Original Article: Canada.com Edmonton Journal
Published: Feb 2007
EDMONTON - If everything went according to the calendar seasons, we'd be two-thirds of the way through the winter by now -- the winter solstice having occurred two months ago and the spring equinox scheduled to arrive March 21st, in a month.
But those of us who dwell along Latitude 53 east of the Rockies know a different reality: that winter will last much longer than the next four weeks; that spring may not show itself until summer solstice is fast approaching.
All the more reason to indulge in a late winter lift, in the form of some easy home decor ideas to chase away the darkness and usher in our longer (and generally) milder days.
The Journal At Home surveyed half a dozen experts on the topic.
A good way to throw off the heavy cloak of winter without jumping too quickly into spring is to change your textiles, says Sandy Katz of Cozy Peaches, a home decor and gift store in Lendrum.
"Moving from the heavier, rich, opulent colours we tend to use around the holidays and lightening that up a little with textiles, it can have a nice, inviting, still-wintery look, but lighter, whether it's with table cloths or runners."
French linens and Provencal-type fabrics inject a shot of colour now and will "hold their own as they go into spring," says Katz. "Another easy thing is to use beautiful tea towels on tables. There are lots of wonderful lighter fabrics, and little things like placing one in the middle of a coffee table or an end table is an inexpensive way to add a splash of colour and lighten the mood before the all-out switch to spring."
Bed linens and bedding accents always give people a lift, says Elizabeth Moland of Elegant Expressions, a home decor store in Riverbend. "The bedroom is where you spend half your time."
A few cushions with a spring motif present "a quick way to update a sofa," she says, while a new mat at the front door is another opportunity to freshen up. "Right away, when people arrive at the home, don't have a dirty old mat from the winter."
Take some time to create a fresh centerpiece. Moland says it can be something as simple as choosing a bowl, plate or apothecary jar and filling it with fresh fruit. "Let it inspire you to fill it with spring things, lemons, fresh tomatoes. It's a nice look."
At this time of year, Marianne Brown finds herself picking up tulips and primulas from the grocery store.
"I have to have something fresh," says Brown, of The Butler Did It catering service. "I buy bunches and bunches of tulips and like to do three or five glass cubes; I line them up on my dining room table. Or I pick up some primulas and put them in a pot and tuck them in a nice metal basket. It's a bright, easy accent."
A bonsai plant is a nice addition to a mantel at this time, says Vicki Hatton of Marlowe & Richards Florists. "We also sell quite a few jasmine. They have tiny white flowers and are grown on a hoop, kind of like a topiary. And jasmine has a very light, soft smell, so when people come in the home it's a very nice light fragrance," she says. "You treat them as a house plant, then you can move them outdoors in the summer, into the patio planter."
This is also a good time to make up a nice spring bulb planter for the home, with results in about eight weeks, Hatton says. "Get a low rectangular dish, put rocks in the bottom, set the bulbs in there and you can watch the roots form and grow," she says. "Entwining something like curly willow among the bulbs is a neat effect."
Bamboo is another easy-care plant that will bring the green feeling of outdoors inside and will last forever, says Melanie Thiessen of Desidero Home & Gift. "A palm is also nice -- the Designer Guys use them in almost every room, and it looks so good."
Spring cleaning is a ritual for many at this time, and it goes without saying that a sparkling room is a more pleasant room. A spare, sparkling room is even more pleasant.
Editing clutter offers both aesthetic and psychological payoffs. That's genuine editing, not rearranging piles in corners and on counter tops. If you find you're really missing the knick-knack that had pride-of-place on the sideboard for all those years, you can always take it out of the storage box and put it back.
Don't be afraid to edit what's on your walls, either.
A STENCILED SURFACE
Stencils can offer a lot of scope for a room pick-me-up, and they're not just grape vines any more, says stencil artist and home stylist Rhonda Brynko of Upstage Interiors.
"There is anything from big, bold patterns to as subtle as you want," she says, pointing out that you can do a portion of a wall, an entire wall or repeat a motif around the room.
"It depends on the stencil and the person. You could also take down a picture and put something up where it used to be, make it an art piece that demands the attention of a work of art," she says. "Or you could go very subtle, do a bathroom with cream coloured walls and a stencil in a slightly darker cream."
Brynko likes to work with modern, graphic stencils and generally uses latex paint after attaching the stencil to the wall with a sticky-tack-type spray (low tack). "I use very little paint -- if it's too much it'll bleed under the stencil and you won't get a clean line. And a dry brush is very important," she advises. "You also want the walls to be as smooth and flat as possible, so with a textured wall, it's a little tough. Generally, if you have a wall that's a bit bumpier you can use a hand brush. A short, flat brush is easier to use than a roller -- a roller has to be very dry. Put a little on, give it a second to dry, put a little more on, that's the best way with a roller."
Friends just finished putting a chrysanthemum pattern in one corner of their bedroom, she says, "and it was quite stunning, very bold. And they can paint over it next time they paint, and not have to worry about it."
Metallic paint offers a look with sheen. "For my niece's wall, and she has turquoise walls, we did silver bamboo in stencil all around the room. It really pops."
Botanical stencils are having a resurgence, and "damask is huge and very popular again," she says. "If you do it in a repeat, you can get the look of wallpaper without putting wallpaper up."
We've been noticing how the days are getting longer. Amplify that light with some spring-coloured candles, tapers or pillars on a mantel, says Moland. Think about reflective surfaces in general, "whether crystal, cut glass or candles," Thiessen advises, "and place them where the light can really reflect off them. Even to put a bit of rock, reflective glass, marbles, in a floral container (will work), and big and chunky is always good for glassware."
New this year are glass tiles which offer colour, light and sophistication to a kitchen or spa bathroom. According to Patricia Hart McMillan, designer and author of Glass Tile Inspirations for Kitchens and Baths (Schiffer), it's a material with unlimited possibilities. "The design potential is inexhaustible. No wonder people are totally intrigued," she says, noting that glass tile is produced in cast, enameled, and fused glass and comes in pastels, neutrals, jewel tones and metallics with finishes that are frosted, crackled, gloss, gold-flecked, iridescent, matte or opaque.
Mirrors don't just amplify light, they amplify space, too. Some of the new styles are really mirrors as art, or they reflect in a way that turns the viewer into art, says Moland.
"There are some new 3D cuts. And putting a new mirror on the wall makes the room look like you're seeing right through it. Even placing a new standing mirror against the wall (does the same thing)," she says. "Another neat thing we're seeing is large, square Venetian glass on a mirrored ottoman. Put that in the room -- it's square, low, all mirrored, so anything you display on that is a fabulous decorating look. And if there's any light in the room, it'll sparkle."