Let the Sunshine In:

Illuminating Your Home in the Dreariest of Winter

Across cultures and continents, people have celebrated light during this gloomiest of seasons. From Americans’ love of megawatt light displays to the Swedish tradition of marking the feast of St. Lucia by having the oldest daughter wear a wreath of candles on her head, people turn to light to alleviate the gloom of a deep, dark winter.

Perhaps the winter blahs have seeped into your home, too, but you don’t have to plop candles on your head like St. Lucia to let a little light into your world. A few simple tricks will have your house feeling lighter and brighter in no time.

According to Carolyn Allman of the Allman Design Group in Medford, one of the most effective ways to allow light into the home is to install a Solatube, a relatively inexpensive tubular skylight that “snakes around” heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems. Allman marvels at its ability to lighten up any home, explaining that “at the end of the day we go to turn off the lights and find they were never on!”

Of course, putting in a Solatube requires either planning in the architectural stage or renovation. If you’re looking for more immediate gratification, you might consider buying canned lights at the hardware store and aiming them at the ceiling so the light can reflect around the room, suggests Allman. This can be particularly effective if you shoot the light through green plants. And don’t forget the efficacy of throw pillows and textiles. Allman recommends making your choices based on “texture and coziness.” Also try replacing any dark lamp shades with lighter ones. “Interior design is all about the adjectives,” she advises, so if you choose based on what feels cozy and bright to you, your home will reflect that brightness.

Leanne Eaton, of La Bella Casa Design in Grants Pass, also recommends introducing bright colors with a change in pillows and throws, advising people to place lots of fresh flowers and greenery around the house. She also likes the look of candles scattered around the home, and notes that candles placed near a mantel mirror or colorful glass will reflect more light. Lighter draperies and slipcovers provide a quick, relatively inexpensive solution for brightening your home. Eaton notes that slipcovers can drastically change the look of a room without much commitment, and some drapes are now reversible, so you can use the lighter side in winter to brighten your home.

Both Eaton and Allman emphasize that brightening your home can involve the simplest of solutions. Eaton notes that she is always surprised by how many people simply forget to open all of their curtains. They may be looking for a “thermal advantage,” she notes, but nevertheless it’s the easiest answer if you’re desperate for more light. Allman suggests focusing on making sure the “energy is moving around” your house — “play music, turn on the lights or fireplace.” In other words, make sure your house is lively and bright in every sense — lived in, loved, used and appreciated. All of these things can give you the warmth and brightness you crave — or at least help you remember the promise of spring sunshine.


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