​I am the first to admit I’m not a winter person. But where we live snowy winters are a fact of life. And if living with winter has taught me anything, it’s to savor the warm and cozy aspects of this season. Candles, fairy lights and a roaring fire can do wonders to boost light on short, dark days and (even more important) bolster the spirits. So pour yourself a mug of hot cocoa and get cozy around the fire. Here are 10 ideas for boosting light and creating a magical ambiance around the house.

Lisa Petrole Photography

Keep your windows clean (and as bare as possible). You may be surprised at how much more light comes in through crystal-clear windows. Even if it’s too cold out to get to the exterior side of the windows, cleaning even inside can boost light. And while there’s something to be said for the insulating effects of heavy window treatments, they do nothing when it comes to letting in maximum light on dim winter days — so open the blinds and pull open those drapes!

Colin Cadle Photography

Line your hall with lanterns. If you have a long hall, why not line it with a row of sturdy hurricanes filled with pillar candles? I imagine this would make just walking from one room to the next a far more romantic experience.


Have your fireplace ready and waiting. If you have a working fireplace or wood stove, stock up and get ready with everything you need to light a fire at a moment’s notice. Chop and stack wood, prepare kindling and get your tools in order. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to have your chimney professionally cleaned. Knowing everything is ready to go may nudge you into having a cozy fire more often.

Gabriel Holland Interior Design

Keep a candle and fresh blooms beside your bed. Lighting a candle in the evening beside your bed is such a pleasant way to relax while reading those last few pages of a good book. Fresh flowers in a cup are a mood booster in their own right, but a candle-flower duo is best of all.

Amelia Hallsworth Photography

Use string lights in the bedroom. Whether you choose plain white twinkle lights or mini paper lanterns on a string, fairy lights bring a magical touch to the winter bedroom. Drape them from the headboard, hang them vertically from a curtain rod or drape them across the top of the closet. Before bed put out all lights but the twinkle lights and candle, and revel in the ambiance.


Enhance the kitchen with candles. Kitchen lighting can be a bit sterile — it gets the job done but doesn’t add anything to the mood. Supplement the overheads with a smattering of tea lights or votive’s on the counters, and I think you’ll find even chopping vegetables or washing up to be a more pleasant undertaking.

Gabriel Holland Interior Design

Light candles at breakfast. Winter mornings can be so dark. Why reserve candles for the dinner table only, when you can benefit from them at all times of day? I find candles have an especially calming effect on children; they’re great for soothing frazzled nerves before a busy school day.

Gabriel Holland Interior Design

Do we need to say to put candles around the tub? If you don’t normally soak in the tub, make an exception for winter. Bring in a few candles and place them around the tub, turn down the lights and relax. Repeat at least once a week.

Louise de Miranda

Start your holiday decorating early (but keep it simple). I’m not one for going overboard on holiday decor (especially not way in advance of the holiday), but a few simple, natural pieces can bring a welcome festive air to the home. How about making your own tree branch star, like the one shown here, and wrapping it in fairy lights?

Louise de Miranda

Or place a few luminaries on the mantel and sideboard. Setting out small, special candle-holders, string lights and lanterns is a good way to ease into holiday decorating.

Gabriel Holland Interior Design

When all else fails, treat yourself to color. I am a firm believer in the power of color to uplift the spirits. So if all of the tea lights, fairy lights and cozy nights around the fire aren’t helping you get your groove back, allow me to suggest splurging on something bright and bold instead. Raspberry mohair throw, anyone?