December through to February really are the deepest, darkest of winter months, and although December is made bearable by the warming glow of Christmas, January and February can be difficult months to get through, with their dark mornings and long, cold nights making it harder to feel our get up and go.
Light is soothing for our souls and whether we’re staying cosy inside with our twinkly lights all lit or out taking in the crisp, fresh air, we need it to make us feel better during the long winter weeks. It’s also beneficial for our health, as the lack of sunlight means that almost 7% of the UK population reportedly suffer from SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder during the winter months. However, the one benefit of winter light is that it can be very bright and clear, so the trick is to maximise on that when preparing our homes for these darker months.
Thankfully, there are a few simple changes you can make in your home that will ensure you reap the benefits of the limited natural light at this time of year and ultimately improve your mood and your general happiness. Here are 5 things to start you off.
1 Rethink how you live in your home
The simplest change you can make during these darker months is to rethink how you use the rooms in your home at different times of day, in order to benefit from that natural light coming in through the windows. This is particularly relevant if, like me, the aspect at the back of your house is more northerly – I can make my kitchen feel cosy with any number of twinkly lights and candles, however to be able to enjoy my morning cuppa in a brighter spot, I have adapted the children’s den/playroom at the front of the house so that it’s a pleasant place to sit in the winter months when the sunlight doesn’t quite make it around the back of the house so much. There is a small sofa and chair in there and also my desk corner, so with the little fire lit too, it’s a bright, cosy and stimulating room to work in.
If you’re lucky enough to have a bay window, move your favourite armchair there to make a bright reading nook for yourself or set a small table and couple of chairs at an east facing window so that you can enjoy a morning coffee or lunch there with your partner or a friend. It’s about making some changes to your daily routine too!
We are often guilty in this country of not using our conservatories through the winter months, much preferring to sit in the cosier front room with the fire lit. This is fine come evening, however don’t underestimate the benefits of all that natural sunlight streaming into the conservatory during the day – so install an extra heater if it does become chilly and make it feel like your own personal winter snug with plenty of ‘hyggeligt’ Nordic inspired accessories, such as fur throws, baskets of blankets, candles, star lanterns, strings of soft lighting and cover cold floor tiles with a big, thick pile rug or natural floor covering.
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2 Keep windows exposed during the day
Not enough people realise just how much better you’ll feel if you allow plenty of natural light into a room, so push back heavy curtains or drapes during the day and roll blinds away, letting that lovely bright light flood your home. When hanging curtains, make sure the pole is high and wide enough so that when the curtains are fully pushed back, they don’t obscure the window. Similarly, be wary of installing roman blinds, which even when folded up, still partially cover the window. Instead, opt for roller blinds or Venetians in a bright part of the home. If you look at many Scandinavian interiors, like the one below, they have no heavy curtains or blinds covering the windows, simply so that they can maximise on the natural light from outside.
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Clear away excess clutter and heavy furnishings such as chests of drawers or dressing tables from windows where possible, to allow as much light in as you can. The same applies to larger houseplants, which should be moved to a corner spot and not left in the middle of a window, blocking out precious light.
3 Consider installing skylights
If you’re planning a kitchen extension or renovating in general, make sure you’re putting enough windows in to maximise on the natural light that will be available come winter. Skylight windows are a superb way of letting in lots of light and companies such as this one, have an amazing variety of blinds to choose from when the sun goes down and you need to keep the heat in.
This is our kitchen with the skylight letting lots of natural light in.
My mum recently had a VELUX skylight installed in her home to brighten up an extra sitting area she had created in a largely unused mezzanine space above her lounge. The result is she can now enjoy the bright morning light which floods in there each day, even in the depths of winter, and it has become her happy place in the home – proof that natural light really does lift your mood!
4 Use mirrors
Mirrors can be cleverly used to reflect and bounce light around a room, so try to hang them opposite a large window or at least on a wall where the sunlight will bounce off it. This will go a long way in brightening up a room and making it feel more spacious and airy. Alternatively, buy furniture with mirrored or glass accents for a similar effect.
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5 Get Outside!
Yes – get outside to dose up on your daily Vitamin D (just 20 minutes a day is recommended for your body’s needs), however while you’re out there, cut back hedges and trim any larger shrubs and bushes that may be obscuring the windows and cutting out valuable light.
Also, why not create a winter outdoor seating area complete with fire pit and chairs covered with sheepskin throws and blankets so that you can sit out in the winter sun to make the most of those clear, bright days that define winter in all its glory. Yes it rains and snows a bit too, but those are the days we’ll be on the inside looking out, so get out there and top up that all-important Vitamin D!
Keep healthy and happy this winter.
** This post contains some sponsored content however all opinions and wording are my own.**