Woman sipping hot drink looking out a window in a winter home.Winter has its perks, but the shorter days and long nights are on few people’s list of favorites. While you can’t make the sun stay up longer, there are plenty of ways you can brighten up your home for the winter. Here are some tips to lighten up your winter living space.

Stow the screens

You might be surprised to learn that window screens block as much as 30-40% of the light that enters your home. Leaving them up during winter not only makes your home colder and dimmer, you can also risk damaging your screens from extreme weather. Unless your winters are so mild that you still need your screens, consider taking them down in late fall and securely storing them until spring.

Curtail the curtains

Heavy curtains are great insulation in the winter, but they can also leave rooms feeling dark and cramped. Instead, consider roman shades or a simple valance with blinds to maintain privacy while maximizing natural light.

Style the Scandinavian way

Scandinavians are no strangers to short winter days. Is it any surprise that their interior design is dominated by shades of white and other light colors? You can borrow this bright idea by utilizing pale shades for the walls, floors and furnishings in your home. With some slip covers and rugs, you don’t even need to change your paint, carpet or furniture.

Master the mirrors

Bright colors are great at boosting light around your home, but nothing shines like a mirror. Not only do mirrors help rooms to feel more open, they also brighten up spaces. Large mirrors or gallery walls of smaller ones are both effective options.

Shine on with string lights

Though they’re best known for outdoor decorating during the holidays, string lights can add cheerful brightness to your living space throughout the season or year. Though the LED varieties cost more, they’re more durable, longer lasting and safer. Check out this page for string light decorating ideas.

Keep windows washed

Dirty windows don’t just look unappealing – they let in less light and warmth. Make sure to clean your windows inside at least once a month and outside at least once a year. Though it’s easiest and safest to do the outside cleaning when the weather is warm, you can tackle the job in freezing temperatures as well. Just be sure to use cold weather windshield washing fluid so your cleaner doesn’t freeze on the panes.

Banish bushes and branches

Has your overgrown landscaping left your sunny views in the shade? If bushes are encroaching on your windows or low-hanging branches are blocking light, it may be time to take out the pruning shears or the tree-trimming gear.

Swap out the solid door

Solid doors are extra sturdy and secure, but if you don’t need a doorway that can survive a battering ram, consider a glass-paneled door. A variety of half- and full-height glass doors are available for brighter options. Glass sidelights and transoms will let more sun in as well.

Bolster your bulbs

Perhaps the most direct way to get more light in your home when you want it is to add more or brighter lights. Extra table or floor lamps are a simple and affordable way to increase illumination without the need to install additional fixtures. You can also add brighter bulbs to the fixtures that accept them. LED bulbs cost more, but last significantly longer, use less electricity and produce less heat (most important in summer). Look at the lumen number on bulbs for an apples-to-apples comparison of brightness.

Those longer summer days may still be a ways off, but with these enlightened tips, you can help maintain a bright environment and a sunny disposition through the winter.