Winter may not always feel like the most wonderful time of the year. The cold and lack of natural light can be difficult to deal with, disrupting our daily routines and affecting our mental health. But little changes around the home can help.
Designer Susannah Holmberg says she likes to "use texture to boost moods. Materials like velvets, boucles, and sheepskin can elicit moods, just as color can." She adds, "Our goal is always to design spaces that work in all four seasons. But a space that works in winter is one that feels like a respite from cooler temps — cozy textures, down-filled cushions, saturated color, as well as natural materials. Woods, real stone, and hand-made elements make spaces feel more inviting."
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Ahead, you'll find more mood-boosting décor ideas, but we also need to note: For some, seasonal changes can actually lead to depression and a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you believe you're experiencing more than just "the winter blues," we encourage you to seek the support and expertise of a medical professional.
11 Mood-Boosting Winter Decor Ideas
1. Maximize natural light.
First things first: Let the sunshine in. Sunlight has a huge impact on us all, and designer Shavonda Gardner's uplifting, sun-filled kitchen makes the point all the more. So open the blinds, pull back the curtains, and consider swapping heavier drapes for sheers or purchasing a double curtain rod so you can have the best of both worlds.
2. Bring in some plants.
In the dark of winter, when nothing is growing outside, what could be more affirming than bringing a little bit of life inside? Houseplants have many benefits, including improving air quality and lowering stress levels. Seriously, just looking at this room by plant guru Hilton Carter is so energizing. If you're a newbie, start off with a succulent, or one of these nearly indestructible plants.
3. Display artwork.
If anyone knows about designing with joy, it's Oh Joy! designer Joy Cho. Her interiors are known for having a certain exuberance. Here, her penchant for bright colors is on full display, as is her confidence in expressing her personal style. She also clearly understands the power of art. Engaging with art can be truly powerful and can even trigger the brain to release dopamine, the same chemical released when we're in love.
4. Incorporate color.
Color is a powerful mood alterer. For proof, just take a look at this bedroom, in which a warm shade of yellow infuses the whole space with cheer. Whether you love brights or muted tones, consider what moves you and design accordingly. Incorporate your favorite shade through an allover paint color or simple textiles like throw pillows.
5. Decorate with flowers.
Equal parts moody and cozy, this room by Susannah Holmberg Studios is where we want to spend a wintery night with a good book. The fur throw, textured bedding, and cheery vase of flowers by the bedside make it just so inviting. Consider recreating the scene for yourself with these elements, and don't skip the flowers. Much like potted indoor plants, cut flowers can breathe new life into your space.
6. Make your decor meaningful.
Joy Cho shows up twice on this list, because she's really mastered the art of happy home decor. Just have a look at this room here. The warm tones of the room help make it homey, but of course it's that dog pillow — well, and the dog, obv — that are the sweet stars. Incorporating meaningful touches into your space through personalized decor items is sure to make you happier to spend time there.
7. Lean into the holidays.
It's no coincidence that in the darkest days of the year, we have an abundance of holidays that in some way celebrate light. Whatever your leaning, embrace the light, including with your decor. Whether with candles or twinkle lights or greenery or all of the above, set a celebratory holiday scape and your mood may just follow.
8. Embrace the concept of "mys."
Most of us have heard of the Danish concept of hygge by now, that idea of emphasizing coziness come wintertime. In Sweden, they call it "mys," and blogger Niki Brantmark shows us how it's done on her blog, My Scandinavian Home. "This season," she writes, "I really wanted to up the mys factor, so I've doubled up on candles, blankets, a fluffy rug, books and little foraged touches." She even updated her living room sofa with a lovely, tweedy cover.
9. Add soft lighting
It's called mood lighting for a reason, and fairy lights were made for the job, giving off a soft glow that's impossible not to appreciate. We love how Tanya of @houseofsixinteriors created a sort of nest of string lights to mimic the look of fire in their fireplace. It's an especially great decor solution for a non-functional or faux fireplace.
10. Consider light therapy.
It's harder to get enough sunlight during the short days of winter. To make up some of the difference, consider light therapy as a form of self-care. These specialized lamps can help reduce the symptoms of the winter blues and SAD. We love the look of this design-forward option by Sunrise Sensations, but be sure to do your research and consult with your doctor to pick the best happy lamp for you.
11. Add a scent that makes you happy.
Scents can have a powerful effect on our moods. You could simply use a scented candle or essential oil diffuser, but if you're going to be home for a while, why not make a potpourri simmer pot like this one by Bukie of @thekitchenmuse? Theirs incorporates citrus, apples, herbs and cinnamon, but simmer pots are endlessly customizable, so go with the scents that you love most.