Whenever I heard someone say that January seemed to last forever, I had to agree. Whether it was the lack of daylight or sunshine or both, winter felt like a major presence that made time stand still at the start of a new decade. Even our dog struggled to find a sunny spot.

Now with February already off to a snowy start, I feel this month may have the same effect. While we can’t change what nature brings our way, we can tweak our interiors with little adjustments that go a long way toward a brighter environment. If you’re going a bit stir crazy this season, you can reconfigure your rooms, which is what I’ve been trying to do lately.

The fact that I favor neutral shades for my home components lets me be flexible with their placement. One of the many benefits of these pieces, which go way beyond beige, is that they can easily transition from one room to the next. Decorative accents in gold, black, wicker and glass are among the many options that play well with other objects.

Black always adds a dash of drama wherever it goes, especially when it sits beside a happy hue like yellow or a neutral tone like gold for contrast. Classics like wicker baskets and wood boxes complement any style or color scheme, while metal and glass elements lend a modern touch.

When it comes to editing, my new reduction process might sound a bit silly, but it’s been working like a charm so far. Keeping a tally sheet for each room to track how many items I can remove each day seems to motivate me. Whether that means clearing tables and trays of dated papers and reading materials or making new files for loose documents to have a proper home, I’m definitely seeing a difference.

A funny thing happened recently when I took photos of two tabletop arrangements to show someone the brass service bells I have that could come in handy for a friend who needs assistance while recovering from surgery. Seeing these objects each day doesn’t bother me, but the images tell a different story that looks a little disjointed.

This prompted me to rearrange some smaller items and to rethink a few bigger pieces, too. With a lack of wall space due to my weakness for art and accent furniture, there aren’t too many options left at this point. Still, having restrictions forces me to get creative and fills my head with new ideas that have potential.

Just the simple act of decluttering the area on and around my nightstand made me feel a sense of accomplishment. Despite the fact that I have two drawers and a tiered tray for books and magazines doesn’t mean I stay organized for long. Now everything that remains needs a reason to be there.

When the darkness of winter gets you down, lighten up your living spaces with some creative placement and rearranging of your favorite staples. Any editing will be an added bonus to your home environment where, unlike the weather, you call the shots.

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

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