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By Design: Making small decor updates can usher in sense of winter renewal

Clean desk” width=
Lauren Edith Anderson/Santa Cruz Green Builders
Research shows that a tidy space has psychological benefits, so taking just a few moments to declutter a desk can make a world of difference.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

January can feel like the longest month of the year. Cool, foggy mornings lose their holiday charm, and the approach of spring still seems far off. February arrives as a welcome reprieve from the January blues – the perfect time to give your home a refresh. I find myself craving a reset as I welcome in the new year.

I notice around this time of year that the winter months can make my home feel flat. When that happens, I like to give myself a few hours devoted to making some simple changes. Just small updates usher in a sense of renewal that brightens my entire home.

The new year is an invitation for a fresh start, and I want my home to reflect that. A season of guests and entertaining over the holidays leaves my towels a little dingy, so I like to replace them with a basic but bright new set of white towels. I donate the old towels to animal shelters or our local veterinary clinic.

I also splurge on new sheets, pillow cases, and a duvet once a year. Even with a weekly washing, sheets tend to gray out over time. Slipping into a bed made with new sheets (I recommend a thread count of at least 500) feels luxurious, especially if I have a good book on the nightstand that I’ll pick up before bed.

Spruce it up

My desk accumulates so much throughout the week: from papers to fabric swatches and receipts. Research shows that a tidy space has psychological benefits, so taking just a few moments to declutter my desk makes a world of difference. Step into each room of your home and notice which areas feel chaotic. It only takes a few minutes to clear out and wipe down a cluttered kitchen drawer or side table.

I look at the framed photos and art on our walls and decide if I need to update the photos or even the frames. When I notice something that feels dated, it’s time for a quick edit. I love a sterling frame for its timelessness.

I also edit my accessories and move them around to create interest: a vase residing in the entryway moves to a shelf in the office, and a soft throw blanket that’s been on the living room sofa goes to an accent chair in the bedroom to instantly create a cozy reading nook.

On my next grocery trip, I make sure to pick up hydrangeas – I like paper white or baby blue – and orchids. They’re low maintenance but elegant and signal the coming of spring. This season, I fell in love with lemon cypress and olive tree topiaries to freshen the front door. A lemon cypress topiary sits on a table on my front porch, its verdant green leaves greeting me every time I come home.

A deep clean can feel overwhelming, but I make sure to get the windows cleaned and vacuum the entire house after making these small design changes. I love fresh scents in my home, so it feels decadent to use a citrus room spray or burn candles after the house is vacuumed.

The art of living is important. Our moods, work and relationships are affected by our surroundings, so I like to make sure my home feels fresh and inviting. It’s a rejuvenating form of self-care as we enter into a new year, cultivating what Camus calls that inner “invincible summer.”

Celeste Randolph is an interior designer in Los Altos. For more information, visit

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