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May 19, 2013

Simple changes can brighten any home for summer

Winter is finally over, and now it’s time to clear out, clean up and redo drab, dull rooms.

Winter is finally over, and now it’s time to clear out, clean up and redo drab, dull rooms.

Even if you are not an interior designer, with today’s assortment of help and advice available, you are only short steps away from livening up your home.

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t heard of Pinterest? From crafts and home design to flowers, color and so much more, Pinterest “pins” and “boards” have photos of just about anything you could want to do and then some. And once you finish a project, pin it and watch the reaction.

Pinterest is not the only website to follow if you are looking for ideas. has explanatory how-to videos, Martha Stewart Living has step-by-step instructions, and big box home and garden store sites often offer classes and supplies to get you started. Many home decor stores, furniture stores, design stores and even paint and hardware outlets also provide help and design tools for any project.

If doing it yourself is not an option, hire an expert. Many interior designers or home decorators will take a project on an hourly basis, said Pam Jones of Interiors by Pamela.

“Sometimes you just need a fresh eye,” said Jones, who has worked in interior design for more than 28 years. “It helps to bring a room together using what you have.”

If hiring a designer or decorator to repurpose or redesign a room is not in the budget, then Jones has a number of ways you can update and brighten your space.

It can be as simple or inexpensive as changing out dark, heavy throw pillows on a couch or loveseat. Or it can be a little more involved with new paint on walls, buying outdoor rugs for a patio or reframing favorite art to hang in new ways.

Add a new floral arrangement

According to Jones, today’s permanent floral arrangements are made of rubber-based materials instead of the perennial silk. These are “big, fun and interesting” as well as being more realistic and more natural-looking, she said.

When you are looking for great florals, the petals and leaves should appear and feel waxy, velvety or filmy, like their counterparts in nature. A grouping of three vases of different sizes filled with an array of flowers, branches and greenery of varying heights can create a stunning accent to a living room or hearth room.

Paint your furniture

An old chair, wooden end table, patio table or wooden accent box can become beautiful again with a little paint.

“High gloss is really in,” Jones said. If you don’t have an old piece, a garage sale is an inexpensive way to purchase something that can become the centerpiece of your room.

Prepare the piece by giving it a light sanding to remove the finish. Prime it and give it at least two coats of paint. Let it dry in a calm area to prevent dust and dirt from settling onto the surface. Reupholster the cushion in fun fabric.

Change area rugs/update hardware

Changing area rugs is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to make a room feel new again, whether it’s a small space like a bathroom or a larger one such as a kitchen or patio. For outside, choose rugs made especially for outdoors that can be hosed off. Search for outdoor rugs with great patterns, colors and styles.

Pull the pulls. Replacing old hardware pulls on cabinets and doors along with new area rugs is a sure way to breathe life into a tired space.

Redo an entryway

Carry the area rug change to the front of the house.

“The entryway is your introduction to your home,” Jones said.

While many of us don’t use the front door to access the house on a daily basis, a seasonal wreath, welcoming doormat or rug and a decor or accent piece makes a statement about us and the house.

Jones said even if it’s just a coat of paint on the door, it’s vital to how the home is perceived. Other changes, she said, can include painting the trim a coordinating color or replacing a glass door with a wooden one with side windows to let in light.


Some see accessories as clutter; others see them as essential to the look of a room. Remember: Too many can overwhelm the space; too few can make the room seem empty. Well-chosen vases, candleholders, baskets, decorative boxes, framed photos and artworks should be arranged in groupings of odd numbers, which look better than an even number in a grouping.

“It’s totally aesthetically pleasing,” Jones said.


Almost anyone can paint, Jones said, and it’s the easiest way to perk up a room as the seasons change. Adding color to a room with paint can be as simple as buying a can of paint for an accent wall or trim.

When choosing colors for your home, Emerald Green was selected as the 2013 color of the year by Pantone, a New Jersey company that bills itself as the world’s color authority, and shades of gray are hot, according to the 2013 National Kitchen & Bath Association’s Style Report. And since home colors follow clothing, turquoise, yellow, blue and orange can be used as a “pop” of color or accent, Jones said.

Indoor foliage

In the interest of making homes greener, a living plant is a must.

“Plants are really important; they are good for the air, environment and give you nice color,” Jones said. One rule of thumb: No short plants in high-ceiling rooms.

Mirrors and light

Dirty mirrors and windows definitely don’t let the light in or shine. Clean both with a mixture of vinegar and water. Some swear by the ability of newspaper to bring the shine back and leave the surface streak-free. If lampshades are dark or covered in dense fabric, replace them for the summer with shear, opaque or shades of white or off-white.

Clean and de-clutter

Air your home out by opening windows to let the stale winter air out, beat small rugs and dusty pillows outside, and dust your real and fake plants.

To make de-cluttering more manageable, pick one thing every day that doesn’t speak to you anymore and donate it to a charity, store it for another time, sell it or give it away.

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