Ten ways to brighten the winter blues at home

Three experts offer simple steps to make your home more lovable during darker days

Home may be where the heart is but when the heart is spending 24/7 indoors, the relationship may be in danger of becoming a little strained; as many who are living and working from home begin to fall a little out of love with their homes.

So we asked the experts what simple steps we can take to make our homes more lovable.

Let there be light
A light and bright space will do wonders for flagging moods, says interior design expert Anne Tuohy. "Improve your natural light by pulling your curtains and blinds as far back as you can, especially in a southern-facing room. Consider placing a large mirror opposite a window to bounce more light around and reposition bulky furniture which may be blocking light."

Brighten the mood

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Along with getting as much natural light as possible, Tuohy of roomjunkie.com says too much artificial light can be disconcerting and cause anxiety. "The secret is creating the perfect balance. The lighting in each room must be planned to support each space. Some rooms will need layered atmospheric lighting, others it will be task-orientated, with functional lighting in kitchens and bathrooms while living spaces require a combination of task and ambient lighting."

Add personality
Most of us don't have the time, money or inclination to do a complete revamp of our decor but interior architect Áine Atara says a gallery wall is a great way of adding a bit of sparkle and personality to our homes.

“They are so effective when you add favourite art prints or other meaningful items. Make it random and eclectic as the symmetrical kind is difficult to achieve, so it’s better to have different sizes and frames hung randomly. But don’t overdo the mix of wood shades, pick a type of frame that goes with your house and mix that with some metallics.”

Clear the decks
As the saying goes, a tidy house is a tidy mind, and Sarah Reynolds of organisedchaos.ie says a little bit of order will make all the difference to how you view your home. "Decluttering and creating organised systems allows us to use and live in this precious space in a more efficient and enjoyable way. The first thing to do daily is make your bed and open curtains. Then clear surfaces – these are quick wins and make such a difference. The biggest flat surface in your home is the floor so work on decluttering those spaces and keeping them clear. Finally, a nice bunch of flowers in your main living space always brightens up an area."

Breathe easy
We may all be busy, and the weather may not be all that great but Áine Atara says changing the air in our living spaces can make all the difference to how we feel about our homes. "In the morning, open all the windows and change the air. It doesn't take long to have that cross breeze freshen the space so do this even when it is horrible out as fresh air is fresh Qi [life force energy]."

Down time
Creating a point of difference between home and work will make downtime more relaxing and Sarah Reynolds says an easy way to achieve this is to try to create a portable office. "People with a home office can simply close the door, but most of us don't have that, so we need to create workspace nooks which are kept separate from the rest of the home. My top tip is to use a portable trolley for your work items – so if you are working from the couch, kitchen counter or dining room table, a trolley will allow you to store all your items. Roll it out in the morning and tidy it away into a small alcove in the evening, where it is out of immediate view until the next day."

Switch things up
Boredom and frustration at being in the same place every day can fuel dissatisfaction with our homes, so Anne Tuohy says we should change things up a bit by adding some variety. "Swap your art from room to room, buy a bright, uplifting rug and pile on colourful cushions and throws – this will raise the positive energy in your living space." Adding some plants is also a great idea and research by Wren Kitchens has revealed indoor plants can reduce 87 per cent of toxins in the air, reduce blood pressure and add a sense of calm. Some of the best mood-boosting plants include aloe vera, lavender, snake plant, peace lily, Monstera plant and English ivy.

Factor in a fit zone
Áine Atara of aineatara.com says removing a large central coffee table will open up the room for laying out an exercise mat to indulge in yoga or Pilates.

“Smaller drinks or snack tables which nestle together are a much better option than the big table as there is more floor space, and they can be pulled out when necessary. An inviting rug will also make you more inclined to lie down and do some stretching, which is important when spending hours at your desk.”

Sensory upload
Our memories are caught up in familiar smells, and Anne Tuohy suggests creating one signature scent that adds a sense of comfort and security. "Aim for a subtle, recognisable scent that runs throughout the entire home. Trust me, your family will thank you for this."

Get festive
It has been a strange year and many people are longing for the familiarity of Christmas. Atara advises adding to colourful rugs and cushions, and giving into the temptation to deck the halls. "Many of us are remembering and craving better times and seeing our treasured decorations connects us to normalcy. The soft twinkly fairy lights are joy inducing, so while we can't have everything back to normal, we can decorate our homes for ourselves and help spread that good cheer to neighbours and passersby."