Winter is coming, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it. If only frigid temperatures brought as much joy as summer sun, a new season of “Game of Thrones,” or heck, even the sandwich you just scarfed down between meetings at work. Unfortunately, the season of oversized parkas and “wintry mix” (meteorologist speak for “cold, wet, sky garbage”) is upon us.
But you don’t have to sacrifice the spirit of springtime just because you spotted a snowflake. Some people say denial is a bad thing; we say it’s a survival technique. Keep your home in a cheerful, spring-like stasis all season long by following these simple tips.
Buy (or Build!) a Window Box
Grow your favorite herbs year-round inside. Mint, rosemary, and thyme thrive with a sunny window during the chilly winter months. And they smell nice, too, making your air as clean as a spring breeze.
Also add easy-to-care-for plants, like the golden pathos vine or the peace lily, to remove harmful contaminants from the air — giving you a literal breath of fresh air when you’re cooped up all winter.
Give Your Nose a Spring-y Treat
Speaking of nice smells, you can trick your brain into believing it’s spring with scent. And all you need for an olfactory refresh is a stove, a pot, and 10 minutes at the grocery store — no need for room deodorizers packed with VOCs (volatile organic compounds, which can damage your organs and harm the environment. Ugh, no thanks.). Boil sliced lemon, thyme, and a spoonful of vanilla to make your nostrils swoon.
Or, supercharge your home with spring-like scents every time you clean. Soak cotton balls in your favorite essential oil (try citrus, jasmine, or lavender). Place them in your vacuum bag before you clean to keep the entire space smelling fresh.
Revisit Your Childhood With a Swing
Nothing says spring like reading a book in your favorite hammock. Make the child in you downright giddy by hanging an indoor hammock (or even a swing!) by your biggest, brightest window.
All you’ll need for the world’s coolest indoor swing is a drill, heavy-duty screws, some nylon, a plank of wood, and a few basic Boy Scout knots. One caveat: Make sure to hang the swing by a sturdy ceiling beam (or screw your hammock anchors into the studs). Otherwise your playful plans might leave you with a bump on the rear.
Lighten Up Your Indoor Lighting
If winter’s wimpy rays leave you feeling sad (or worse, afflicted by seasonal affective disorder), now’s the time to lighten up.
The simplest — and cheapest — solution is to clean DIY TipYour bulbs should have a Kelvin rating of 2700 for a soft, warm light that will also give off a bit of heat to warm your room. Yep, dirty bulbs not only make your home look dingy, they waste energy, too.
You could go all out and hire a pro (for about $1,500 to $5,000) to retrofit your lighting to boost the mood in each room. You pay that much for a vacation, why not make your home feel like a vacay spot? Or split the difference and invest in uplights, says Boston interior designer Heidi Pribell. Uplights are tiny (think coffee-can size) and inexpensive compared with traditional lamps — and have the advantage of sending light up to reflect off the ceiling.
“Lights directly focused on the ceiling will spread and make the room brighter,” she says. “A lamp pushes light down, which doesn’t feel nearly as wonderful as the light projected up.”
Let the Natural Light In
Take advantage of every second of sunshine by installing a skylight.
“I have a humongous skylight in my office,” Pribell says. “That natural light coming from above makes working all winter long fantastic.”
Is installation too costly? (It can run as high as $3,000.) Consider a solar tube system, a cheaper alternative that uses reflective tubes to create a patch of sunlight in your ceiling. Even better: Unlike a skylight, they don’t require reframing your attic, which cuts installation costs by half or more.
Ditch Drab Walls
This winter, stop staring dreamily at the paint samples at your local big box store, and do something about your bland, beige walls. Pick a fiery orange or a spunky yellow, or choose a playful wallpaper to bring your space some out-of-season cheer.
“Pattern and color are a great way to counterbalance any somber mood,” says Pribell. “People are timid about that sort of thing, but it does make a big difference.”
No need to slather color over an entire room — even one overhauled accent wall can be enough to uplift your mood.
Do a Ceiling Fan Check
Ceiling fans are made for warm and cold weather — as long as you use them correctly. Once winter hits, make sure the blades are going clockwise to keep your home warm and cozy.
Because heat rises, precious warm air hovers around the ceiling during wintertime. Reversing your fan’s direction sucks cold air upward and pushes warmer air to the floor. Winter chill? What winter chill?
Unleash the Sun’s Heat During the Day
No, your precious heat won’t escape through the windows if you keep your blinds open. With sunlight at a premium, soak up every second by opening your shades on bright days.
“Follow the lead of the Scandinavians and avoid heavy window coverings that block natural light,” interior designer Hollie Blakeney says. “Let in all the light that you can with sheers or no drapes at all.”
And on those rare sunny, sorta-warm days, go ahead and open the windows for a bit “to rid your home of stale winter air,” she says.
Put Your Winter Gear Out of Sight
Thanks, winter. Cold weather means boots, mittens, and heavy coats — not to mention the dour wintry mood that makes cleaning seem impossible. But interiors are more cheerful when they’re decluttered, no matter how annoying organizing all of your woolen accessories might seem. A cluttered living space feels cramped and uncomfortable, especially when you’re trapped inside for the season.
“Keep winter items out of sight through the use of closets, shoe racks, and drawers,” Blakeney says. After all, if you can’t see your parka, it isn’t winter… right?