Vibrant Variances

Spring is the perfect time for home redesign.

Spring has arrived: flowers are beginning to bloom and baby animals at the zoo are taking their first steps. The season represents new beginnings, which includes your home. There is a reason why it’s called “spring” cleaning; it’s the perfect time to tackle home projects after the winter chill that kept you bundled up leaves but before the heat index rises above 100 degrees.

As a city that prides itself on its architecture and design, New Orleans offers a wide variety of vendors that can help achieve a new look fit for the city’s vibrancy. Whether you’re thinking of redoing a specific room, the exterior of your home or a massive overhaul of the entire house, local shops and services can help you achieve any home redesigning project.

In preparation for the upcoming summer heat, think about installing new solar shades around the house. Wren’s Tontine Shade & Design (1533 Prytania St., 525-7409, offers various colors and textures in the SheerWeave Roller Shades line. Solar shades reduce glares while maintaining views. Depending on the grade of openness, the shades limit heat from entering the house and block UV rays, which helps reduce interior fading.

“If you put on a tint, it’s permanent,” says owner Blythe Wren. “These, you can roll up and down as you please.”

Services include everything from initial consultation to measuring and installation. For more than 70 years, Wren’s has provided interior design solutions to the New Orleans community and the rest of the country, specializing in custom window treatments.

If you’re tired of looking at the same thing again and again, try updating your existing basics with a new piece of art. New pillows for furniture or a new centerpiece on the table become a fresh focal point. Bremermann Designs (3943 Magazine St., 891-7763, sells high-end pieces designed to enhance one’s home.

“I love mixing antiques with contemporary art,” says owner Gerrie Bremermann. “We have a great mix of antiques and contemporary living artists in our shop.” At her luxury shop on Magazine Street, customers can shop among art and French antiques for home accessories. Her company also offers a full-service interior design firm.

A quick pick-me-up in the kitchen can be as simple as changing out the decorative hardware. “Cabinets by Design (5201 Tchoupitoulas St., 899-2300, recommends changing decorative hardware for a quick and simple project to give cabinets a facelift,” says designer Leslie Lomont-Relayson. They carry brands such as Top Knobs, Emtek, Richelieu and Ashley Norton that will allow homeowners to add a personal touch to their space.

Cabinets by Design offers services for home or office, including designing a new backsplash for the entire kitchen or a simple accent. Along with cabinets by brands Mid-Continent, Wood-Mode and their new line Executive Cabinetry, they sell appliances, tile, decorative hardware and plumbing fixtures.

For a different approach to refresh the kitchen, try putting in something old to make it feel new. Tara Shaw Antiques (1240 Camp St., 525-1131, offers a wide range of antique furniture to showcase in the home. Try an old stone-top table instead of the everyday island. The hard surface can double as a cutting board for food preparation. The store also offers larger pieces, such as the French Buffet deux Corp from its own line Tara Shaw Maison, which can showcase and store china or cookbooks.

“An antique focal point turns a normal kitchen into the favorite place in the house to gather,” says owner Tara Shaw.

Along with furniture, the store sells a line of accessories, including antique-inspired tassels, wine buckets and cloches. Tara Shaw Maison consists of hand-carved reproductions of her favorite European antique pieces.

If you’re looking to update the bedroom, think about what you’re sleeping on. “My best advice to anyone is to get a good mattress. We spend one third of our lives asleep, if we’re lucky, so let’s make sure we sleep in comfort,” says Dean Coe of Jon Vaccari Antiques & Design (1912 St. Charles Ave., 899-7632,

Along with a new mattress, a new frame or headboard can spruce up outdated looks. For a polished finish, try the Baker Furniture Paris bed with a tufted upholstery headboard. In New Orleans, Baker Furniture and McGuire Furniture are exclusively sold at Jon Vaccari. The shop also features a wide selection of antiques, many from early 20th century France.

If you’re finally looking to tame your closet, Louisiana Custom Closets (13405 Seymour Meyer Blvd., Covington (985) 871-0810, 885-3188, can design a chic and elegant storage space to maximize the area. The company offers a free consultation including measuring and taking inventory of items stored. After the initial visit, the designers use computer software to map out all the details of one’s closet, including slanted shelves for shoes, open shelving and cubicles for purses and sweaters and hutch drawers for smaller items like jewelry and lingerie.

“Many homeowners resign themselves to be stuck with sub-par organizational components they inherited with their home like inadequate shelving and limited hanging space. As a result, clothes and other objects end up shoved where they will fit rather then where they belong,” says co-owner Ann Wise.

Do not overlook the outside of your home. Bevolo Gas & Electric Lights (521 Conti St., 318 Royal St., 68467 Highway 59, Mandeville, 522-9485, professionals can change the fixtures on the front of your home and “make your home look completely different for very little investment,” says owner Drew Bevolo.

With more than 500 lighting variations – including electric, liquid propane and natural gas options – a customer can customize a look based on his or her personal style. Architect A. Hays Town designed the original French Quarter light – the company’s most popular model – which can be seen on historic buildings and landmarks throughout the city, including the Cabildo, Jackson Square and Brennan’s. The company has been a staple in the community since 1945 and is known throughout the United States and in 28 countries worldwide.

Often-overlooked areas of the exterior are walkways and front parking. Exterior Designs, Inc. (866-0276, will design a functional driveway space that’s aesthetically appealing for you and your neighbors. “There is so much stress today that outdoor living space has become extremely important,” says owner Beverly Katz. “I’m into stress planning for my clients to clear up any drainage problems and remove plant materials that are not working.”

Exterior Designs also specializes in partyscapes. The company will liven up any landscape with seasonal flowers and plants for special occasions including holidays, corporate events and personal parties. Along with designing, planning and installing, the company also offers detailed lawn maintenance to complete your home’s new look.

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