There’s something about spring that makes us want to mix up our interiors. Much of our inclination is practical — if we’re going to sit outside in the evenings again, we’ll need to drag out the patio furniture, and if the weather is going to keep getting warmer, we’ll want to fold up the heavy comforters in favor of light-weight quilts and blankets.
Some of our craving for change, however, seems more like a reflection of nature. As plants come to life again, we want to come alive, too. An updated, spring-inspired interior can inspire a welcome change in perspective, and it helps us enjoy our lives a bit more as the season slides into summer. Read on for our top tips from Dering Hall designers on how to easily refresh your interiors for spring.
1. Greet the Season, Regardless of the Weather
For many designers, spring is a state of mind, rather than a seasonal experience. “There is no spring in Maine,” says Linda Banks, principal at Banks Design Associates in Falmouth, Maine. “We have mud season, and then at the end of May, the leaves pop out bright green. So in mid-March, while everyone’s posting about pansies and crocus, up north we are still chipping ice off our steps.”
Those in other parts of the country agree that their experience of spring doesn’t line up with its cultural associations. “Since I live in Palm Beach, Florida, I don't have to suffer through much winter,” says Annie Santulli, founder of Annie Santulli Designs. “So spring arrives very early and isn't much of a change.”
“I catch the morning sun with my coffee on the terrace wearing my vintage, full-length beaver coat, and my PJs on underneath,” Banks says of her daily spring routine in Maine. “The snow is melting and the sun is shining.... I last about ten to fifteen minutes and run back inside to the fireplace.”
If your spring doesn't match up with the stock image you have in mind, you can still find a way to celebrate the new season. Los Angeles may not experience harsh winters, but Sabrina Speer of D2 Interiors still updated her space with greenery this year. "Even for us, after a chilly and rainy winter, I had to go buy some new plants on the first day of spring," she says.
2. Change Your Perspective
When spring comes, we seem to want to notice it, even when the weather doesn’t shift much. Making small — or large — changes around the house can help cultivate an appreciation for the connection between our own homes and the greater world that surrounds us. Start to look at your space from a different perspective, and act accordingly.
“I love small adjustments that help you keep appreciating your environment and seeing things from a fresh perspective,” notes Laura Hodges of Laura Hodges Studio in Baltimore, Maryland. Allison Garcy, owner of Allison Garcy Interiors, agrees: “Often you do not have to rush out and get all new pieces, but viewing things you love from different angles makes the room feel unfamiliar in a good way.”
3. Throw it Out
Many designers comment that one of the first steps in refreshing your interiors is to throw out the objects that no longer work for you and your space, à la Marie Kondo. [For more tips on spring cleaning and organization, check out this guide from Dering Hall.]
“Spring is a perfect time to look around and pick out any pieces of furniture, bedding, towels, or really anything that is 'the weakest link' and get it out of there,” says Caroline Kopp of Caroline Kopp Interior Design. “Replace it with something nicer and more supportive of the way you want to live.” From the living room to the kitchen, every room and storage space in the home is subject to scrutiny. Vani Sayeed, owner of Vani Sayeed Studios in Boston, also cleans out her kitchen cabinets when spring arrives. "I also go through my kitchen cabinets every spring to clean out chipped dinnerware and donate dishes that I no longer use," she says.
Spring is all about cultivating happiness, so in the words of Kondo, if something doesn't "spark joy," get rid of it. "Life is too short to live with furniture you don’t like anymore," says Kopp.
4. Move Stuff Around
So how do you initiate this change in perspective, if it doesn’t arrive naturally with the warmer weather? Just stand in a different position in the room, and start moving. “I like to literally move things around — shift the energy by moving furniture placements and getting a new view,” says Tory Savery, owner of Savery Design in Philadelphia. She adds a few ways to update a space without much effort: “Change the rugs around between rooms or roll back a rug to expose hardwood. You can have a huge impact by moving the artwork around to different locations — this always brings a fresh perspective."
"Change is always a good option, even if it is just shuffling around your favorite things," says Marina Mizruh of Chimera Interiors in Los Angeles. "Looking at things from a different point of view can make items look new."
5. Bet on the Basics — Walls, Windows & Lighting
Because windows are responsible for filtering in natural light, focusing on the windows can brighten a room, bringing the outdoors in and transforming the space for spring. “I get the windows washed every spring,” comments Garcy. “It instantly lights up the space and takes away the stale city winter feeling.”
"One of my go-to ideas is updating the lighting, which automatically casts the room in a new, more attractive glow, says Hodges. "Natural lighting is also an easy way to freshen a space, so updating your window treatments to allow for more natural light helps to brighten the space."
Florals and colors are always strong seasonal trends, Savery and other designers note, and can easily be incorporated into a room. Likewise, paint can help lighten up a design. Banks recommends repainting faded trim in a coat of bright white, like “Decorator’s White” from Benjamin Moore & Co. For her own interiors, Mizruh turns to a new coat of paint as well. "Usually spring starts with a fresh paint job and boxes for donations," she explains.
Santulli pays careful attention to her walls, but she prefers a chic wallcovering in place of paint. “Adding wallpaper is one easy way to introduce a fresh pattern and/or color to a design,” she says.
6. Make Way for Plants
Creative arrangements of flowers and plants are a quick, easy refresh that brings organic elements into the room. When thinking of spring, “I always think of the outdoors,” says Speer. “Whatever brings the outdoors in and the indoors out.” For Speer, this means, specifically, indoor trees. “If you can, I recommend investing in a quality tree and having a professional take care of it on a regular basis,” she says.
Other designers, like Banks, favor a natural arrangement. “I put a wild mixture of daffodils, hyacinth, and tulips in a big, vintage wooden trough and pack it with live moss,” says Banks. “It looks great on my long farm table.”
Kristin Peake of Kristin Peake Interiors observes that flowers can bring color to a room. “Add spring by cutting fresh forsythia or cherry blossoms from outside, and put them in a huge clear vase to bring a pop of color to any room," she recommends.
7. Swap, Swap, Swap
Simply reorganizing collections and changing out winter accessories for lighter, brighter ones can go a long way toward reinvigorating a space. “An easy way to refresh a design is by curating a bookshelf with different accessories and books,” says Sayeed. She also suggests “switching out throw pillows and a throw blanket, recomposing a gallery wall, and arranging greens and fresh flowers in casual containers.”
“I tell my clients, switch out your lampshade," says Peake. "Make them dark in winter and fall, and change them out to white or linen in spring and summer." Like other designers, she also believes that swapping thick hand towels for linen can instantly updated a space, and she advises bringing out white linens in the spring with bursts of color in the sham or pillows.
Garcy turns to rugs for an instant update. “I like to bring in larger sisal rugs and runners to throw down underneath existing rugs,” she says. “They bring in more natural texture and a beachy, effervescent vibe."
For people who like to entertain in spring, tablescapes can be freshened up through new dishware and placemats. Banks replaces dark winter plates with French, nautical-themed dishware and takes her blue placemats out of storage. Kopp also enjoys seasonal tablescapes — for a recent Saint Patrick's Day party, she chose emerald votive candles to give extra personality to the table settings.
8. Update the Artwork
Many designers mention the value of bright artworks and their impact on a space. "Spring is the perfect time to rotate the artwork to emphasize themes of growth and brightness," says Kopp. "I say this a lot, but I love a huge piece of photography — it could be any image that uplifts you when you see it."
Of course, if possible, you can buy high-end artworks, but art doesn't need to be a major investment. "You can add botanicals or inexpensive art to your walls during the spring, and for the fall and winter replace it with darker or more moody pieces," Peake recommends.
Art is also a great way to shape the character of a room in surprising ways. "A large piece of bold art can transform a space," says Santulli.
9. Explore the Outdoors
Those with outdoor space will likely spend more time lounging outside as the season kicks into high gear, which means, often, that outdoor areas will require a refresh, too. And updating exteriors can be a lot of fun. “Spring makes me want to go to the garden center and get flowers and bushes, pot them, and start getting ready for al fresco dining,” says Peake. “It makes me start to clean my outdoor cushions and furniture, and spruce them up with new pillows and accessories. It makes me want to clean up the exterior of my front yard to have wonderful curb appeal.”
Updating her outdoor enviroment is a source of delight for Santulli as well. “What I like to change is the outdoor living space," says the designer. "I take advantage of natural spring foliage and coordinate fabrics and shapes with the surroundings."
Hodges has quick fixes to craft a stimulating outdoor design. “I like to string bistro lights across a patio or terrace, add large planters with seasonal arrangements, and brighten outdoor furniture with new throw pillows," she says.
10. Invest in Accessories or Furniture
Like other designers, Peake recommends a wealth of tiny updates, including new bowls, wicker or rattan trays, pillows in linen or floral motifs, and fresh scented candles. “Capri Blue from Anthropologie is a favorite go-to [candle] of mine, and it adds a beautiful aroma to your interior,” she says.
Banks also notes an inexpensive way to update a space for spring: "I fill a giant, white mixing bowl with lemons," she says.
For anyone ready for a larger investment, Sayeed suggests curved furnishings. "If you are ready to update and change out your furniture this season, give it the the curved treatment with plush rounded sofas and curvy armchairs, paired with oversized ottomans instead of hard-edged coffee tables," says the designer. "It makes rooms comfortable and inviting."
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