As the light of spring shines on cluttered coffee tables, chipped woodwork and deflated pillows, it's obvious that our homes take a hit in the long hard slog from Thanksgiving through the end of winter.
"Historically, my phone starts ringing the week after the inauguration," Erin Paige Pitts, an interior designer from Gibson Island, Md., says. "People finally have time to look around the house and they are starting to think ahead."
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Pitts has suggestions for some fast joy: Put green topiaries around the house. Treat yourself to a new throw in an unexpected color. Pop some evergreens in your front porch planters. Dine by candlelight.
Though it's now spring, temperatures can still seem more like those of winter. In this chill, "people want something that is fresh and crisp, that looks new but can also be a bit cozy," says Vanessa Holden, creative director at West Elm.
As you think about adding to your home wardrobe, play around with what you already have and maybe move some furniture around. Tiptoe out of your comfort zone. "We all have to keep moving forward," says Jean Blum, vice president at Wisteria, the Dallas-based catalogue of updated traditional furnishings.
For inspiration, we reached out to some home retailers for their latest products and ideas. Here is a report.
'The Great Gatsby' and 'Downton Abbey' effect
"I get a lot of inspiration for the looks we show from the fashion collections," says Gary Babcock, vice president of Arhaus. And British TV period dramas. So this spring line reflects the influence of the Roaring Twenties, art deco and sets from the upcoming "Great Gatsby" movie.
"'Downton Abbey' just entered the Jazz Age, so the English country house look is going to start to change with a bit of sparkle and glamour," Babcock says. The store has mirrored chests, beaded pillows and faux fur throws, plus purple and lavender paired with silver and metallics. "All of this mixes beautifully with anyone's brown wood furniture," says Babcock. "It really dresses it up." Arhaus offers a Paloma parlor sofa ($3,399) in "Cannes silver sage" velvet which can be accompanied by their Amelia ($1,649) mirrored top coffee table.
The statement piece
The Patchwork Dresser ($999) by West Elm has the handcrafted appeal of a quilt. The dresser has five drawers and a cabinet, each done in a different wood front.
In addition to the eye-catching design, it's "a double-duty piece designed for small-space living but that will move along with you," says West Elm's Holden. "Maybe one year it will be in your bedroom, another in the living room." The clean architecture of the white case and the veneers should stand the test of time. In future roles, the dresser might anchor a home office or serve as a media console.
The Industrial Age
Who couldn't use more file space? CB2 has taken a familiar form, the basic powder-coated steel file cabinet, and recast it in a nontraditional color: mint. Line up three of these babies ($159 each), which are called TPS: Totally Perfect Storage and are on casters, and top them with a steel Go-Cart White Console Table ($169). Ryan Turf, general merchandising manager for CB2, says "something with a such a familiar form, like a filing cabinet, done in an unexpected color can change the look of an entire office or hallway." It would be great at the back of a sofa. He says, "It makes a statement and looks modern."
The bedroom pick-me-up
Buying new bed linens is one of the quickest ways to refresh your look, says Pat Eckerstrom, executive vice president at Crate & Barrel. "Textiles are a very approachable way to make things happen," she says. "Many people don't have much going on in their bedroom except furniture. You change the bedding and you have a whole new room." Jaipur linens ($35 to $230) inject a bit of global chic by layering neutral taupes and putties in various textures and patterns.
The depth and richness of the color of denim jeans is created using ages-old dying techniques in India and Japan. "It's one of my personal favorite colors," says West Elm's Holden who believes that like a favorite pair of jeans, indigo interiors go with almost everything. "It's very relatable." You'll find indigo rugs, bed linens, pillows and upholstery, shown with other deep blues as well as grays. "We also like it with bright, clean, white in the bedroom or living room," Holden says. West Elm's indigo Everett loveseat ($899), upholstered in a velvet they call "ink blue, " can anchor a living or family room.
Something French is always in style
Louis XVI chairs, whether carved and gilded or the clear acrylic, are decorating staples. At Wisteria, designers have updated the classic oval-backed chair ($389) in weathered oak with pastel Belgian linen upholstery, giving the chair an eye-candy appeal. It is also available in an armless version ($299). Blum says the lavender, aqua, sage and French blue "add a bit of color to a traditional space and give a room a more vibrant look." The chair would be at home in a dining room, bedroom, living room or used as an office chair.
"In a few years if you get tired of it, you can reupholster it," Blum says. "This chair will always be relevant."
Grow up and get a bar cart
In the first episode of Season 2 of Lena Dunham's "Girls" on HBO, Hannah and Elijah throw a housewarming party by corralling whatever booze they have onto their kitchen table. Wouldn't it be nice to have some sort of cart to arrange bottles and all those bar accessories you got as gifts?
As we await the arrival of warmer weather, be festive and invite friends over for a cocktail party.
Celebrate by splurging on a cart that has a small footprint but a lot of storage, says Crate & Barrel's Eckerstrom. Arranging your liquor and wineglasses on it will also free up storage space in kitchen cabinets. One solution is Crate & Barrel's Collins ($799) trolley-style cart with three shelves and two stemware racks.