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posted: 3/24/2013 5:00 AM

An enclosed porch comes out of hibernation

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  • Feather your nest: Furnish your front porch for spring with a distinctive birdhouse chair.

      Feather your nest: Furnish your front porch for spring with a distinctive birdhouse chair.
    Courtesy of Country Sampler/Brian Nightengale

  • Umbrella of the ball: Have a parasol that's too pretty to save for a rainy day? Re-imagine it as an innovative alternative to a run-of-the-mill front-door wreath.

      Umbrella of the ball: Have a parasol that's too pretty to save for a rainy day? Re-imagine it as an innovative alternative to a run-of-the-mill front-door wreath.
    Courtesy of Country Sampler/Brian Nightengale

  • Bright spots: Try a "floating" accent, such as the forsythia-dotted wreath attached to a salvage-style mirror.

      Bright spots: Try a "floating" accent, such as the forsythia-dotted wreath attached to a salvage-style mirror.
    Courtesy of Country Sampler/Brian Nightengale

  • The wicker the better: This white bench complements the wicker furniture Mary Waight of Sycamore picked up at an antiques fair.

      The wicker the better: This white bench complements the wicker furniture Mary Waight of Sycamore picked up at an antiques fair.
    Courtesy of Country Sampler/Brian Nightengale

  • Rabbit by bit: Put something on a pedestal.

      Rabbit by bit: Put something on a pedestal.
    Courtesy of Country Sampler/Brian Nightengale

  •  

 
By Elizabeth Preston Morrissey
Country Sampler magazine

Everyone looks forward to some special aspect of spring's arrival, whether it's seeing colorful bulbs burst into bloom, packing away the snow shovel or dusting off boxes of Easter decorations.

For Sycamore homeowner Mary Waight, exchanging winter's deep freeze for warmer temperatures means a return to her enclosed porch, a frequent relaxing spot for her, her husband, Gary, and their petite terrier mix, Rudy.

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"We start using the porch again the minute it's warm enough," Waight says. "My husband listens to the radio and does his crossword puzzles, and I like to read out there. It's a favorite spot of our dog, too."

One of the many renovated areas of the home -- part of which is about 130 years old -- the porch features woodwork and flooring painted in light hues for a clean look.

Outfitted with white wicker furniture and similar-finish accessories, the room serves as a cheerful welcome for the Waights' three children and six grandchildren, all of whom congregate at the house for Easter every year.

"All six grandchildren come for an Easter egg hunt," Waight says. "We do it out in the yard and have special golden eggs, and it's a lot of fun."

For a little eggs-tra inspiration this year, the Waights invited Country Sampler stylists Sally-Jo Enstad, Catherine Parker and Debbie Plantery to share some innovative ideas for pairing up the family's own spring-themed decor with new seasonal accents.

Read on for 15 clever ways to create a delightful Easter scene.

Rabbit by bit

1. Put it on a pedestal. Whether in the center of your brunch table or atop a tea cart on the porch, give spring holiday accents, such as this crackle-finish bunny, a boost on a footed cake plate. "Placing items up a few inches on a pedestal opens up a lot of space underneath for dishes, books or other items," Plantery says.

2. Pick a pepper. Want a festive twist on traditional tulips? Get your vegetables! Poke floral tape-wrapped dowels into red, yellow and orange miniature sweet peppers. Insert the faux flower stems into floral foam tucked inside colorful pots along with a few silk leaves and a sprinkling of moss.

Bright spots

3. Stay afloat. Mary maintains her porch's airy quality with an unobtrusive floating wall shelf that lets its seasonal contents -- including a cute birdhouse, a bunny figure and an empty green frame -- stand out.

4. Reflect your style. To keep your space light and breezy, incorporate another "floating" accent, such as the forsythia-dotted wreath attached to a salvage-style mirror. Use a length of invisible fishing line or an easy-release plastic decor hook to cover your wreath-hanging tracks.

5. En-choy yourself. Enhance a tablescape's texture by wrapping baby bok choy leaves around tulips nestled into water tubes and tying on a pastel ribbon. Place the posies individually on the tabletop or group a pair in a decorative wheelbarrow filled with rainbow-palette jelly beans.

6. Get the rugs out. Drape a colorful, simply patterned accent rug across a small table instead of a bulky tablecloth or an oversize runner.

7. Fill the void. To really welcome spring, outfit any available space with appropriate decor, such as displaying felt eggs in a vintage bird cage or resting a hooked bunny pillow on a chair.

Umbrella of the ball

8. Burst with joy. Have a parasol that's too pretty to save for a rainy day? Re-imagine it as an innovative alternative to a run-of-the-mill front-door wreath. Arrange artificial long-stem tulips or roses and forsythia branches inside the umbrella, and then tie on a sunny yellow ribbon to cinch the blossoms in place. Loop another length of ribbon around the umbrella handle for use as a hanger.

9. Trellis it like it is. "Pretty outdoor flags are a decorating mainstay, so it's fun to experiment with how they are displayed," Enstad says. To give this bunny pennant visual oomph, the stylists re-purposed a long-handled trowel as a hanger for the flag and tied it onto a fan trellis planted in a basket of wheatgrass.

10. Brighten your load. Draw attention to a more petite accent, such as the pint-size English cottage perched beside the flag display, by placing a vibrant booster beneath it. Here, a yellow basket punctuates the spring vignette and coordinates with the umbrella arrangement's ribbon. Nearby, a rag rug picks up on the hues and softens the scene with its pastel palette.

11. Feather your nest. Furnish your front porch for spring with a distinctive birdhouse chair that can provide either a place to sit or a handy spot for showcasing gardening tools arranged into a stylish setup.

The wicker the better

12. Bench your star players. "Naturally, tight spaces work better with furniture that fits," Parker says. "For example, use a narrow bench as a coffee table so there's room to move around." This white bench complements the wicker furniture Waight picked up at an antiques fair. The piece hosts an Easter-themed grouping of yellow, white and green felt eggs tucked into a basket accompanied by a whimsical bunny figure.

13. Be a forsythia of nature. Turn a decorative ceramic bowl into an improvised Easter basket by inserting the ends of a wired faux branch into a block of floral clay. Grow wheatgrass around the clay as camouflage.

14. Call attention. Don't let a corner display go unnoticed: Incorporate a bright-colored element to draw the eye. The stylists combined a textured-rich beehive, a little yellow gourd duck and a sweet photo frame alongside a red pitcher-base lamp that makes sure visitors take notice.

15. Take your plates. Raid your cupboards for accents that look as at home on the porch as they do in your kitchen. From colorful plates grouped on the wall to a majolica-like cabbage compote to an oblong bowl filled with votives nestled in jelly beans, Waight's dishes delight the eye throughout the porch she enjoys so much.

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