'Some days it doesn't feel like it gets light at all' – 3 easy ways I'm maximising natural light in my home

Using natural light to beat the winter blues

Banquette seating with striped cushions and an retro table with a yellow task lamp and laptop
(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

There are lots of things I love about winter - cosying up under blankets on the sofa, bright frosty mornings, layering up my favourite knitwear - but the shorter days are not on the love list. I’m usually a morning person, but waking up when it’s still dark feels miserable (cold, dark, wet morning dog walks are the absolute worst), and then the day’s over before you even know it. Some days it really does seem like it doesn’t get properly light at all. 

And while I’m a big fan of twinkling candles and mood lighting (always one of my fave lighting trends), I need a decent serving of natural light to keep my mood buoyant. Slowing down and going into hibernation mode is all very well but my to do list isn’t going anywhere and I still need to be productive. 

As the natural light levels dip so does my motivation and my ‘get up and go’ energy. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is recognised as low mood that occurs seasonally – usually starting in autumn and then lasting right up til spring. It’s thought that this ‘winter depression’ is caused by the reduction in sunlight we experience over the winter months. While I luckily don’t suffer from severe symptoms, I think I do experience this drop in mood on a milder level so I'm all for finding ways to combat SAD this winter. 

3 easy ways I'll be maximising natural light in my home

I’ve been reading up on how to make sure I’m getting a good dose of light (and as a last resort, the ways to help fake natural light), even on the most dull and dreary winter days.

1. Try a SAD light

A friend suggested investing in a SAD light (a light box designed to deliver a therapeutic dose of bright light to mimic outdoor light, which is believed to trigger a chemical change in the brain which then improves your mood). This is something I’d often considered, but never actually tried (have you?) and a quick google has returned some pretty stylish options, so I decided a couple of months ago that it was time to give one a go. 

Do SAD lights work? I've had my Lumie Task (in sunshine yellow for an extra mood boost) since November and it's definitely made me feel more alert and productive when working through the long, dark days. 

2. Get outside

Lush lawn with decked area and herb garden next to a garden building

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

Of course, there are other smart ways to boost your light levels at home without needing to buy something. Spending time outdoors offers mental health benefits at any time of year (give me a calming garden idea any day) , but is obviously a lot less appealing when it’s cold and wet outside! 

I’m definitely a fair weather gardener (I’m actually a fair weather person for everything!), but this year I’m determined to maintain our garden throughout the winter months, starting with some winter plants for pots. My herb garden is full of hardy herbs that should be fine over winter, but they’ll still need tending so I'm pledging to give them the attention they need, even on the coldest, dullest days.

As well as getting my light hit outside, I'll also check I'm ticking off the best houseplants to boost wellbeing inside. I love a good houseplant idea and I have at least one plant in every room in my home.

3. Chase the light

Banquette seating with striped cushions and an retro table with a yellow task lamp and laptop

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

Whilst it can be super tempting to close the curtains, light candles and cosy up when it’s grim outside, I’ll be maximising daylight wherever I can. We actually didn’t fit curtains or blinds on the windows or sliding doors in our new kitchen (I’m leaving them bare at the moment to see if we need curtains or blinds as I love the clean, minimal look), so It’ll be a good place to spend time in to remind my brain it’s daytime, even when that feels debatable.

And as my home office is one of the darkest rooms in our house, I’m going to relocate my workspace to the kitchen table for a winter switch up. It's also one of the warmest rooms in the house so it's a good spot when I'm desperate for ways to stay warm when wfh

So if you're feeling your mood dip during these shorter days, these are three pretty easy ways to harness as much available light as you can. Hopefully they'll help to keep the winter blues at bay until spring finally arrives, all without spending too much money. 

Heather Young

Heather Young has been Ideal Home’s Editor since late 2020, and Editor-In-Chief since 2023. She is an interiors journalist and editor who’s been working for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines for over 20 years, both in-house and as a freelancer.