Take advantage of the days leading up to the new year to hit the reset button and look for ways to refresh both your home and your state of mind. To get you started, here are a dozen straightforward and cost-effective ways to bring new life to your home — including how to repurpose holiday decorations and the easiest way to enliven a room with just one purchase.
1. Add plants. Freshen up an indoor space with living plants. Bringing in even a single potted specimen, like a fiddleleaf fig (Ficus lyrata, seen here), will give your living room new life and a welcome hit of green in winter. Most popular indoor plants — such as ficus, ferns and philodendrons — grow best in bright, indirect light. Choose a spot by a window where the plant will receive four to six hours of indirect sunlight. Many succulents and cactuses appreciate at least six hours of bright sunlight.
2. Rearrange framed photos. Instead of purchasing something new to fill a space on a blank wall, work with art and photos you already have but combine them in new, engaging ways. For example, open up more space on your desk, side table or bookshelf by removing all stand-up frames. Combine them to make one high-impact gallery wall — the more eclectic and personal the better.
3. Let the light in. During the coldest, darkest months, any exposure to sunlight can help stave off the winter blues. While it may be too chilly outside to throw open the windows, bring the sunshine in by raising blinds or replacing heavy drapes with gauzy curtains. Pale wall paint, crisp white linens and sparse accessories also help make a room feel lighter and airier.
4. Freshen home decor. For a bright look for the new year, go for clean white, cream, pale blue and metallics. Whereas holiday decor often falls into the camp of “more is more,” a minimalist approach — such as using a single color for decorations and keeping them sparse — can have a light, refreshing feel that is all the more appreciated after holiday gluttony.
5. Repaint old furniture in a bright color. Updating existing furniture with a fresh coat of paint is one of the most economical ways to give an old piece an entirely different look. To add more energy to a room, choose a bold paint color like Kelly green or sunny yellow. If you get tired of the color in a few years or it no longer fits with your decor, you can always repaint in a subtler hue.
6. Repurpose Christmas lights. Before packing away all of the holiday lights, pull out a few strands of all-white ones to use through winter. String the lights up to add a subtle glow to dark areas or under the upper bunk bed in a kids’ room.
7. Rearrange your furniture. For a completely different perspective, try rearranging your existing furniture. Reorient your sofa to face a new direction or reverse the layout of your living room. Go a step further by removing any pieces that are no longer being used or that add clutter to crowded rooms, and either sell or donate them.
8. Declutter, declutter, declutter. Set aside five minutes each day to clean up and put away papers, accessories and general loose items. It may not seem like much, but it could be enough to make a dent in your desk clutter, clear off a horizontal surface or reorganize your bookshelf. Over a week, just five minutes a day spent decluttering can add up to a clearer, calmer space.
9. Reorganize your desk. Clear off the holiday to-do lists, receipts and scraps of wrapping paper, and lay the groundwork for staying organized in the upcoming months. For example, designate one spot for incoming papers. If papers are thrown around haphazardly, they can add up to a lot of desk clutter and be difficult to locate when you need them. Once mail or documents come into the home, do not place them anywhere but your designated spot for incoming paper. Also, use crates, baskets and boxes to collect loose items and hide wrapping materials or accessories that can look cluttered.
10. Give your bookshelf a color boost. Transform bookshelves by covering the interiors with a wash of bright paint or wallpaper. Choose a rainbow effect or a single warm hue for an unexpected hit of color in your living room. Once the paint has completely dried, move books back in place and mix in artistic bookends, potted plants or other accessories to add diversity.
11. Stock up on fresh fruits and veggies. Make sticking to those New Year’s resolutions a cinch with easy-to-grab healthy snack options. Bowls of fruit set on the table or on the sideboard by the front door can be a great way to tempt family members to reach for a piece instead of a bag of chips on their way out the door.
12. Welcome the new season. Bring in something fresh and spring-like, such as a budding branch, a bouquet of flowers or potted paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus) to act as a daily reminder that spring is just around the corner.