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Feeling claustrophobic? Ways to declutter and lighten up your home

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Feeling claustrophobic? Ways to declutter and lighten up your home

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Increased social distancing means more time inside your house — and more time think about all the clutter and darkness weighing down your space.

Want to lighten up, but don’t know where to start? Here is a range of ways to brighten up your home — and spirits — from small tweaks to big game changers.

Start small

Before making any changes, there’s a little something you’ve got to do first — get rid of stuff! All those old clothes and shoes you’re not wearing? Buh-bye. Worn linens spilling out of your closet? See ya!

Although the idea is exciting, decluttering can quickly become overwhelming, and it’s hard to know where to start. “I think that in order to be successful with spring cleaning, you must take it one step at a time,” says Anna Popov, owner of Seattle-based Interiors by Popov. “Minimize the task by starting small.”

“I think that in order to be successful with spring cleaning, you must take it one step at a time,” says Anna Popov, owner of Seattle-based Interiors by Popov.
“I think that in order to be successful with spring cleaning, you must take it one step at a time,” says Anna Popov, owner of Seattle-based Interiors by Popov.

She suggests moving through the house, tackling one finite job at a time, such as organizing a dresser or clearing out your bathroom vanity.

You can also try making it a game to stay motivated. Start with one item per room on day one, then two items on day two, and so on until each room feels more polished and less chaotic.

Popov offers another fun idea for once social-distancing restrictions lift: “Ask your best friend to come over, pour a glass of bubbly and the next thing on your list will be done in no time,” she says.

Ridwell, a company headquartered in Seattle that takes hard-to-recycle items like light bulbs, batteries and plastic packaging. (Courtesy of Ridwell)
Ridwell, a company headquartered in Seattle that takes hard-to-recycle items like light bulbs, batteries and plastic packaging. (Courtesy of Ridwell)

Be sure to minimize waste as you purge all that unwanted stuff. Donate usable items to Goodwill when the stores reopen. Or use a service such as TexGreen, a textile recycling company in Lynnwood that accepts items such as clothing, shoes and bags; or Ridwell, a company headquartered in Seattle that takes hard-to-recycle items like light bulbs, batteries and plastic packaging.

Another sustainable option — that also happens to be free — is shopping your own home. Rearrange your furniture for a new look in a tired space. Dig trinkets and accessories out of storage to jazz up shelves and flat surfaces. Have a vase that’s not quite right on the side table? Pop it on top of your bedroom dresser. And while you’re at it, move photos around or create the gallery wall you’ve been dreaming about.

Lighter curtains with a spring-inspired print, such as the cotton Mahina Curtains from Anthropologie, can both freshen a space and boost your mood. (Courtesy of Anthropologie)
Lighter curtains with a spring-inspired print, such as the cotton Mahina Curtains from Anthropologie, can both freshen a space and boost your mood. (Courtesy of Anthropologie)

Take it up a notch

Swapping out your linens seasonally is a simple and effective way to bring in lighter, softer hues, as well as this season’s trending patterns. “Bold florals are trending once again,” Popov says. She says this year’s florals are big and moody, with “dark backgrounds with strong, warm colors on the prints.”

Adding light, neutral colors is another way Popov brightens up rooms she designs.

Rugs made from natural materials, such as jute, are less heavy than traditional woven wool and have a neutral color to blend with your furnishings. Popov recommends complementing these larger neutral pieces with cushions, throws, ottomans and art in spring’s bold florals, bright solids, or fun patterned or embroidered designs.

Lightening your curtains can also transform a room. Trade out velvet drapes for more effervescent fabrics that let light easily stream through as the days get longer. Anthropologie stocks several breezy options in linen and cotton fabrics.

Structural changes, such as the addition of skylights, can add dramatic amounts of light to your home. (Getty Images)
Structural changes, such as the addition of skylights, can add dramatic amounts of light to your home. (Getty Images)

Go big

The sun is, thankfully, starting to come out more and more. And even if you can’t be outside as much as you want, you can bring more light into your home to lift your mood.

Start by assessing your lamps and lighting. “In my experience, deliberate light placement is the key,” says Popov, who explains that her team likes to play with several sources of light to get a bright, airy feel.

Consider also incorporating flexible light controls. “Depending on the time of day and season, your light requirements will vary,” Popov says. “Having flexible scene settings will ensure that your lighting will adapt to the right moment.”

A large wall mirror, such as West Elm’s Desert Sun Mirror, can bounce light around a room and serve as a decor focal point. (Courtesy of West Elm)
A large wall mirror, such as West Elm’s Desert Sun Mirror, can bounce light around a room and serve as a decor focal point. (Courtesy of West Elm)

Mirrors can also brighten up a room — and make for a standout décor item. They’re widely available online and, when stores reopen, check out vintage options at flea markets. Popov says that the reflective surfaces of mirrors bounce light rays and can be used strategically in a space: “For example, place a mirror-top console by the window. The window and the mirror would reflect the natural light and brighten up the space.”

Lighten up your decor with a DIY project, such as stripping and restaining a wood piece to a lighter shade, or whitewashing a piece of furniture for that rustic-chic weathered look. Prep is key, notes Popov, so be sure to have the right tools before starting the job.

Sometimes it’s not what’s in the room that requires a change, but the bones of the house itself. Remodeling, though the most expensive option, can solve fundamental lighting problems. Consider projects such as stripping heavy carpets, refinishing floors, incorporating a skylight, replacing a small window with French doors or taking out an interior wall. Be sure to have a clear understanding of your budget and examples of your intended design before contacting contractors.



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