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Time to Spring New Look on Interiors

Freshen Your Indoors to Get in Season's Spirit

April 14, 2001|From ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ah, spring. Cool breezes, blue skies, daffodils--it's so lovely outside.

But what about inside? It's hard to get into the spring spirit when the house is littered with blankets, thick drapes cover the windows and dust bunnies are lurking in every corner.

A house in spring should feel "light and airy, less cluttered," said Rachel Ashwell, founder of the Shabby Chic stores in Los Angeles and Chicago and host of "Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic" on E! network. She also is featured in the book "Designers in Residence" (Hearst Books, $30), which showcases 18 designers' personal styles.

"It's about what you're taking away rather than what you're bringing in," Ashwell said.

She suggests rolling up rugs and taking down drapes as the first order of business: "Pack them up and send them off to the dry cleaners."

If you feel too exposed without drapes, Ashwell said voile panels can be pinned over windows for a simple, no-fuss covering. Voile is a light, semitransparent fabric.

And if your hardwood floors are not quite up to snuff, Peri Wolfman, vice president of product design for Williams-Sonoma, suggests a thin, natural-fiber rug.

Light-colored slipcovers on furniture can make a room seem brighter, Ashwell said, and replacing duvet covers with light bed coverings such as thin blankets and quilts is a cool option for the bedroom.

Ashwell also suggests moving green plants, which have probably been indoors all winter, to the deck or yard to give them some natural light. Fresh-cut daffodils or colorful weeds are good replacements. (See, weeds are good for something.)

Ways to Bring Spring Indoors

Wolfman, who co-wrote the book "A Place for Everything" (Clarkson Potter, $25), suggests searching flea markets for "spatterware" jugs. The heavy, ceramic containers covered with spattered paint can be filled with colorful hydrangeas.

Tricia Foley and Mary Baltz, who also are featured in "Designers in Residence," say displaying branches, including pussy willow, forsythia and apple blossoms, is a colorful way to bring spring indoors.

Peggy Kennedy, editor in chief of Victoria magazine, suggests throwing out any dried flowers that are hanging around the house. They don't have the fresh, youthful feeling of springtime, she said.

Get rid of any leftover winter holiday decorations too.

For the dining room, Kennedy said a floor-length voile tablecloth gives an air of breeziness and color.

Baltz said people want their lives to be simpler, and their houses should reflect that, especially in spring.

"People don't want a lot of things around them if they're not useful or pleasing to the eye."

And pleasant splashes of color can help evoke the change of seasons. "Celadon, celery green, hyacinth blue [are] really the first colors you think of naturally in spring," Baltz said.

Although she admits that "painting" is an intimidating word to those who are not particularly handy, she said putting a layer of paint on something--shutters, a small table, a wall--gives a quick change in atmosphere.

New housewares also can bring an aura of spring into a room. Wolfman suggests buying some new dish towels, like Williams-Sonoma's "Rooster Towels" ($16 each), and using them as big napkins--or "lapkins"--for a fresh spring table.

After cleaning off your surfaces and doing some simple brightening up, there's only one thing left to do: scrub.

A good, thorough spring cleaning is not just essential for aesthetic purposes, it's also healthy.

Allergy Sufferers, Take Special Care

Jeff Wald, an allergist in Overland Park, Kan., said people with allergies should have "polished surfaces" in their home. Dust mites and pet allergens, which wreak havoc on allergy-sufferers, will not accumulate as well on hardwoods, ceramic tile or linoleum.

Mold is another allergen that can build up in a house all winter, Wald said. A musty smell can indicate a mold problem.

Although he said a "deep cleaning," is advisable, he warns that getting into your house's nooks and crannies can stir up mold and dust mites.

He suggests wearing a mask or taking allergy medicine, or--better yet--have someone without allergies do the cleaning.

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