Inexpensive ways to brighten the winter home


The craving for light is a given in winter, but a need for extra warmth is also true. Add lightness and brightness and in addition, designers suggest the addition of texture will make the home seem cosier.

The easiest and least expensive fix may be to add lights meant to alleviate Seasonal Affective Disorder depression. So called Happy Lights are available in local drugstores and usually cost about $100. Locate the lights near where you have your coffee or work on a computer and bask in artificial sunlight.

If your home is dark when you go to work in the morning and dark when you get home, simple changes will make a difference.

“Change out the lights. Use LED lights or halogens and the difference will be unbelievable,” said designer Chantal Ross.

In her own Grandin-area home, Ross changed the old incandescent light on her stove hood to an LED. “The difference was immediate because it provided a brighter, clearer light in the kitchen,” she said.

Extra brightness will not be desired in every room but by using differently coloured LEDs and dimmer switches, you can adjust the mood.

“It depends on the task of the room. You may not want your bedroom lit up like a runway. You might like to have a dimmer switch in the en suite, as opposed to overhead light,” Ross said.

“If you have dimmer lights in the bathroom, use them in the morning or evening when you shower or brush your teeth and then you might be able to ease into the day. Ambient light is more comforting because it’s softer. Try essential oils such as lavender or mint that create a pleasant scent, and with a soft glow of light  it’s a nice way to start the day because you’ve added a sensory experience.”

Add bright colour to any room with patterned throws. Put inexpensive slipcovers available from Fabricland on all your chesterfield cushions.

“Put a faux fur on the end of your bed. Put side-woven screens in your room and make the sheets something you like, whether bamboo, or silk or flannel so when you crawl into bed the textures are as wonderful as possible,” Ross said.

Candles provide ambience, especially in the evening, but if winter has left the home feeling shut in and closed, you might want to add fresh fragrance.

“Try a catalytic burner by Lampe Berger. The fragrance is mild, because it’s alcohol based. You burn it for two minutes then blow it out and let sit for 20 minutes. If you can’t open the windows, or if there is illness in the house, this even removes the bacteria. Unlike candles or room fresheners, it doesn’t mask odours. It removes them,” said Susan Jackson, assistant manager at Modern Eyes Gallery and Gift.



About Author

Susan Jones has been a freelance writer for the St. Albert Gazette since 2009, following a 20-year career at the St. Albert Gazette. Susan writes about homes, gardens, community events and people.