January is the most dreary month of the year. It’s official (well… AperoGirl official!).
Thankfully we are finally beyond the building stage where we are outside all the time. I am no longer trying to build stone walls with two kilos of mud stuck to each boot, wearing slippery cold and wet gloves and attempting to lift a rock that’s just a bit too heavy. For those of you who are currently at this point, I send my bestest wishes for speedy progression! Trust me, it doesn’t last forever!
There are a few things you can do to get yourself through the dankness of winter and so here are a few ideas I’ve put together with some suggestions should you want to try them.
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Paint your walls a bright and light colour. Yellow tones add warmth and a sunny feel. You will even notice a difference if you change to white from greyish shades or magnolia (and white is cheap!).
Also if you have any kind of texture on the wall, woodchip, artex or crépi, as we have in France (who’s bright idea was that?), this absorbs an astonishing amount of light. If you have the chance to plaster skim or strip wallpaper it makes a massive difference, albeit not a quick and easy fix.
Huge changes can be made with paint. Beams are a tricky one. If you have lovely oak beams, obviously it would be a great shame to change them, although painting in between helps, even if it is just a “freshen up” coat. So often beams are not particularly attractive, in which case go ahead and cover them up! It will give the room a completely different vibe.
This is the before and after of the dining room in our last house.
Opt for matte walls rather than glossy. It may seem the wrong way round but glossy walls can create glare (rather than reflect light equally). Matte surfaces, on the other hand, reflect light in every direction.
Play with mirrors. The bigger the better and there is so much choice in design and style. If you are really struggling for light because of windows set in thick walls, get some mirrors cut to fit in your window reveals. These are a neat way to project extra light. Mirror tiles can also be strategically used in bathrooms or kitchens to give an added perspective.
Good lighting is so important. Gone are the days of every kitchen sporting a garage style striplight (except in some French kitchens it would seem!!) Inset LEDs are cheap and easy to fit if you are at that stage of renovating. If your ceilings are already in, there are other options such as clever string lights or LEDs on self-adhesive ribbons that can be tucked away on top of cupboards, under shelves and on staircases.
For other rooms uplighters give an attractive ambient light without glare by reflecting light on to your ceiling. Avoid centre and overhead lights in bedrooms and living rooms. Table lamps give off a gentler, more relaxed atmosphere. Creative use of fairylights can be very pretty and light up an otherwise dark and dull corner.
However, always always make sure you choose “warm white” bulbs to avoid a miserable disappointment!
Avoid heavy dark curtains that absorb light and opt for something translucent that will allow sunshine to filter into the room. Make sure your curtains don’t cover any more of the window than is necessary or choose or make some cool curtain tie-backs.
Clean your windows! I know it sounds obvious but you will be amazed at the difference and it seems to make the whole room feel cleaner too! I so must go and do this now!!
Cut back vegetation around your windows and lop tree branches that are blocking out light. I find this particularly hard as I love trees, but you soon get used to the new look (just don’t tell my husband that I have admitted this!)
If it’s impossible, go the other way and make it a feature by going for a sumptuous dark and cosy feel.
Use candles at night for cosiness. Add character to a room with lanterns or hurricane lamps and big fat church candles that burn for a good long time, or are scented for a relaxing aroma (or dog smell cover-up as is sometimes the case at our’s!!)
Be strategic with fixtures and fittings. Bookshelves or partitions should never be parallel to a window, or they’ll obstruct the light. Carefully consider the flow of daylight and how you want to promote it. It is surprising how a change around of furniture can give you a boost and improve the feel of a room, even temporarily.
If you have the chance to change your flooring, choose a pale option (and a good mop!). If not, invest in a light-coloured rug or mat and combine this with pretty cushion and throws.
Make the most of any sunshine. Get outside when you can and enjoy it even if you have to wrap up warm. Open the windows to let some fresh air in however briefly.
If things get really bad, it may be worth considering taking a vitamin D supplement. If you are really struggling and think you could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, do make an appointment with your doctor. Things can be done to help.
There is one thing you can do that I can guarantee will make you feel better. Treat yourself to a pot of daffodils or hyacinths, or a cheap bunch of tulips to bring a little bit of spring into your life. Go on…do it for me x