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Solutions: Think white, neutrals to brighten the season

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

Though living with less daylight at this time of year can be difficult, we can lighten our rooms and our mood with some simple decorating tricks.

It may be common knowledge that mirrors and white walls reflect the light, but there are a variety of ways to try them in our homes.

For instance, your mirrors don’t have to hang on the wall. Instead, you can choose a mirrored surface on a tabletop, a dresser or an accent like a tray.

In addition, a neutral wall color doesn’t have to fill the whole house. Try one in an area that lacks natural light to see if it suits you.

For me, all it took was a new Christmas tree to add a bright spot in my living room where the white walls aren’t always enough to lift my spirits when the sun goes down before dinnertime.

The fact that the tree looks silver by day and gold at night with the white lights makes me appreciate it even more. Another perk is that its slim profile takes up a lot less space than its dark green predecessor.

Adding some happy colors to your surroundings can be a great way to deal with this dreary time of year. Yellow would be the one to come to my rescue, which was a happy accident since I only began to welcome the bolder tone in my home later in life.

Pops of orange can also make your interiors feel more cheery.

Metallic accents rejuvenate a dark room. On a similar note, a faux-sheepskin area rug on a wood dining chair acts as a casual slipcover with a modern spin.

A little editing and organizing can make a space feel uplifting as you lighten your load. Assessing your holiday decor as you go can be a great motivator to make one last donation for the year.

Installing some hooks in a hallway near your entrance keeps winter coats off the floor, especially in a house full of kids.

Adding a few lamps to a room with little in the way of overhead lighting can have a big impact during the darker months. Investing in some extra lighting for the exterior of your home can make a difference too.

Set the table even if you’re not entertaining. This is easy to achieve in a more formal space like a dining room that’s reserved for special occasions. Get creative with reflective pieces like crystal and glass vessels that can be filled with shiny ornaments or neutral elements like seashells.

Focus your efforts on the areas where you spend the most time, like a cozy reading corner or your favorite room for watching TV. Make sure your window treatments allow for natural light during the day.

Lastly, a little whimsy goes a long way by taking your interiors in a more playful direction. Find something lighthearted that makes you smile, whether it’s a whimsical pillow or a comical holiday theme that lets you forget the darkness outside your door. With little tweaks such as these, you can take your rooms from gloomy to glorious.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at