The calendar tells you it's spring. So why does your home still look dark and heavy? Use these easy ideas to give your place and your spirits a springtime lift.
1. Let There Be Light
Create a window display: If you have a private window, remove the old curtains to let the light flow in. Install glass shelves, and show off an arrangement of colored glass bottles and vases, set closely together, to create an artistic and beautiful privacy screen.
Add new lampshades and soft lights: Replace old, heavy lampshades with lighter styles featuring pleats or folds in creamy silks, or recover an old shade with a cheerful, bright chintz. Replace white light bulbs with lavender or pink ones for a natural, soft glow.
2. Create a Natural Wonder
Force spring flowers: Forcing spring-flowering branches is a beautiful and easy way to capture spring and bring it inside. Arrange a simple vase of forsythia, quince, plum or other shrub branches. Clip stems and place them in lukewarm water. Try to find branches at least a foot long, gently mist, and watch the colorful blooms burst far ahead of schedule.
Set up an indoor cloche: Check out garden shops for miniature greenhouses, created from wood and glass. They come in tabletop size and larger. Put them over your plants to cloak them in warmth and humidity that is ideal to help plants thrive during winter. Many have open spaces at the top for easy watering. Fill with hibiscus, tulips and ivy to make a stylish impression. Place on a coffee table or tuck in a corner.
Design a tablescape: Inexpensive terracotta pots painted white and planted with paper whites, hyacinths and tulips add cheerful color. Set in groups on a coffee table.
Add green topiaries in different shapes, and place a vase of pussy willows a classic harbinger of spring in the center of your design. Sprinkle natural, colored round stones or colored glass pebbles around your pots. For greater impact, group plants together.
Install an indoor window box: If you have deeply set windowsills, set the box directly on the sill. Explore antique and secondhand shops for a small wire garden table, and use it as a base for your box. Place it directly under a window, where plants will thrive in the light.
Before you fill your box with soil and plants, line it with plastic to prevent leakage. Or set plants in the box individually, placing each pot on a small tray or plate to catch drips.
3. Factor in Fabric
Indulge in new sheets: Splurge on extra-soft, 250-count Egyptian cotton sheets. An all-white sheet set feels refreshing and restful.
Go for texture: For an instant facelift, add textured fabric such as a matelasse bedspread or old-fashioned patchwork quilt. Drape a spread over a round table for an instant table skirt. The luxurious weight of matelasse and quilting works wonders on a variety of furniture.
Re-cover seats in gorgeous silk: For an instant change, find a beautiful silk fabric you adore and use it to re-cover dining room chair seats, or your favorite single chair. Many chairs have seats that are easily removed with a screwdriver. Remove seat, measure, and cut fabric into a shape large enough to tuck edges under. Use a staple gun to attach silk around the seat.
4. Room Service
Redocorate a small room: Take the smallest room and make the biggest change. For example, transform the look of a tiny powder room by painting walls creamy ivory or soft white, switching weighty curtains to simple sheers, and hanging a gold mirror over your vanity.
Roll up your rugs: If you're lucky enough to have hardwood floors under your area rugs, why not roll up those heavy things and store them until next fall? Replace with colorful rag rugs for an American or French country look. Put down a sisal rug and watch how it completely changes the room. Many carpet stores offer huge sales in January and February.
Bring outdoor furniture inside: Bring in the wrought iron; vintage wire tables, bird cages, and chairs add a whimsical touch. Wicker and rattan furniture bring in a lighter tropical feel of sunny days and lush greenery.