Blue Monday – the term coined for the supposed “most depressing day of the year,” which falls on the third Monday in January – is approaching. Though Blue Monday’s origins are baseless and unscientific, snow, ice and biting weather indeed tend to lose their novelty after the holidays.
Durango’s interior painters, home furnishers and decorators say the region’s abundant sunlight keeps the season’s gloom at least partially at bay, but when winter is dragging along, a variety of costly and inexpensive changes to a house’s interior can help.
Let in the lightThe few hundred lux produced by an indoor lamp don’t come close to the 32,000 to 100,000 lux that come from direct sunlight. Winter feels long when the days are short, but the sunlight’s reach can be maximized at no cost by trimming trees and bushes that barricade light from getting in and rearranging furniture to keep chairs, sofas and desks close to windows.
If the house is lacking in south-facing windows and natural light, a solar light tube, which can cost up to $1,000 to install, can draw outdoor light in.
Paint brighter“When people say they want to brighten the house, a lot of times we just go in and put a fresh coat on things,” said Jason Davenport of Rocky Top Painting. “A fresh coat of white on the walls or ceiling is an amazing difference, especially in homes that burn wood in the winter.”
Dark colors can darken the mood, and warmer tones can achieve the opposite, he said. For that purpose, earth tones are the most popular because they’re light, soft and warm but still versatile.
Lighter hues not only depict brighter days, they create the illusion of more space.
“Anytime you want to create the feeling of space, go for the lightest colors possible,” said Andrew Pietrack of Colors Inc. “They create the illusion of a space being bigger. Darker colors are more enclosing, which is why you don’t see them on ceilings, and I don’t recommend them for tight hallways.”
Price depends on the project, but a 50-square-foot accent wall could cost from $20 to $70.
Painting a single wall, or an accent wall, can cut the cost of paint but also draw attention to a bright feature, such as a fireplace or window.
Add glassAdding south-facing windows or replacing a solid door with a glass one, while more expensive options, are instant brighteners, and bay windows bring in more light than traditional window designs.
Skylights can cost thousands of dollars, but they bring in 30 percent more light than a window.
At Smart Enterprises, a glass and home accessory business, owner Malaika Mestas said Four Seasons sunrooms are one of her top sellers.
“They bring in all the light without the elements,” Mestas said. “They can have glass in the ceiling or all four walls, and they come in different styles, with straight or curved eaves.”
Depending on the level of customization, the additions can range from $150 to $400 per square foot at Smart Enterprises.
Make it greenerFlowers and plants are the cheapest and easiest way to freshen and liven up a room.
“We’ve been very busy in the past week with people looking for a range of house plants,” said John Wickman, owner of Native Roots. “I’m selling a lot of rosemary, which is fragrant and looks good, and a lot of rubber trees.”
And even the most irresponsible plant owners rarely go wrong with succulents, Wickman said. They require little water, can thrive in the cold as long as they get sunlight, and they’re difficult to kill.
Hang photosIf it’s dark and cold outside, hang a photo of a place that isn’t, Mestas advised.
“A lot of people are bringing in artwork or photos of places they visited for framing, and that can totally change the home’s look,” Mestas said. “I’ve seen some phenomenal pieces of artwork and photos from someone who took a trip to Cuba that we framed. That’s something you can change quickly and easily to completely change a room.”