Winter is a time when the sun comes up less often than we would like and the cold tends to keep people inside and away from normal activities.
The winter blues are something that most people come to know too well and, unfortunately, there seems to be little we can do about it. Once the cold season hits, most people find themselves stuck inside, staring out the window, wishing the summer would come quicker. If you’ve ever wondered how to stave off those winter blues, there are actually a few things you can do to make sure that your home is SAD (seasonal affective disorder) proof, and ultimately inviting. Whether you want to build a cabin or homestead that takes into account these winter months, or you’re working with a pre-existing space that needs a little sprucing up, here are a few tips to keep you smiling through the cold season.
Starting From Scratch
If you are fortunate enough to be able to build your own home, but aren’t quite sure what your design focuses should be, there are a few things to consider before breaking ground. Letting light in while simultaneously keeping the cold out seems to be a losing battle, but fortunately, with the right Low-E windows, you can achieve ultimate sunlight with little frost allowance throughout the winter season. Making sure that your home’s windows will face the rising sun, especially in December when the days are the shortest, is the best way to keep your spirits high. Studies show that sunlight is one of the best combatants to winter blues, so designing your new home with the sun in mind is a great first step when starting construction.
High ceilings and open space are other considerations that will help keep you from feeling claustrophobic in the winter. Although the ceilings may require more heat and energy, by adjusting even a few inches, you will feel less trapped by the daunting outside cold and ultimately happier with the space in which you are living. Make sure that you have plenty of counter space if you tend to spend more time in the kitchen, and if you are a hobbyist, try to incorporate a room that will house all the essentials necessary for your trade, and give you a designated area to escape the blues and work with your hands.
While it is a dream to be able to build your own home, unfortunately, some of us simply aren’t in that position. This doesn’t mean that you are stuck in a depressing cabin or home for the entire winter; it just means that you need to make a few adjustments to stave off the winter blues. And unlike those who will be spending their life saving on a newly designed cabin, you have the luxury of being able to afford a few of the essentials that will keep you in high spirits throughout the winter months. So what adjustments can you make to keep the SAD away?
Before the winter hits, or as a task to keep you busy during the winter, head down to your local hardware store and pick out a few paint samples to hold against the walls and themes in your home. Remember that the way your mind perceives colors will play on your emotions, so take some time deciding how each color makes you feel. For example, blues are often related with water and cold, which is not a warming feel in the months when depression is most relevant. While warm natural hues will offer the perception of warmth, remember that too much wood in a small area can be related to dense, claustrophobic forests.
If you live in a small log cabin, try painting the ceilings a light beige or yellow, and consider an accent wall with a warm color that more closely represents spring than winter. Light colors and pastels, even in small amounts, can change the entire feel of a room and ease your mind, allowing for relaxation and warmth as opposed to sharp, cold colors. Natural hues are the most warm and inviting colors, so try to make sure that palette you choose best suits your moods.
Next, make sure that the textures on your walls and in your tapestries are soft and inviting. Perhaps introduce warm cottons in throw rugs, blankets and pillows, to keep a cozy theme. Window treatments should always be thick enough to keep the cold out in the dead of winter, but soft and appropriately colored to where you don’t feel stifled or shut off from the outside world. When living in a log cabin, transitioning textures from wood to a single, painted sheetrock wall can really open a room up and allow the appearance of more space than actually exists. If one room has wooden or popcorn ceilings, try covering the next room with a blank ceiling that will project a light fixture that adds depth perception and shadows, for a deeper and more open feel.
3. Go Green
Often in the depths of winter we forget how much we truly miss the green growth that surrounds us in spring and summer. By introducing plants into your home in the cold months, you are not only gaining aesthetically pleasing, natural green growth, but you are actually adding a fresh oxygen source that has been proven to enhance mental functions and relieve stress. Also, the constant upkeep of watering, pruning and even talking to plants acts as a stress reliever and focuses the mind on a specific task, reducing the risk of depression by adding a codependent relationship. And if you are the type of person who can’t just own a plant for the sake of upkeep, do some research into the AeroGarden or similar indoor hydroponic systems that will provide you with fresh vegetables and herbs, which can also prove vital to mental and physical satisfaction throughout the winter.
While it is ideal to design a home with windows that face the maximum allowance of sunlight in winter months, you can still make sure to allow natural light in as often as possible. Open the blinds whenever you’re able for a daily dose of vitamin D, and try placing mirrors throughout your home that will direct sunlight and add dimension, shadows and light. Once the sun goes down, you can still use light as a natural enhancer by placing candles throughout your cabin or home and relying on firelight to soothe your moods. The flicker of fire and the ever-changing shadows that play in the light are proven to lighten moods and put your mind at ease while relaxing with a glass of wine or a hot cup of coffee.
When designing your home, think of the things that calm and relax your mind. Spring colors are a great way to keep the winter blues away, and using lighting to your advantage will keep you in high spirits throughout the cold winter months. Always remember to exercise and indulge in the little things that make you happy, and spend some time thinking about what comforts you the most.
Rearranging a room, taking on a painting task, or repurposing an old piece of furniture may be just what you need to stave off those winter blues. Whatever it is that make you happy, relaxes you, and eases your tensions in the cold winter months is exactly what you need to stay motivated and excited for the upcoming year.
How do you chase away the winter blues in your home design? Share your tips in the section below: