Tips for springing to life
Pictured drapes, upholstery and pillows by Fairfax Fabric Company.
It is time to open the windows! Spring officially arrives March 20, but in New Orleans open-window weather arrives far earlier than that. Open up your home to let in the light and the season’s sweet breezes, and you’ll notice the refreshing wash of colors, sounds and scents that faded away during this year’s brutal, hard-freeze winter. While the light and air from open windows literally brings the outdoors in, there are a number of other ways to give your indoors the same renewed look you see outside. With its bursts of color and flurry of activity, the season demands new attention within the home, and a variety of home and design experts have tips for updating your living space.
“I always recommend using springtime as a opportunity to evaluate the condition of home décor items to see what needs to be replaced or updated. Its like spring cleaning for your accessories!” says Maria Barcelona, Owner and Designer of Maria Barcelona Interiors. “Just like a sassy new outfit can add a spark to your wardrobe, adding a few well-chosen accent pieces can totally rekindle your love for your home,” she says.
And after winter’s freezing temperatures, New Orleans could sure use a spark! As an interior designer, Barcelona sees her role as refining clients’ visions and styles to give their home the spark it deserves. She suggests taking stock of your accessories – those that still speak to you and those that don’t – as an easy starting point for welcoming the spring season.
“Adding colorful or richly textured pillows to a neutral sofa is always an instant springtime pick-me-up,” she says. Be careful not to over-accessorize, though. She recommends instead a few well-chosen statement pieces that can be appreciated without being lost in any clutter.
Organization is a common priority for spring – namely, for spring cleaning – but organization actually plays a key role in the style of your home and affects your overall design. Without sufficient storage space and well-thought storage solutions, you might end up with more clutter than you know what to do with. Finding these solutions is what Louisiana Custom Closets is all about.
Ann Wise, Owner, suggests reorganizing your seasonal decorations before putting them away. When you’re packing up holiday, Mardi Gras or your upcoming Easter decorations, note and discard the broken or unwanted items. If you replace these items at the close of the season, you’ll likely find a good deal. Wise emphasizes that an organized home saves you time and is more relaxing. Knowing how to easily access your items can eliminate a ton of headache.
As a 15-year designer and installer of closets and other storage areas, Louisiana Custom Closets’ experts can offer the latest trends for creating flow and incorporating the broader home design into storage.
As mentioned by Maria Barcelona, one of the many stored items you’ll want to have easy access to is pillows. Pillows are probably the most common accessory that designers recommend changing seasonally. Whether you’re buying new or rotating a collection, you’ll find even this small change can brighten a room.
“The best economical way to freshen the home is by adding a little bit of color. That’s why I tell everybody that you need most of your upholstery in a basic color – tan, brown – that way it gives you more flexibility to put in color with pillows and change to the season,” says Beth Claybourn, ASID, Owner and Designer of Beth Claybourn Interiors.
Another tip from Claybourn is using slipcovers, an inexpensive way to update your sofa and adapt to its seasonal use, like when the kids are home for summer.
“I have young clients with lots of children who just love them – they can throw them in the washing machine and easily wash them,” says Claybourn. When shopping for furniture, Claybourn recommends having an awareness of the season and understanding the likeliness that you’ll buy differently in winter versus spring. You don’t want to invest in a springy sofa that will look out of place in winter, which is why she suggests neutral colors or utilizing slipcovers.
Pillows and upholstery are also big for Patricia Cordaro Daigle, Owner of Fairfax Fabric Company on Magazine Street. A textiles boutique with a curated selection of fabrics and trim for drapery, upholstery and home décor, Fairfax Fabric Company offers a number of textile solutions for spring renewal. Daigle also emphasizes pillows and slipcovers as practical options and recommends chair makeovers for your outdated seats.
A few other tips include using textiles as wall art and adding trim to your existing drapes, which can give them a new look without requiring a total re-do. If a large-scale redo is what you have in mind, she suggests new drapery and window treatments for making a dramatic statement.
“Don’t forget drapery and window treatment lining. Picking the right lining will definitely have an impact on the final look of your drapery or Roman shades when they are hung,” Daigle adds.
At Wren’s Tontine Shade & Design, Owner Blythe Wren is also big on window treatments. Not only are window treatments great for creating a new look, but updating them can mean improving function of your home, too, by protecting from heat, glare and UV rays.
“A lot of customers call me because they want to get ready for the hot summer coming up. It helps to block the heat to add window treatments. Even just sheers or a solar shade can help tremendously without losing your view,” says Wren. When updating, don’t be afraid of color – your window treatments are a great place for adding that pop.
On the other side of those window treatments, and windows, are the outdoors that we mentioned earlier. The place where spring is most spring! And as part of the home, your outdoor space is another prime canvas.
“As a time for renewal, so many plants do bloom in the spring and to coordinate colors in the landscape adds a deep dimension of beauty,” says Alan Mumford, President of Landscape Images LTD. Mumford stresses not only the colorful flowers, but the possibilities in planting design with blooming shrubs as well.
For a mere freshening up of your outdoor space, Alan says that’s easy – a consultation on pruning, seasonal color, mulching and even transplanting can all add an immediate effect of improvement and pleasure. Looking for something more comprehensive?
“The larger scale renewal would come in the form of a plan that would include many aspects of our design process, like site analysis, client program, which would include how the client wishes to use the property, and all the way through paving, planting, lighting design and more,” says Mumford. Regarding “dos & don’ts,” Mumford says do use professionals, do have fun and don’t be shy.
Jonathan Swanson, Senior Landscape Architect at Mullin Landscape Associates likes to welcome spring a number of ways, beginning with an evaluation of plants that have become overgrown or ragged. Another part of his process is to make room for new additions that will give the garden a facelift. Spring is the time to plan for summer, so he recommends taking advantage of this time to consider creating the outdoor living space you’re wanting for summer gatherings.
For a more comprehensive approach, Swanson recommends evaluating the overall master plan and asking if the property serves well the family lifestyle.
“As your family grows, you’ll likely find you’re using your outdoor spaces in different ways. A rear yard that once served as an active play space may now be better suited for a quiet reflective space,” he says.
Consider your lifestyle when thinking of your wants. That latest hot trend may not fit your lifestyle, and that’s okay. “If your family members aren’t big-time pizza chefs, perhaps don’t buy in to the need for an outdoor pizza kitchen,” says Swanson.
Whether it’s a pizza oven, gazebo, new roller shade or sofa cover, or even a house full of pillows, get creative with your spring home renewal and have fun. If you’re not sure what you need or want, tap into the city’s plethora of home design experts eager to help you welcome the season.
Maria Barcelona Interiors
9501 Jefferson Highway
Louisiana Custom Closets
Beth Claybourn Interiors
401 Tchoupitoulas St.
Fairfax Fabric Company
3613 Magazine St., Suite F
Wren’s Tontine Shade & Design
1533 Prytania St.
Landscape Images LTD
655 Central Ave.
Mullin Landscape Associates
10356 River Road
Landscape Images, Ltd. Illustrates a plan for a home on Webster Street. Finished garden pictured below.