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10 Easy Ways to Battle Winter Blues in Your Home

From lighting design to gardening, these tips will make you relish those cold, dark days indoors.

Whether you’re officially suffering from seasonal affective disorder, can’t deal with the fact that your rental apartment is a windowless cave, or are trying to make your home more appealing to prospective buyers on dark winter afternoons, it’s hard to wait until spring arrives.

Time to banish that gloom, because we’ve got some easy ways to bring cheer back into your home, from replacing sunshine (yes, it’s possible) to bringing the outdoors in. Plus, here’s a happy thought: as you read this, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are getting longer. That means that although spring may feel eons away, the worst is over.

1. Use all of the lightbulbs

Obviously, the way to fight the darkness is to match it with light, but if you still miss the sun, try replacing a couple of fixtures with full-spectrum bulbs, which more closely mimic the sun’s rays. These also are good for making indoor plants happy. Light-therapy devices can be pricey, but you can make your own with a clamp fixture and a 250-watt bulb. You can also install a timer switch and set the light to turn on gradually at the time you wish the sun would rise.

2. Get rid of curtains

Some interior designers advocate plush velvet curtains to retain heat during winter, but the Scandinavians — who know from winter darkness — do just the opposite and strip their windows of anything that might block the valuable winter sun. (You can still use some gauzy covering for privacy where you need it.)

3. Add fairy lights

We’ve stopped calling these “Christmas lights” because we deserve their loveliness at all times of year. Add a set of white LED lights anywhere that could benefit from a little bit of twinkling magic. Whether in your family room or bedroom, these sparklers will add ambiance to any winter’s night.

4. Plant a lemon tree

Citrus scents are naturally uplifting (more on that later), and if you follow these instructions carefully, you can enjoy the smell, sight, and taste of lemon during the winter. Who needs a trip to Florida?

5. Watch the (wheat) grass grow

Wheatgrass is ridiculously easy to grow (using wheat berries you can buy in the grain section at the supermarket). In just a week, you can sprout a lush lawn on your windowsill. Enjoy it as decoration, or juice your crop and get some of those mega-healthy green nutrients in your system for all kinds of winter-battling benefits.

6. Install instant murals

Good news for the black thumbs among us, there is a very attractive alternative for celebrating the great outdoors inside: wall decals. These gorgeous murals (which can be removed without damaging the wall) will open up your space on those days when the weather has you stir-crazy.

7. Weatherproof your windows

While you want to let in all the light, it’s hard to balance your need for sun with keeping the indoors warm and the cold outside. Weather strips and plastic sheeting can mean a warmer room and lower heating costs, which is a cheering thought indeed.

8. Opt for cozy decor

Switch out your area rugs with plusher versions (no need to go straight to shag, but high-pile carpets do offer more warmth underfoot), and drape your bed and sofa with fur and wool for functional and beautiful warmth all around the house.

9. Bring the fireplace to you

Even if your home doesn’t have a built-in fireplace, there are now portable fireplaces on the market that suit both modern and traditional styles. Many models use gel fuels that don’t emit smoke, so they’re pleasant even when placed on a coffee table (as long as they aren’t within reach of little ones). If you prefer good old-fashioned wood, consider a firepit for your outdoor space. It’s good to indulge your inner caveperson once in a while.

10. Reach for aromatherapy

As mentioned in tip 4, citrus scents such as orange, lemon, and grapefruit have been known to energize and uplift. Other essential oils, such as clary sage, bergamot, and jasmine, have qualities that can bring you out of winter doldrums. Taking advantage of aromatherapy doesn’t mean you need to turn your home into a hippie den — ultrasonic diffusers are becoming quite design friendly, or you can make your own reed diffuser to match your decor.

How do you adapt to winter in your home?