Design notes

Finish the Chores, and Hit the Stores

Spring Cleaning through the Eyes of a Designer

Spring has sprung, the weather’s warming, and it’s time to freshen up the old homestead. Inside and out. So what’s the secret to making the whole process fun? That’s easy! Instead of looking at spring cleaning like it’s a chore, consider it a time to give your home a stunning new makeover.


Think fresh! Think new! Think organized!


Clean out drawers and closets. Unclutter, and give whatever feels or looks like junk the heave-ho. Liberate yourself from things you know you’ll never use again (even though the hobgoblins in your head tell you to keep them), and make room for the new!

Repurpose, too! You’ll be surprised how easy is!


Take down all the accessories you’ve got displayed on that tired old shelf in the living room and rearrange it—in a completely different way. Or add a few new pieces to your collection!

Got pictures hanging around, collecting dust?Spruce them up with a new frame. Oval and circular designs are a great way to give a new look to an old piece of art, and if you shop around, you’ll find you can pick up some great new looks for a song. Spring cleaning is all about renewal. Rejuvenation. It’s about taking an old friend (your home) and dressing it up so it sparkles in a whole different way. So be bold! Be simple! And above all, take chances. Move your artwork around. Change out color photos with black and white or sepia tones. Try a new tabletop spread with your books and magazines. But whatever you do, don’t be afraid to cut loose and experiment! Every choice you make can always be undone again, so be bold.

Window cleaning might be considered the ultimate drudgery by some homeowners, yet nothing does more for a home’s aesthetic than fresh sunlight streaming into every room. Want your rooms to feel airier? Your furnishings to look brighter and more colorful? Then put window cleaning at the top of your honey-do list.
Another inexpensive cosmetic fix you might want to apply is touch-up paint. Scrapes, dings, discolorations and ugly smudges can be made to go away in no time at all. And with almost no money. I suggest foam brushes for touch ups, as they’re easy to use and disposable.

Hardwood floors? This is the time of year to give them a good deep clean and polishing. It’s also the time of year to invest in (and experiment with) houseplants and botanicals that bring even more of nature’s beauty directly into your home. Look for specials at your grocery store and garden center. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can always find a something (twigs, sticks, even blooms from your own yard) to accent a room’s décor.

Great Designs Flaunt their Eccentricity

Sometimes the best way to achieve balance in your design is by pushing things a bit off-center. Try arranging your decorative items in odd-numbered groups. Add interest by staggering the tall and short elements of your design. And when putting together displays, think out of the box and avoid those boring straight lines.

End Your Cleaning Spree with a Shopping Spree

Best part about spring cleaning is, with the tossing out of the old and tired there’s room for the new and beautiful. And that means it’s time to shop!
How about some decorative pillows for the living room? A new vase for the den? Or a weathered lantern, placed just so, to brings out the antique feel of your old steamer trunk?

Whatever you choose to do, remember that it only takes a small scattering of knickknacks and decorations can give every room in your home a new point of view, and a whole new personal narrative.

An Insider’s Tip on Interior Design

Sometimes, getting it right means getting it wrong first. So go ahead. Shop around. Take chances on things you like, and if they don’t look the way you thought they would after you’ve brought them home, bring them back to the store the next day. Most retail outlets have generous return policies, and knowledgeable managers who understand that even professional decorators sometimes need to see their purchase in situ, so relax and have fun. Just be sure you bring along your receipt, and you’ll have no trouble making the exchange.