Ask the Expert

Mood-boosting design ideas

I'm susceptible to feeling blah during the long winters in Alaska and would like to ‘winterize’ my home against these winter blues. Any suggestions for simple home design strategies to help keep my mood soaring all season long?

I recommend starting with some simple décor items, such as a few pieces that are easy and affordable to change out (pillows, throw blankets, curtains, etc.) in a bright, refreshing color or pattern. Switch up these items throughout the winter whenever you’re feeling like you need a boost or a change.

Consider incorporating elements from nature that help connect you back to the natural world – it’s an excellent strategy to help boost your mood year-round. Humans have spent most of our history outdoors, and being indoors as much as we are these days can take a toll. These natural elements can be very literal such as plants, water features, and natural light, or indirect like images of nature, natural materials and colors (such as wood and stone, or earthy tones), or simulated “natural” light and air. Fresh flowers can do wonders, and even something as simple as carnations will brighten up a space and bring some freshness and vigor without breaking the bank.

Lastly (and most importantly) is your lighting. Make sure you have good bulbs that give off a bright warm light (avoid daylight bulbs; they are very blue!). Try some of the new smart bulbs such as the Philips Hue lights, which can be adjusted in both color and brightness right from your mobile device. They even have settings that replicate the colors of a Hawaiian sunset if you have multiple bulbs!

Kelsi Swank, Allied ASID, graduated from the Art Institute of Seattle with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design. Currently, she is the Director of Residential Design & Graphics at SALT (formerly RIM Design). Visit