Home & Garden

Beat the winter blues with a bright makeover

Are you afflicted with a bad case of the winter blues? Nothing will put a spring in your step like a decorating project. Here's a fun one: Take a lackluster room in your home and infuse it with drama. Here's how.

Bring on the color: If you have a small room that doesn't get a lot of natural light, don't fight it: Use it to your advantage by turning the space into a warm, cozy cocoon. Paint the walls a dark, rich color like twilight blue, molasses brown or gooseberry green. Then, spark up the space with light accents. Paint your trim white or cream. Bring in furniture that's upholstered in light-colored fabrics. Make sure you use plenty of accent lighting. Cover the walls with artwork that's light and bright. Select window coverings that are light enough to pop out from your dark walls. The contrast between the light and dark will make the room sing.

Tempt yourself with texture: Another way to give your room lots of pizzazz is to fill it with a mix of irresistible textures. Right now, I'm crazy about creating tone-on-tone rooms in a white-and-cream palette, then adding in loads of interesting textures so the light and airy space feels serene, not sterile.

If you're redoing a bedroom, start by painting the walls cream and the woodwork white. Cover the windows in light, gauzy drapes that feel like clouds, putting bamboo shades underneath. I've fallen in love with burlap drapes that are delicately smocked at the top because they perfectly wed this rustic fabric with a delicate design style.

Bring in more texture through your furnishings. How about a bamboo desk that doubles as a nightstand or a wingback chair upholstered in an embroidered cream fabric? Use a sisal area rug banded in cream-colored cotton tape on your floor.

Then, turn your attention to the bed, creating an oasis of diverse, touchable fabrics. Start with bright white sheets, then add a cream matelasse coverlet. How about a burlap dust ruffle? Pull in some natural-colored shams made from a loosely woven but soft fabric that mimics burlap, spiced up with your monogram done in cream-colored thread.

Pick up the tempo with pattern: If you're feeling bold, pick a pattern you love and layer it throughout your room. Hunt through the wallpaper books for a pattern that is available in both wall coverings and fabric by the yard. Then repeat the pattern on your walls, in your window treatments and through your upholstered furnishings and bedding. When it's done right, a room filled with a repeating pattern looks amazing. The key to pulling off this tricky look is to pick a soft, subtle pattern, like an understated floral, that has only two tones, such as brown and cream, or pale blue and white.

A ceiling that's a cut above: If you want to add a splash of color or pattern but don't want to change the entire room, look to your ceiling as the new frontier. When I was growing up, my mom always had flowered wallpaper on our kitchen ceiling. That was back in the age of "flower power," so my friends thought our house was really groovy. Whether it's a bold design or a soft pattern, wallpapering your ceiling can give your room just the kick you're looking for.

Or paint your ceiling a contrasting color. A friend of mine whose living room walls are painted a lovely shade of olive green wanted to spark up the space a bit more. She was crazy about coral, which is one of this season's hottest colors. So we decided to paint her ceiling coral, tying the olive and coral paint together through carefully chosen accent pillows on her sofa.

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