February may be the shortest month of the year, but for those of us in the Northern regions, it often feels like the longest. And now that it is March, the joy of the holiday season has worn off, as has the novelty of bright, white snow. What invited rest and reflection just one month ago now feels like a suffocating blanket of bleakness. There are some easy lifts we can add to our interior environment that will bridge the gray until the spring weather shoots life back into us.
Start Spring Cleaning. I love to do my spring cleaning early for many reasons. The biggest is that I am an avid gardener, and I can’t stand to be inside once the sun is shining. Cleaning now gives me a head start on enjoying the warmer weather when it comes. It also gets me moving, which is an instant energy boost–scrubbing floors, reaching up above cabinets, and hauling boxes to Goodwill are all great exercise when it is too cold to be outside. Finally, clearing out the winter clutter gives me a clean palette for bright spring colors and accessories.
Bring on the Bright. There is a large body of research on the impact of color on our moods and behavior. The colors on the paler end of the spectrum invite rest, relaxation, and reflection. Think nursery pinks, spa greens, and waiting-room blues. The bright, vibrant colors energize us with their intensity. I like to use oranges and yellows in particular for spring. Bring in a throw pillow for the family room couch, a vase of flowers on the dining room table, and a glass bowl of oranges and lemons on the kitchen counter for an instant pick up.
Get organized. There is nothing more draining on your time and energy than endlessly searching for purses, backpacks, homework, the matching shoe, or the car keys. Every object in your home should have a designated spot. Items that are used daily should be placed in an easily accessible location close to where you need them–backpacks and coats on a hook by the back door, keys and wallet in a bowl on the counter, extra towels, and toilet paper as close the bathroom as possible. If it doesn’t have a home, find it one or get rid of it.
The Nose Knows. Now that everything is clean and organized, consider layering in some fresh scents. I love to use aromatherapy around the house to lift my spirits and to keep my family calm. My favorite mood-lifting scents are citrus and herbal scents such as lime, lemon, orange, basil, and bergamot. I also use lavender and rose to calm, and more woodsy scents like rosemary and fir to ground. I prefer pure essential oils to synthetic scents because they retain the healing and nourishing properties of the plants and don’t put any artificial chemicals into my home.
Written by: Stephanie Wagner is the owner of Hestia’s Hand in Ludington, Michigan, and a consultant for Allard Design LLC in Spring Lake, Michigan. After spending fifteen years in the field of early childhood development, Stephanie left her full time employment to pursue her passion for interior decorating and writing. Photo: Mark Steigenga