Since the hard freezes this winter, many of us are dealing with sagging, drooping, wilted and browned tropical plants. Outdoor spaces have gone from lush to nearly apocalyptic. Thank heavens for spring, when renewal is the name of the game, and color and life return to South Louisiana. While many of us have outdoor spaces we’re scrambling to spruce up, spring is the season for indoor home renewal as well. Freshening up décor on the indoors is just as important to restoring life in the home as freshening up your flowerbeds and lawns. This season, we’re asking local experts for their best tips on updating home décor and “springing” it to life.
“We like to encourage our clients to freshen up their home because styles change over time,” says Kristine Flynn, owner and interior designer at Flynn Designs. “No matter how classic of a style one’s home may be, it is nice to update even just in decorative accessories. People are constantly updating their wardrobe to replace items. That is exactly what we do, just for your home.”
Bringing the outdoors in is one way of looking at spring home renewal, and updating lighting is one way to accomplish a brighter feel. Flynn warns, however, against misguided light bulbs.
“With the addition of LED bulbs people often think the brighter the better,” says Flynn. “Anything over the brightness of 2700 will affect the color of the room.”
Layered lighting comes recommended by Penny Francis, principal designer and owner of Eclectic Home. Francis’s love of lighting is evident with just a glance through her shop’s Oak Street windows — the store is full of lamps and fixtures.
“By adding layers of light, the room’s environment and ambiance can change. Layer light is ceiling lighting, art lighting, table lamps, floor lamps and candle light,” she says.
Another method Francis uses for making a room feel new is to rearrange your furnishings.
“Perhaps take the sofa off of the wall and float it in the room, anchored by a pair of accent chairs,” she says. “Moving art around provides a different and new perspective.” Rearranging (or changing out) the pieces you already own is also an affordable way to update a room and may help you develop a new appreciation for items you forgot you had or are used to overlooking.
Designer Maria Barcelona agrees. Floating furniture away from walls creates a more inviting, conversational atmosphere, she says. These furniture items often interact with area rugs, especially in homes with hardwood, tile or stone floors and Barcelona recommends ensuring your rug is the appropriate size for the room.
“A good rule of thumb is that all furniture in a living room should at least have the front feet on the rug,” she says. “In a dining room, chairs should still be entirely on the rug when fully pulled out.”
Rugs are the expertise of Sharon Schenck, who has 45 years of experience in the rug business on three different continents. Owner of NOLA Rugs, Schenck recently received a large shipment of brightly covered Kelims that she recommends utilizing to create a new vision for a room at a reasonable price.
“Rugs are one of the best opportunities for expression in a room and are usually the largest area of color, giving you a chance to choose the colors you love,” she says. If you want something that can transcend the four seasons, Schenck recommends a classic oriental rug for its timeless nature.
Katie Koch, owner of Katie Koch Home enjoys freshening up a home by showing some love to its walls. Fresh paint — whether a new color or a new coat — is a go-to option for Koch and other designers. Another option for the walls is wallpaper, which is making a big comeback with a variety of eye-pleasing designs.
“Freshening up your home is good for your soul,” says Koch. “After all it’s the place you come home to in the evening and where you start your day. I love my small home office, as the upholstered walls, matching sofa, and window treatments make me smile every time I open the door.”
It’s important to love your space and incorporate your own sense of style. Principal Designer of Susan Currie Design, Susan Currie emphasizes an openness to change. Not only is keeping your home décor fresh good for maintaining the value of your home, it can also increase your appreciation for things you already own.
“It’s doesn’t mean throwing away things you love,” she says. “It’s about showcasing your collections while freshening up with new décor. This is what keeps a home vibrant.”
Another way of bringing the outdoors in is adding color with flowers, which add vibrancy to any room. If you collect unique accessories, Currie recommends picking up vintage containers that can be filled with flowers.
For those who enjoy the hunt, picking up a new piece (or pieces) to improve a space can be a fun adventure. Whether your taste is contemporary, antique, mid-century or vintage, Renaissance Interiors is a one-stop shop for a wide array of home furnishings. With furniture, artwork, lamps and other unique items, the ever changing inventory acquired from both Europe and local consignment might spark an idea for a home update.
“Our tastes change; trends change, and our own needs change as we go though life — frankly, a lot of people who are conscious of design in the home after a period of time just get bored and want something new like we would in our wardrobe,” says Larry Mann, owner of Renaissance Interiors.
Whether the change in your aesthetic preference is from Louis VI to mid-century modern or a change in colors like beige and gold to silver and bold, making the update should be satisfying and fun. Grace Kaynor, co-owner of Sotre, enjoys making changes by incorporating new fabrics. With furniture, everyday wear and tear may necessitate new upholstery. A change in bedding is also recommended.
“Change out heavy velvets and silk satins to linens and cottons in fun prints,” says Kaynor. She also recommends taking off heavy duvets and replacing with silk inserts that wick away moisture.
Bedding is also big for Beth Harris, founder of Relish New Orleans. Harris is obsessed with Bella Notte linens, which come in a variety of both standard and seasonal colors.
“A lot of what we’ll do in spring is change out the linens — it’s a real simple way to make a bedroom look totally different,” says Harris. “I like to bring out a white linen duvet for my bedroom. White is cool and clean and really brings out a freshness.”
A “lifestyle store,” Relish New Orleans offers a number of home goods in addition to gift items and clothing. While most of what Harris carries is imported from Europe, Harris is drawn to Cali-based Bella Notte for bedding and Moss Studio for upholstered furniture. Harris loves the sofas from Moss Studio, whose customizable slipcovers allow you more color options and seasonal flexibility. Slipcovers are a huge designer trick for renewing a room.
New drapery and shades are another option for updates and can help dress or redress your windows while improving function as well. In spring and summer, they can also help block the heat. Even sheers and solar shades can help tremendously without blocking your view, according to Blythe Wren, owner of Wren’s Tontine Shade & Design.
Wren suggests updating your drapery or shades and says don’t be afraid of color. “Neutrals with a pop of color looks amazing,” she says. If you haven’t already, do protect your drapery, furniture, flooring and artwork from damaging UV rays by adding window shades.
Don’t just experience spring through windows, though — updates to outdoor spaces are also advantageous this season. According to Sean Killeen, co-owner of Demoran Custom Homes, “The best way to update for spring is to add an outdoor feature for enjoying the great weather.” Killeen recommends pergolas, outdoor kitchens, gazebos, and water features as great additions for refreshing the outdoors.
Whether indoors or outdoors, Killeen stresses that your home is your getaway from the world, and updating that space is important for relaxation with friends and family.
Vikki Leftwich, interior designer and owner of Villa Vicci says, “When freshening up your home, trends can be fun; but lifestyle is the most important thing to consider.”
Lifestyle and recent or upcoming changes should play a giant role in the refreshing of your home.
“Kids, pets, empty nests — these things impact the way our homes need to function,” she says. “We can design any room to look fantastic — designing a fantastic room that suits our clients needs is what makes a successful project.”