Spring is a time of awakening and renewal, for our yards, homes, and selves. We sweep off the winter blues from our souls and perk up with the sunshine. Our steps are quicker, and like the birds, we have sweet songs in our hearts.
Spring is a time for cleaning—whether it’s raking the last leaves from our yards, mulching the flower beds, de-cluttering a room, or a full-out spring cleaning. Maybe this spring it’s time to do more than clean. Re-decorating our surroundings will help lift our spirits and get us ready for warm-weather entertaining. We asked local experts for spring home makeovers tips to inspire us to revive our homes and ourselves. Choose easy fixes like new paint, accessories, or counter tops—or maybe it’s time for a new carpet, trendy furniture, or updated appliances. Keep reading for ideas to make your home shine this spring.
De-cluttering can be a prelude to a house makeover, says Alicia Thomasson, owner of AT Home Interiors and a self-proclaimed “decorating therapist.” She suggests inviting someone else to help. “A friend or decorator can depersonalize the process for us,” she said. Together you can consider questions like: Is this a color I enjoy? Is this item worn out? Does this item have sentimental value? Do I want to look at this? Does this have a place in what I’m trying to achieve in my house?
Look at your space, Alicia said. Maybe have a glass of tea or wine with the person of your choice, asking the questions that will help the sorting process be less tedious. Would you like to move that chair or piece of artwork to another room, sell it, give it away, or store it for later? Just swapping pieces around can be an inexpensive way to keep your house looking fresh, Alicia explained.
“If you’re accessorizing on a budget, shop your own house first,” Alicia said. “Look in your other rooms, move items around. Take everything off your walls and move the pictures around.”
Accessories are the easiest way to freshen any room, especially if your walls are neutral colors. Pillows are an inexpensive way to add color. Changing a dated picture frame into a more modern style or one that blends into your décor’s theme can freshen your home’s look, too.
If you’re not sure what color furniture you’d be comfortable with, head to your closet, Alicia said. Are you a formal dresser or casual? What are you favorite colors? What do you love wearing? Your closet holds those answers. The styles and colors of your clothes will suit you best for your furniture.
“Your furniture is your outfit, and your accessories are the jewelry of your room,” Alicia explained. Pillows, candles, and artwork help create your space.
Another great way to bring a springtime feeling into your home is with fresh flowers, Alicia said. Accessorize your rooms with colorful nosegays and a large bouquet in the middle of your table. If your outdoor allergies won’t allow you to bring the spring into your interior, buy the best quality faux greenery that you can afford. “Every room needs some plant life,” she said.
If you’re interested in hiring a decorator or designer, Alicia suggests that you interview several people to find one that you really connect with. “Make sure that you can communicate well with them,” she said. “The house is an extension of you, and your wants and needs should be understood.”
“We all deserve a home that makes us proud and happy,” she said. “Your house expresses you. It doesn’t need to be ‘correct’ as far as the decorating world goes,” she said. “It just needs to work for you.”
CREATE AN OASIS
Claus Ihlemann, co-owner with Robert Roman, of Decorum Furniture also advises his customers to consult their closets “to find the basis for your color scheme,” he said. Also look at your art work to find colors you’re comfortable with, he suggested.
This spring lighter wood finishes—like medium cherry, maple, light ash and light oak— are popular, Claus said. “The lighter tones allow more of the natural beauty and character of the wood to shine through,” he explained. “You can see the wood graining.” He’s also seeing a “fair amount of free-form edging,” which is when a plank of wood has a more natural shape edge to it.
“In fabric, we’re seeing a lot of natural cotton and linen tones,” Claus said. “Colors like creamy off-white, terra cotta, forest, aqua greens, emerald greens, shades of yellow, and a wide range of brown tones blend so well with so many other things.”
Many customers are looking to add more color to their decor, Claus said. “When the economy improves, people get a little bit more ambitious about using color,” he said—even if it’s done with a base color sofa and then putting colors on it to brighten it up. When people are happier, they explore their possibilities, he explained, but during economic downturns, most play it safe. “People are often afraid of making a mistake with color, but you shouldn’t be,” he said.
Another way to add color or interest to your room is with a great looking area rug, Claus advised. “We carry a great selection, from bright contemporary to more eclectic styles,” he said. “It can add a fresh new look to your room.”
“We’re finding that people are really focusing on very much more informal, casual living,” Claus said. “For example, you don’t see a lot in formal dining rooms, but you see lots of ways to assemble friends for dinner and dining.” Today’s open floor plans bring the kitchen, dining, living, and playing areas together. Outdoor spaces are also becoming more popular.
“There’s a great move to a much more informal, comfortable lifestyle,” Claus said. “Daily life has so much stress. It’s important to bring an oasis into your home for your family and friends,” he explained.
FRESH, NEW LOOK
Ready to spruce up your kitchen? New cabinets and hardware are an affordable option, said Erin Flavin, design coordinator with B&T Kitchen and Baths in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Updated knobs and pulls can really freshen your kitchen’s look, she said. Or consider a new faucet for your sink if a new sink isn’t in your budget at the moment.
Erin knows from experience with her mom’s kitchen makeover that a full-scale gut and re-do adds up to inconvenience. She said they ate microwave dinners for weeks and washed dishes in the bathroom until the process was complete. But you don’t need to go to extremes. Start with a simple paint job to give a new feel to the room. “There are a lot of little touches that you can do for a fresh, new look,” she said.
White remains a popular paint color for kitchens, Erin said. A newer trend in cabinetry is stains, including gray tones. If your cabinets are in good condition, how about changing out your counter tops for a new look? Granite countertops remain popular, but many choose quartz instead because it’s non-porous and doesn’t stain. “It’s less maintenance,” Erin said, “and even though you spend more money up-front, you don’t have to seal it.”
Splashes of color are still in, Erin said. You might rock a white or stained kitchen with a colored vanity or island. Very contemporary or transitional styling is in, she said. Simple, flat lines. No “frou-frou” extra on doors. A mixture of two styles works, too. Stainless appliances still rule, but in general the trend is moving away from traditional styles, Erin said.
Since the kitchen is probably the most popular room in your home, you want it to reflect both your needs and your personality. Stop in B & T Kitchens’ showroom for inspiring ideas, and then start with simple, inexpensive options for freshening your kitchen. Don’t forget a vase of flowers on the counter!
WHERE IDEAS BLOSSOM
Speaking of which, Courtney Hampton, marketing manager at McDonald Garden Center, said there are lots of ways to use plants to enhance your decor, both in and around your home.
Succulents, both indoor and outdoor, are very trendy now, Courtney said. Easy-care hens-and-chicks are a local perennial favorite. They’ve had a “huge run” on succulents for weddings, she said. It’s “all the rage” for bridal centerpieces.
They’re also seeing a “big run” on citrus trees, like lemons, limes, and oranges this year, Courtney said. They’re in containers since you have to bring them inside for the winter. But they look and smell great on your patio and deck for the warmer months.
“We’re seeing a big shift into edibles,” Courtney said. “From herbs to plants and trees, edibles are popular this year—peach, apple, and pear trees, grapes, figs, and herbs,” she continued. “We’re trying to incorporate them into decorative containers, as well as putting them into raised beds and in the ground.”
Spring is the time to plant your lettuce and herbs. Strawberries and blueberries are starting to fruit. If you don’t have room outside, this year Courtney said that spinach bowl edibles are popular for indoors. Try “simply salad bowls,” containers of delicious lettuce and spinach you can keep right in your kitchen and pick from each day. Clip off the outer growth, and the interior will keep growing for several weeks.
“Gardentainment” is trending this year, Courtney noted. People are creating outdoor rooms just like indoor ones—spaces that are convenient, comfy, and fun to entertain in. In addition, complete outdoor kitchens “are huge right now,” she said. “So are fire pits and pre-assembled fire bowls.”
McDonald has a plethora of early spring perennials and annuals, like primrose, scabiosa (pin cushion), snapdragon, and push daisy flowers. “They’re excellent for front-yard flower beds,” Courtney said. They also sell ever-popular spring blooming trees, like magnolia, cherry blossom, and red plum. And they sell a wide assortment of seed packets and seed-starting products for those inclined to start from the ground-up!
The pre-spring push was about landscaping design and installation, Courtney said. Evergreens and low-maintenance plants are always popular, like nandina, holly, and Indian hawthorn shrubs. “We offer flower bed design workshops from time to time,” she said, “and we encourage people to come in and plot out their flower beds with us.”
“We can help make custom-made containers,” Courtney said. Their one-on-one service and horticulture expertise is provided free of charge to customers. They also offer free workshops, including a recent one on moles and voles.
“Eighty percent of our plant material is locally grown,” Courtney said. They also outsource from local farms and suppliers, so the plants are already acclimated to our area. This makes for healthier, hardier plants, she said
The warmer months are a time to be with friends and family, both indoors and out. Make your gatherings memorable with fresh ideas for your home and yard. Whether you’re looking for new paint, pillows, or plumage, there’s no shortage of ideas. If you need inspiration, local experts are easy to find and eager to help.
• AT Home Interiors
757-761-4419 • www.athomeint.com
• B&T Kitchens and Baths
757-502-8625 • www.bandtkitchens.com
• Decorum Furniture
757-623-3100 • www.decorumfurniture.com
• McDonald Garden Center
Mary Ellen Miles is a freelance writer who lives in Virginia Beach.