Once the tree comes down, all the cheery festive decorations are packed away and sparkly glowing fairy lights stored, and holiday merry making with family and friends has ended, it can start to feel, well, kinda blah. And to add insult to injury, we have eight more weeks of winter! For those of us dealing with darker, shorter days this winter, here are some strategies for introducing color and light to add warmth and luster to your environment, essential to beating the winter blues!

Consider 4 principles of decorating:

1. LIGHT: Let there be light!

Those with serious seasonal mood disorder benefit from light therapy --- but we can all use light to lift our mood. Dark day? Turn on the lights! A dark house is not going to help your mood. Small lamps for reading, or on a chest, table, bookcase, etc. create a warm, cozy, and lustrous ambience. Don’t forget to roll up the shades and throw open the curtains to get the max out of natural light. Turn on the fireplace if you are lucky enough to have one – both warmth and light, heavenly! Picture lights, aimed at focusing on your artwork, are a beautiful way to brighten a room. Light candles. Always have a place to perch near a sunny window. Check that you have plenty of ambient and task lighting, with energy efficient bulbs that cast a warm or golden light, no harsh whites! There are battery operated lamps for a bookcase where no outlet is nearby. Lamp bases in a pretty ceramic color or in shiny brass also lend a little sheen to the space.

2. COLOR: Use color to set the mood

Have you ever heard of chromatherapy: The art of using color to elicit a specific mood? Intuitively, we know how certain colors make us feel, but there’s actually a bit of science for how the majority of folks react. Our reaction to color is usually related to our experience with natural phenomena; for example, yellow suggests the warmth and joy of sunshine and summer days. Similarly, blue and green are reminiscent of the natural world and the earth’s natural beauty, so most of us find these colors fresh, relaxing and stress reducing.

At this time of year, I love rich blue, lush green, and for a touch of glamor you can try burnt oranges, raspberry and plum…like a warm hug. If your major upholstered pieces are neutral, it’s even easier to switch out pillows with the season for a punch of color or texture.

Don’t know which colors to use? Decorators suggest you start with a favorite piece of art that you love and reflects your personality and use it as a starting point for a scheme, setting the color palette and atmosphere without taking over your room. Change out decorative pillows on beds, sofas, and your favorite reading chair to pillows with bright happy color, mix and match with abandon for a boost of energy and cheer in a room! A favorite decorator recommends “a marigold pillow, a deep rust velvet chair, colorful patterned slipcover on a headboard, or a splash of color in your rug” to add value and interest to your space.

I personally like pink and green layered – in moderation and in the right places – like this bedroom. Starting with the colors in the beautiful Colefax & Fowler English floral textile, I have added striped paper, petite checks on the duvet, an Irish plaid throw and fresh flowers all in similar happy shades! It has become our guest’s favorite room.

3. TEXTURE: Feel cozy with tactiles and texture 

Textiles of various weights and hands will add visual warmth and textural interest to a room, even if they are all monotone.  Don’t forget throws that are not just cozy, but also add a pop of color, texture, or pattern. I love the look and feel of Irish or Scottish wool throws in gorgeous color, or even traditional plaids. There are so many choices in throws – handwoven, mohair, wool, even chunky cable patterns reminiscent of an Aran fisherman sweater, and of course fake furs!  Don’t forget rugs can be layered and have the added benefit of providing texture and softness underfoot. I love this sunny reading corner with soft chenille paisley pillow and Irish blue and green throw. Very cozy.

4. PATTERN: Energize with layered patterns

Print fabrics, especially mixed and matched, lend a room energy and life! A decorator recommends: “When I am decorating, I pull together a palette of colors and patterns in the fabrics I like and use them like a painting palette. I can see what colors all work together, sometimes colors that I might not have immediately thought of. Then put larger scale and smaller scale patterns together, and geometrics with florals for example”. Try pillows with two different sides – mixing different scales and types of print, or in our case very special rescued textiles with a solid linen back or woven trellis or stripe, for interesting contrast and texture too. Pillows with blousy florals backed with checks and stripes are just so fresh and fabulous! In this example, a popular William Morris woodland scene is mixed on a neutral sofa with a larger scale embroidered floral and an oversize check wound with an embroidered vine, all tied together in shades of green and blue.


More Ideas to Consider:


Citrus fruits are like sunshine – whether it’s the color, taste, or their bright fragrance! Eating citrus is of course a great source of Vitamin C, the “sunshine vitamin”, and may help with energy and mood. Some believe that citrus scents, with their strong tangy aromas, stimulate activity in the brain and the production of serotonin, the hormone most closely related to the feeling of happiness and energy. Just as pretty and colorful to look at, decorate in the winter with bowls of bright citrus. They are at peak season here now until early April. In February, the French Côte d’Azur celebrates their seasonal citrus crops with a festival - of huge, towering sculptures of local lemons and oranges in the town squares – a place known for its winter-gloom escape possibilities!


We need winter for nature to rest before the flower-filled filled days of spring. In the meantime, bring nature in. Plants offer a happy hit of greenery, like a fiddle leaf fig, plus some varieties can improve your home’s air quality. Forage in your garden for evergreen branches or dried flowers like hydrangea.  Easiest of all, force bulbs from your local nursery – daffodils, hyacinths, anything at all -- in glass bulb vases, designed to hold the bulb up high with roots reaching down into water. Many have the added bonus of fragrance. You may even be able to find vintage bulb vases, usually in richly colored glass. And of course, pillows with a botanical or floral design hint at Spring to come!