8 Ways to Brighten Your Home (and your Spirits) During These Cold Winter Months

Welcome to the 573rd Metamorphosis Monday!

Recently I was chatting via email with Selma whose beautiful table setting I featured a few weeks ago. During our email conversation, Selma asked if in a future post I’d share some ways we can brighten our home during these cold winter months. I know our homes can sometimes feel a bit empty and sad after we’ve put away all our festive holiday decorations.

One of the most fun ways I’ve seen for keeping our homes bright and cheerful during the holidays is something my friend, Marie, does all year round. She has a white tree in a corner of her kitchen/breakfast area and she decorates it all throughout the year, including for Valentine’s Day as shown below.

I just took a quick look around online and found white trees on sale/clearance in several places including HERE, HERE and HERE. If you’ve ever thought of putting up a white tree to decorate throughout the year, January is a great time to shop for them since most are on sale right now.

Valentine's Day Tree with Valentine's Day Ornaments and Decorations


I have a little, white feather tree that I sometimes decorate for Valentine’s Day. I found it many years ago in Michael’s. I don’t see any feather trees at their website, but they have a lot of cute tinsel trees in varying colors on sale here: Tinsel Trees.



Another way I keep my home feeling merry and bright through the cold winter months is with copious amounts of candlelight. I love, love, love candles! I purchased this one during my trip through Ireland where we stayed in castles throughout the trip. This candle came from Ballynahinch Castle. Oh, how I would love to go back one day! Check out these posts below to see more of Ballynahinch Castle:

A Beautiful Bedroom in Ballynahinch Castle
Inside Ballynahinch Castle: Take a Tour of this Romantic Irish Castle
Hiking the Grounds of Beautiful Ballynahinch Castle


My favorite candle(s) since I discovered them last year are the ones with the wicks that make a crackling sound like a wood-burning fireplace. Love them so much!


I keep one burning on my desk here in my office during the evening throughout the year, not just during wintertime. My favorite scent is Fireside, but I really love them all! They last for a very, very long time since they are such big candles. You’ll find them available HERE. It appears they are currently on sale HERE.

Woodwick Candle Sounds Like a Crackling Fire


If you are concerned about having a real burning candle in your home or don’t care for scented candles, check out some of the super-realistic ones that are available now. These are made of wax and have a flickering/moving flame! You’ll find this beautiful set here: Real Wax Pillar Candles with Dancing Flame. They come with a remote to make turning them on super easy.

Realistic Looking Faux Candles


This set includes even more candles. It doesn’t have a flickering light like the set above, but the price is amazing for that many candles! It comes with a remote, also. You’ll find it here: Real Wax Candles with Timer and Remote.

Real Wax Faux Candles that Look Real


Lamp Light

Another way I keep my home bright during these gray, winter months is with lamps. I love lamps and love having a lot of them in the rooms in my home since I don’t really care for overhead lighting. Nothing makes a room feel more inviting and cozy than soft lamplight all around the room. In my living room below, you’ll see five lamps positioned throughout the room. Overhead lighting can feel so harsh, so go for lamplight whenever you can.


On the other side of the room on the built-in bookcases, I have two additional lamps. (Older photo so please excuse the blurriness.) With the invention of LED lightbulbs, it costs pennies to burn our lamps these days, so enjoy lighting up those rooms with soft, warm, cozy lamplight. Just be sure to purchase the bulbs that are designed for a cozy room atmosphere and not task lighting.

Living Room with Judges Paneling and Built in Cabinetry


I’ve done the same thing with the lighting here in my home office. In the photo below, you’ll see 4 lamps. The one in front of the windows is hard to see but it’s a castle lamp from the Ireland trip.


I added little Dept. 56 lit houses to the bookcases in my office to brighten that side of the room. They are all on a timer so they come on automatically in the evening. I love walking into my office in the evening and seeing them aglow. They make my heart so happy and even the doldrums of winter can’t take that away!

Dept. 56 Lit Houses on Office Book Shelves


The houses are all from Dept. 56’s “Literary Classics” collection so they were perfect for the bookcases. Dept. 56 has discontinued this collection so the only place I’ve found them now is on eBay here: Dept. 56 Literary Classics. that’s where I purchased mine, too.

Dept. 56 Literary Classics Lit Houses on Bookcase Shelf


Green Plants

If you have a green thumb, having a few live plants in your home can help brighten things up when it’s looking bare and dismal outside. I love to buy shamrocks as it gets closer to St. Patrick’s Day. I do okay with outdoor plants but don’t have the best luck with my indoor plants. This table in my breakfast area gets the best light during the winter months.

Shamrocks in Floral Planter for St. Patrick's Day and Spring


Focus on a Spring or Summertime Project

Another way to brighten our spirits during these long winter months is to focus on the warmer days ahead. If it’s too cold to be outside, perhaps you can use that time to build a potting table. When I built this one, I had never, ever built anything from scratch before. So if I can build a potting table, I know anyone can! lol  You’ll find the two posts I shared on how I built this potting table here:

Build a Potting Table, Great for Parties, Too!
Dimensions and Cut List for a Pottery Barn Inspired Potting Table

Pottery Barn Abbott Inspired Potting Table & Buffet Server


Plan for Your Spring/Summer Garden

Another way to fight the winter doldrums is by spending your evenings planning your garden updates for spring/summer. I love to pour over my gardening books and seed catalogs, just dreaming of beautiful gardens and the spring garden tours ahead.

Pottery Barn Abbott Inspired Potting Table & Buffet Server


If building a potting bench sounds like more than you would like to take on, get one like that’s pre-made and just needs some assembling. I purchased this one a few years back and had so much fun assembling and painting it a whimsical periwinkle blue. I keep it in my garage since I don’t want it to weather too much. It comes in handy for potting up plants I use indoors like the shamrocks seen earlier.


This bench is still being made and you’ll find it available here: Potting Bench.

Potting Bench, Easy to Assemble


One More Project to Keep You Focused on the Sunny Days Ahead

Another winter project that will help you pass the cold winter months and focused on spring is making a tiered planter for your spring flowers. You’ll find a detailed tutorial for making this plant stand here: How to Make a Tiered Planter From Terra Cotta Saucers.


Here’s how the planter looked in one of my summer table settings the year I made it.


Plan a Summer Trip or Vacation

Another way to brighten your spirits this winter is by planning a summer trip or vacation!


The travel bug hit me 4 years ago and I’ve had so much fun exploring this big ‘ol world! If you plan a trip, I promise no matter how cold/ugly winter gets, the dream of that trip this summer will keep your spirits happy and bright.

Bucket List Travel Map, Scratch Off the Places You've Traveled


Bonus Idea

Wintertime is a great time to curl up with a great decorating book and plan some new decor projects for spring. You’ll find over 100 of my favorites here: Favorite Decor Books.


Books About Designer's Homes


Hope you find these ideas helpful for passing these cold winter months. We’re almost through January, so that really just leaves two more months before springtime arrives. I noticed this weekend, the daylight is already staying with us a little longer each day. Have you noticed that? It makes me so happy because I know spring will be here before we know it! In the meantime, I hope this post makes you happy and gives you a few ideas for brightening your home (and spirit) on those cold winter days!

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  1. Wonderful ideas Susan! Isn’t it great how many realistic candles there are now? Your living room looks so cozy and welcoming – a perfect place to read one of those books! 🙂 Happy winter Monday!

    • So true! They’ve really improved over the years, too! I just noticed that photo of my living room was one when I was trying out some drapes and had just draped the curtains over the top of the rods. I just replaced it with a photo after they were hung…looks more normal now. lol Thanks, Barbara! Keep warm!

  2. Linda Page Gurganus says

    I love your house! Every picture reminds me of being there. We are going to Ben’s ship reunion in Maine in September and plan on making a long possibly 2 weeks or more trip out of it with stops along the way in Alabama, Georgia, South and North Carolina where we have friends (you) and relatives. So hope to see you then. I feel the need to reconnect!!

  3. Selma Kessler says

    Susan, thanks for the great ideas! I love, Love, LOVE the tiered plant holder! It’s been really cold here in the Midwest, so a plant related project is perfect! I think I’ll also look into ordering one of the candles with the crackling wick. We have a gas fireplace in our current home, so it will be nice to have that crackling wood sound again. I just hosted a Sweet 16 Tea for a friend’s daughter this past weekend, so that was a nice distraction. Stay cozy !

  4. Thank you so much for hosting. This week I am excited to share my lake house must haves. Hope you have a great week!

  5. Your post has inspired me to dig out my large Dept 56 Snow Village next season. I haven’t set it up in years (sorry kids) because the lighting situation makes me so frustrated. I am going to look for individual, battery controlled lights so I don’t have to deal with entire strings anymore. Thanks for the idea!

    • I know, those cords aren’t much fun! Let me know if you find some really bright battery-operated lights. In the past when I tried those for my windows at Christmastime, they were never bright enough so I ended up going back to cords. I hope you can find some!

  6. Your post has inspired me to dig out my large Dept 56 Snow Village next season. I haven’t set it up in years (sorry kids) because the lighting situation makes me so frustrated. I am going to look for individual, battery controlled lights so I don’t have to deal with entire strings anymore. Thanks for the idea!

  7. Hi Susan. I was re-reading your metamorphosis post from last Monday, January 13th. I love the look of scarves wrapped around handbag handles. I think it’s beautiful, but am wondering how one keeps the scarves from getting stained with hand lotions, creams, oils, and dirt in general, that come in contact with our hands.

    • They will get dirty but that’s okay because it means they are doing their job protecting the handles. Twilly scarves are super easy to wash (unlike handbag handles :)) with The Laundress delicate wash.
      A few months ago I purchased a couple of twillies from Ann’s Fabulous Finds on eBay and when they arrived, they looked dirty. I was really disappointed since they hadn’t disclosed that in their ad on eBay. I washed them in The Laundress Delicate Wash and they looked as good as new! This is the product I’m talking about: https://amzn.to/36aP5JV . It works great for silk. I’ve even seen tutorials online where people have used it to wash Hermes Silk scarves.

  8. My gardening project for early February is to build a garden wall trellis out of PVC piping. It’s very inexpensive, and couldn’t be easier to assemble. I have a rather large expanse of wall in my back yard, and have had this project in mind for a while now, but since it’s a tall wall, the cost of building a trellis big enough has prevented me from moving forward. Wood, of course, would rot, and iron would be too costly, and I would have to have something custom made to fit the space. Then I had an “Aha moment”, and thought, OMG, why did I not think of this sooner. Since the exterior of my house is white, it would not show. If any of your readers out there have done this sort of thing before, I would love to know their experiences.

    • That sounds like a brilliant idea, Lisa! I would love to see it when it’s complete. So I’m guessing you’ll have a plant or climbing vine growing on it? I can’t wait to see what you do!

  9. I have a climbing rose bush that I’m anxious to plant. Thank you for the link to the Laundress cleaning product.

    • That sounds beautiful! Lisa, I forgot to mention, The Laundress also make a wool and cashmere wash. I’ve use it whenever I was my J. Crew wool shirt-jackets and they come out beautifully. So I can def recommend it, also.

  10. Thanks Susan, lots of great ideas! I am keeping my house full of bright flowers to give the feeling of Spring!

  11. I noticed the days getting longer! I love the shamrocks on your table. I’m going to look for some.

  12. Susan please….don’t rush the hot weather. I need cold, snow and the bugs to die. It’s my Scandinavian DNA. Besides I’m still buying cashmere sweaters. from L&T. at 45 they are selling out.

    • lol I was thinking about that today. We’ve had such a mild winter, the bugs will be a nightmare this summer if it doesn’t get colder and stay that way for a bit.
      I keep forgetting that I can shop at L & T online. I was so upset when they closed their stores here. They were my go-to before I discovered Talbots. I will have to start checking them out online again.

  13. Thanks so much for hosting each week!!

  14. Just discovered your link party. LOVE your feather valentine tree! So many fun ideas here, thanks for hosting!

  15. Brenda Lawrence says

    Great tips to get through the winter Susan! Thanks for that.
    Hugs, Brenda

  16. Thank you dear Susan.
    I hope your year is of to a good start.
    Enjoy your week.

  17. Cyndi Raines says

    Love your feather tree, so pretty for Valentine’s day. Great tips to help deal with ol’ man Winter. I’m catching on on some reading (so I’m behind on reading your post, yikes!) and yes, I’ve notice it is staying lighter longer, yeh!

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