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Lighten Up to Bring Spring Into the House

June 08, 1996|From Associated Press

Getting ready for spring shouldn't be limited to the garden. It should extend to every room in the house.

Removing winter's clutter is invigorating, and adding decorative fillips further elevates the spirit.

Decorators usher in the season of renewal in ways as varied as woodland flowers.

Lillian August likes to infuse a room with new color and unusual accessories.

"The new color can come from something as simple as a new red pillow, a vase full of yellow daffodils or roses or a fairly large vase or bowl of blue-green glass," says August, a designer of fabrics, furniture and home accessories in Westport, Conn.

She may choose a new color combination such as black and white in, say, a checkerboard-pattern area rug or a houndstooth throw tossed over the back of a sofa.

"These strong combinations provide some high contrast," August says.

She scatters her straw-hat collection about the house, adds an item not usually found indoors, such as a rustic birdhouse, and covers her living room sofa with a patchwork quilt in red, pink, blue and green.

"This takes the room from formal to casual, which is right for spring and summer on the water where I live," she says.

Come spring, Stanley Hura does windows.

"There was one beautiful sunny day in April, and I washed all the windows," the New York designer says.

By summer, there will be light-colored slipcovers on the upholstered furniture. But he starts with what he refers to as "the editing process," replacing draperies with something lighter at the windows. He also rotates accessories, banishing a bronze-colored vase in favor of clear glass cylinders filled with spring blossoms and flowering branches.

Clodagh, an Irish-born interior designer transplanted to New York, says her ritual is more emotional than practical.

"Spring refurbishing is a small thing, but it makes my world feel right," she says.

In the Irish countryside, she recalls, "we used to clean up a storm every spring, with rugs laid out on bushes and people beating them madly. Every corner of the house was washed with lemon and pine, and the windows were polished until they shone."

When spring comes to New York, Clodagh cleans out her closets and gives away clothes she hasn't worn for a year or more. She has the windows washed and the white walls touched up.

"I am not a lover of green, but I do bring in green plants and boxes of spring bulbs that I buy in New York's wholesale flower district, already sprouting," Clodagh says. "People walk in and see a wooden box of something sprouting, and it makes them very happy."

She discards the incense and potpourri in heavy scents she associates with winter and replaces them with lighter aromas of rosemary and lilac. She also opts for lighter bath salts.

"I put away any accessories that look warm, such as wool throws and crimson-colored fabrics, and change bed linens and towels to more spring-like colors such as white, blue and ocher," she says.

Clodagh's other spring rituals include getting a haircut and making the ultimate change for a sophisticated New Yorker: "I wear white T-shirts under my black suits."

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