How To Make Your Home Feel Bright & Happy Now That It's Eternally Dark Outside
Anyone else missing those 10 p.m. summertime sunsets right about now? If you, like me, are incredibly sensitive to the changing of seasons, you probably agree that daylight savings should just be deemed illegal already. Although that singular extra hour of sleep sure feels nice at first, the winter blues that follow can be debilitating.
While there’s nothing I can do about the acronym SAD feeling like some kind of sick joke, over the years I have managed to combat my own seasonal sadness by making a few small tweaks to my home. Here are six that anyone can apply to their own space.
1. Do away with overhead lights.
Step one: Find alternatives to harsh overhead lights. Floor lamps, table lamps, sconces, white cord Christmas lights, and copper string lights can all set a more welcoming mood—especially if their bulbs have a warmer tint. Additionally, I’m a big fan of “fun lighting”: AKA the type that serves 10-25% utility but 100% ambiance. Think: selenite and Himalayan salt lamps, lava lamps, and disco ball string lights. The way you choose to light up your space can be as warm, colorful, and funky as you allow it to be!
2. Put your new lighting on a smart schedule.
There’s nothing fun about walking into a dark house or apartment at 5:30 in the afternoon... and as it turns out, you don’t have to. Utilizing smart-home technology at the most basic level is super easy, and “layering up” is relatively painless. Smart plugs allow you to set your lighting to a timer and smart bulbs can be set to dim or brighten on a schedule, as well.
For an example of what they look like in practice, in my own apartment I have smart plugs paired with my bedside lamp and copper string lights hung in my bathroom. My morning alarm clock is actually my smart hub, which simultaneously plays a Spotify playlist and turns on my “smart-plugged” lights. It wakes me up with music, starts my morning with soft ambient light, and helps me kickstart the day with ease.
And then at night, I have smart bulbs in my living room that automatically get brighter and warmer in hue as the sun begins to set.
3. Embrace the entertainer inside of you and make your home a more social space.
I've found that entertaining in the winter is super comforting. It's fun to get creative and go beyond your typical movie night to host a themed potluck (i.e. exclusively recipes with garlic or dishes that require being eaten with a spoon), have a fancy cocktail party simply for the sake of it, or invite a small group of friends over to share their personal writing. With every social gathering, you'll invite more warm energy into your space.
4. Adopt a new at-home hobby.
What activity have you been itching to try but couldn’t make the time for during summer? Pick up the instrument you never had the chance to play as a kid, or give a new craft a shot (embroidery, anyone?). If you’re lacking inspiration, a quick scan through Pinterest always helps me get the wheels spinning.
5. Experiment with aromatherapy.
The right essential oils can warm up a space super quickly. Plus, oil diffusers are relatively inexpensive and fun to use. Pick out a couple of scents that make you feel good, put on your diffuser when you wake up in the morning, and run it for another hour or so before bed. Heck, you can even combine smells to create a custom scent for your home. (Pro tip: frankincense, rosemary, and bergamot are cozy picks for fall and winter.)
6. Fill your white walls with art.
If you’ve been putting off hanging prints in your space indefinitely, I have good news for you: The time has come! Nothing makes a space feel warmer and more lived-in than some new decor. If you’re worried about breaking your budget, artwork and frames don’t have to cost a fortune. Endless artists on Etsy have listed their original artwork, and some even give you the option to download via PDF file and print yourself. When it comes to frames, I have found tons of affordable options at IKEA and at my local Goodwill. Happy decorating!