Lighter, Brighter Interior Design

There’s nothing like our cold, gray winter to inspire lighthearted design.

For some tips to ditching midwinter design doldrums, we reached out to Swedish native Annika Christenson, interior designer and owner of Midnight Sun Antiques, and interior designer Susan Kroeger and owner of Susan Kroeger for the Home.

With Christenson’s Swedish-inspired design mantras of tread lightly and keep it natural, and Kroeger’s passion for color, we’re certain you’ll find more than a few simple changes to brighten up your home.

Add light

  • Time to pack away the colored and glittered candles for next holiday. Nothing brightens like pure white candles, set against the sparkle of crystal and glass, pewter and silver. And keep it light by skipping the fragrance. Christenson loves to brighten her evenings with candles grouped on a tray.
  • White Italian lights can add sparkle even after the holidays—whether strung on a large indoor plant or twinkling around a picture window.
  • Upgrade your lamps and lampshades and ditch the heavy metals and ornate designs; there’s no easier way to introduce a contemporary element to a tired traditional space. For Kroeger, a brilliantly hued ceramic lamp is the perfect place to add a pop of color. Christenson loves the classic, contemporary Noguchi white paper spheres or the ingenuity of traditional lamps in gorgeous custom colors offered by the Urban Electric Company.


  • Strip down your heavy drapery and opt for a more minimal, Swedish style that allows for optimum natural light.

Introduce color

  • Christenson suggests choosing a single accent color as a way to both visually limit clutter and add cheer to your space. Regardless of whether it’s cream or white, or pops of canary yellow or emerald green, a single accent color can be carried throughout your space using pillows, accent vases, artwork, flowers, lamps and more.


  • Remember, accents don’t have to match the color palette of your space and certainly don’t have to fall into the same style period. It’s in the juxtaposition of old and new, and hue tension, that style is achieved. Having that single color in mind, suggests Christenson, also makes it much easier to find the perfect treasure while scouring vintage stores and antique malls, or on your travels.
  • Revered for her use of color, Kroeger likes to spark a neutral backdrop with brilliantly hued pillows and throws, vases and trays, lamps and flowers—all elements easy to swap in and out as the season (and your mood) changes.

Curate your art

  • Give your favorite prints and paintings an update with new matting and frames.
  • Don’t be afraid to opt for passion over provenance. Gallery or garage sale, if a piece lifts your mood, it’s valuable art to you.


  • Since art isn’t meant to “match” your décor, move it around. Kroeger’s living room is a virtual gallery of rotating art.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix periods and styles. Collecting art over time and in special places keeps it authentic and prevents it from looking too cookie cutter.

Keep it fresh

  • Join the terrarium trend, or plant a few succulents and cacti in a favorite low bowl. And don’t forget the quintessential orchid. Even if you have a black thumb, these plants are low-key and hardy enough to endure minimal attention.


  • Skip the mixed bouquets and staid arrangements. Whether it’s bunches of supermarket roses, tulips or lilies, masses of flowers add a punch of color and springtime fragrance to a dull room.
  • Never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint for adding a clean, fresh feel to your space.



Photo captions:

Lead: Bright pinks and oranges add spark to a neutral background, by Susan Kroeger.
2: A brightly hued lamp and vibrant pillows brighten an otherwise traditional pairing, by Susan Kroeger.
3: A contemporary lamp and brightly hued sofa add just the right amount of visual tension to a room designed by Christenson.
4: Christenson chose this painting by a local Kansas City artist for its appeal, not its pedigree.
5: Pops of pink add pizazz to any decor, by Susan Kroeger.