Make the inside of your home look and feel brighter, cozier and warmer for fall and winter.

With crisp mornings and falling leaves, autumn chills are in the air. It’s a gorgeous time of year, and a time of transition for your home and sometimes for your mood. But as temperatures cool outside, we can find plenty of ways to warm and brighten the insides of our homes and enjoy some of the extra hours spent indoors as the temps drop. Try a few of these ideas:

Let the Sun Shine

It seems obvious, but open up the shades and curtains and let the sun into your house. You can even follow the sun throughout the day, opening window coverings on the side where the sun is shining at the time. Nothing beats natural light for mood, appearance and even health. By letting the sun hit heat-absorbing materials such as tile floors, your house will soak up some of the heat and save you a little in energy costs along the way. Close those blinds and drapes back up at night to help keep out some of the cold.

Cover Cold Floors

Though tile can absorb direct sun, it feels cold underfoot in areas that get little sun. Place some nice, thick area rugs out in winter months for extra warmth. Oriental rugs in oranges and reds add warm tones that can look bright or soft, depending on the angle and light.

Pose for Reflection

Adding mirrors and reflective surfaces can brighten an otherwise dull and dark room, especially if you have limited windows. Place a decorative mirror with a metal frame (It doesn’t have to be shiny metal, but avoid dark wood) across from a lamp. The mirror will reflect the light, and strategically placed mirrors can make some rooms look larger. And try adding some recessed lighting or pendant lamps to a room with too little light in winter or any time of year.

Paint the Walls

A new coat of paint brightens up any room, regardless of the color choice (OK – within reason!). And if the room is really dark, a semigloss finish can give you more of the reflective finish throughout the room or on an accent wall. Cool whites and blue undertones give a more airy, spacey appearance than yellow tones. It’s tempting to use contrasting colors on trim, but painting it the same or slightly lighter in tint makes a room appear larger. Or switch to an all-white palette with just a touch of gray or other subtle accent color. And if you want warmth, spend your time in rooms with warm tones.

Do Some Winter Cleaning

All rooms look larger with less clutter, and your floor, wall or large furniture surfaces can’t reflect all that natural sunlight if they’re covered in piles of newspapers or stacks of work folders. A lean, clean appearance adds to brightness and comfort. Replace years’ worth of magazines on the floor with a small basket holding a few blanket throws.

Change Your Outlook

We’re not saying you have to love winter or gloomy days, but you might want to rearrange the furniture so you spend more time sitting in or looking at the sunnier areas of your room. Or maybe spend more time rooms with more ample natural light. Abandon the casual dining of the dark kitchen and eat breakfast at the dining room table, by that big east-facing bay window.

Bring the Outside In

If you miss having so much outdoor time, bring some of the outdoors inside. Try wintering over one of your favorite annual flowers. A geranium will flourish in a sunny window and might give you year-round color. Or purchase a Christmas cactus, orchid, or other plant to bloom for you in fall and winter. A touch of green and bloom can lift your spirits on a dreary winter day. Make a dry arrangement with winter branches or berries or splurge and buy yourself some flowers for no reason at all. 

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