps here.
REDECORATE OR RENOVATE
Aside from the layout, the physical structure of your home can be changed to maximise light’s potential, too. If you’ve been considering a renovation, look seriously at aluminium bifold doors which allow more light and, when opened, can create an ‘outside, inside’ vibe. Keep them closed when it’s raining, by all means, but more sunlight can only be a good thing when the weather is less inclement.
Or, you could redecorate your home to brighten it up and bring in that much needed lighter feel proactively. White and various off-white shades are more adept at reflecting natural light than darker tones, and as such, a simple lick of paint could make all the difference to your outlook.
REFLECT THE LIGHT WITH MIRRORS
Mirrors aren’t just for checking your reflection before you head out – they can play a major part in making your home feel more spacious and increasing the feeling of lightness when you need it most.
Set them up in strategically-chosen areas and a mirror can be a truly beneficial ally against the winter blues. A large ornate glass stretching across the chimney breast will catch and reflect plenty of light. Or, a landscape, widescreen mirror hung on a wall opposite your largest window can make a room double in size, visually.
Equally, make sure that sightlines around your house are clear and unbroken; Autumn may be a month where clutter is permissible, but don’t let it block out light.
TRY BRIGHTER LIGHT BULBS
It’s thought that one in three people has some measure of SAD. And for those susceptible to the condition, it is recommended that they sit in front of bright, boxy lamps which can knock out up to 10,000 lumens.
Replacing all of your lights with these lamps is neither practical nor desirable, but it may be worth replacing your current lightbulbs with brighter LED bulbs. Some of the latest crop of bulbs can produce 5,000 lumens and more, which is bright enough to make a difference. Or, you could invest in a dedicated SAD light, of course; many converts say that an early morning blast of the good stuff, for just a few minutes each day, has had a marked improvement on their seasonal moods.
EMBRACE THE DARK
Ok, so this one may not brighten your home physically, but mentally, your home will seem a brighter, lighter space if you simply embrace the dark months and prime your home accordingly. Shifting your outlook and appreciating everything that the colder months have to offer might be one of the greatest tools in the fight against a bleak Winter, so cosy up, get some cocoa in, and ramp up the comfort levels in the places you spend the most time.
That’s your bed and the sofa, then. Tactile changes make a particularly strong impact; extra throws, rugs, cushions and pillows create that added sense of warmth and comfort which the colder weather and darker days demand. Visually, you can also invest in items that bring that warm ‘glow’ (the Danish have a word for it, we’ve heard) to your house; flickering candles and lamps which give off a golden light both work brilliantly. Hey, we’re in this thing for the long haul, we might as well get comfortable!
THE BOTTOM LINE
There’s a lot to love about the darker months, but they can take a toll on the emotions when approached carelessly. Make your home a brighter space now, and you can confidently face down the season with a little added resilience. We’ll see you on the other side.