The good news is that the first day of spring arrives on the 20th of this month. The less-than-good news is that historically, the New England weather gods haven't always gotten the memo. Though daffodil shoots and crocus nubs are pushing through the earth and stores are festooned with Easter bunnies, flirty floral dresses, and short-sleeve smocks, a seasoned Rhode Islander knows putting your parka away this time of year is a fool’s errand.
Though we may ride a roller coaster of weather-related uncertainty until Memorial Day gives us the official “all clear,” we can embrace (and manifest, perhaps?) the season of rebirth on the inside of our spaces, even if the outside plays catch up. As we linger on the cusp of warmer temps and days growing longer with earlier sunrises and later sunsets, we’ve gathered regional experts to dish on their advice and insights when it comes to speeding things along and giving Old Man Winter a kick in the pants – at least regarding our interiors.
From Cozy to Crisp
Kristen Brown and Amy Keeley, owners of Salt + Pine Home Staging in West Greenwich, have made it their business, quite literally, to give homes the “about face” they need to turn heads. Staging homes throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, the design duo works to make homes fresh and welcoming for prospective buyers, typically aiming for a look that’s “traditional with a modern flair,” all while keeping a sense of place top of mind.
“Here in Rhode Island, we find that a slight coastal vibe is always on trend,” says Brown. “Adding a warmer, beachy vibe to a space will help with a spring-inspired feel.” Keeley advises starting with a deep cleaning, which she says will “help a room breathe a little after winter” and give spaces a fresh start. “Spring is a great time to purge. You would be surprised how different your house feels just by cleaning out the drawers and cabinets,” adds Brown.
Paint color is one of the easiest and more affordable methods to completely redefine a space, but think of the big picture before collecting swatches. “We generally recommend light, bright, and neutral paint colors,” says Keeley. “Darker, moodier paint is trending right now, but that is a much bigger commitment.”
Prepping and Planning
Before getting to work on a new or updated look, step back and consider your long-term goals – specifically, changes to the home you’d like to see by summertime. Many local contractors are booking further out than ever before, and while supply chain delays are on the mend, the past few years have proven that disruptions are unpredictable at best. Even in the best circumstances, talented craftspersons who are in demand oftentimes have multiple customers in the queue.
Althea Tower, owner of Riveted Woodworking & Design in Bristol, says timelines for projects depend on many variables, including the scope of the project, the process of finalizing a design, and accommodating any changes that might unfold along the way, but a ballpark lead time is typically about 12 to 16 weeks.
“There are a lot of fluid things in there because my process is so customized, down to a quarter inch,” she explains. From new mudrooms, home offices, and Architectural Digest-worthy wet bars, to smaller projects like built-ins, closets, accent walls, shelving, sliding barn doors, exposed beams and Pinterest-perfect pantries, a realistic timeline is critical, and can heavily influence your “real time” seasonal design scheme. “Now is the time of year when a deep cleaning paired with purging of items that have served their time typically inspire change and a lot of people seeking better organization,” says Tower.
Shopping at a small business near you is always a good idea, but especially when it comes to interior design. Accessories and art sourced from independent shop owners will ensure your space doesn’t have a ”cookie cutter” catalog feel. “Art is something we love to source locally,” says Nicole Martel, owner and principal designer of Three Sparrows Interior Design based in Warren. “There are so many talented people in the East Bay and throughout Rhode Island. We've collaborated with Pawtucket-based painter Holly Wach and have used her prints in clients' homes. Her bird paintings have that springtime feel that is such a stunning addition to any home gallery.”
Local shops are also where you’ll find town- and state-specific decor, including embroidered throw pillows to freshen up a space, and glassware to have at the ready when entertaining. Look for home accents bearing latitude and longitude, coffee table books by local authors, or other decor that celebrates hometown pride.
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