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March 2005 Designing Dilemma's

Interior Designer Debbie Wiener

Designing Dilemma March 2005

Spring Break!

You wouldn’t know it by the weather, but spring is just around the corner. If you can’t wait for the snow to melt and the flowers to bloom, start decorating now for spring with these fresh and simple decorating tips:

  • Substitute those dark and heavy winter-looking toss pillows with brighter and lighter-colored toss pillows in cotton, silk and chintz (look no further than your closest Target for inspiration or DC’s Apartment Zero for whimsical pillows from Maharam). It’s easy and fun to shop for decorative pillows in local home stores and on-line. They’re an inexpensive way to freshen up a bed or sofa for spring and summer. Store the winter pillows in garbage bags and hide them under your bed till fall.


  • Camouflage a winter comforter in spring colors with a duvet cover. (Check out Garnet Hill and Pottery Barn on-line catalogs.) They’re easy to put on, washable, and can be removed and stored in the linen closet when cold weather returns.


  • Use fresh colors and textures in the small area rugs you should be using at front and back doors and in front of the kitchen sink. Look at cotton rag rugs, sisal and sea grass and new indoor/outdoor rugs in bright colors and patterns to protect floors while providing more of a springtime look to your home.


  • Lighten up your windows. Replace heavy drapes with ready-made panels in sheer voile, linen, silk or cotton (and get the winter drapes cleaned)! Fold back shutters and set your shades and blinds half way up to let in more light during daytime hours.


  • Show off your green thumb- even if it’s brown- by adding grasses, succulents and ivy to your pots and vases. Use “faux” green plants, cactus and grasses (they look so real it’s hard to tell the difference) to give a more natural look and feel to your décor. In kitchens and dining areas, fill bowls and jars with lemons and limes. Place artichokes and asparagus stems in water – the fruits and veggies make great-looking (and edible) spring-time kitchen accents.


  • Boost front door appeal with a spring-like makeover. Replace door mats with larger, colorful indoor/outdoor polypropylene mats that clean up with a garden hose (check out the colorful mats at Crate & Barrel). Purchase a few weather-resistant pots now to be ready for adding flowering plants when the cold weather breaks. Consider a bench or chair in all-weather wicker or in teak to add charm and a place for kids to remove muddy shoes before entering your home.


  • Add big color in small ways with paint. Infuse your home, inside and out, with spring-like colors of fresh greens and blues, buttery yellows and periwinkle (Try Benjamin Moore’s Bird’s Egg, Fernwood Green, Blue Orchid or Weston Flax). These colors coordinate well with almost any other color you are already using in your home and used in small ways, they make a big impact for a very small investment of time and money. Paint your front door for spring- it probably could use the extra protection from a new oil-based finish after a long winter. Choose accent spaces, like a windowless wall, the interior of a built-in bookcase, your fireplace surround, a flat area in crown molding or even the “teeth” of dental molding to add a small color infusion to an existing space.


  • Give your fireplace a spring cleaning. In addition to removing ashes and odor, clean glass doors and store any firewood outside to prevent insects and fungus in old wood from becoming unwanted spring and summer houseguests. Place a basket of ferns or ivy (real or “faux”) on top of firewood grates for a warm-weather look.


  • Brighten up tables settings with fresh table linens in bright stripes and outdoor motifs. Add small salad/dessert plates in leaf designs (my favorites are the green cabbage leaf dishes from Portugal available through Williams-Sonoma) or use colorful water and wine goblets with your everyday dishes to bring colorful summer style to your table.


  • Shed new light throughout your home by simply replacing bulbs and lamp shades on existing fixtures. For recessed lighting, switch standard bulbs to halogen flood lights- available in lighting specialty stores. Add full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs to table and floor lamps for a mood-boosting burst of daylight. Replace darker, cream-colored lamp shades with white linen or silk (the light coming out will be brighter) or choose a more whimsical, colorful clip-on shade from Target, Ikea or your local lighting store to get yourself ready for the laid-back summer ahead.

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