On the school run this morning I noticed that the mornings here in the Northern Hemisphere are finally getting lighter. Instead of making our way to school and work through winter darkness with only street lights and reflective clothing to aid us on our way, there is now weak dawn light in the sky by about eight am. This is exciting because it means that deepest winter is over and spring is on the distant horizon. What does this mean for our homes?
Spring clear-out! I went up into our loft the other day and did a huge clear-out of redundant baby equipment, toys, excess books and clothes. I know this sounds like the kind of tedious thing life ‘experts’ always advise in women’s magazines but as far as feel-good factor goes, it works. Over time the amount of belongings that we accumulate can creep up on us. I divided into ‘donate’, ‘sell’, ‘recycle’ and ‘throw’. It took me most of the weekend but was so worth it. I also made a bit from selling things, so that goes into the fund to buy the next things for our home, which will be a new desk for one of the kids, or some new curtains- see below!
I also rearranged the children’s rooms, as they also tend to end up with new toys at Christmas that get stored alongside things they no longer play with, or that are broken. In my experience, if toys are in a jumbled mess, they don’t get played with as much as if they are occasionally ‘thinned’ out with the items that are never played with being swapped with friends or donated to charity. This rule works for wardrobes, as well, by the way. I have accepted that the ridiculously high and extremely uncomfortable gold stilettos I bought and wore to a party five years ago are never going to become part of my staple wardrobe, so out they go!
With the spring clear-out accomplished my thoughts have turned to how to prepare the house for spring.
Change out the textiles. This goes for Curtains, rugs, throws/ bedlinen and towels.
Before you step away from reading this, aghast at the thought of going on a textile spending spree remember this: textiles are what ‘dress’ your house properly. Furniture can frame your house well, but without textiles your house will always look a bit cold and stark. You can have a modernist loft, and you will still need a little bit of the softness that textiles give to make it look like a home.
I remember my grandmother, when I was a little girl had different curtains for summer and winter. She would take down the winter curtains when spring was coming and store them away and then bring out the summer curtains. Clearly in the ‘olden days’ when houses were not as well insulated heavy winter curtains were a necessity but looking at my dark satin bedroom drapes, and then the dense ikat curtains I have for the sitting room window I have decided to go on the hunt for something lighter for the spring/summer season. The expensive route is to choose from a ‘named’ fabric house and get them sewn up. The budget-friendly option is to buy from a high street retailer that stocks ready-made curtains at reasonable prices. Ditto for cushions. Simply switching the cushion covers for a different design or colour can alter the look and feel of a room. Summer botanicals by Clinton Friedman work really well for a summer update. A different tablecloth or placemats can also change the look for your kitchen/dining room. I have several tablecloths that I rotate regularly.
I am sure you are puzzling as to why I would be recommending changing your bath towels…I am well-aware that most of us only buy new bathroom towels when the old ones are threadbare and we just chuck a couple of new ones in the shopping trolley at the supermarket as we do our rounds. Hence, many households (mine included) have a jumbled mismatch of towels in varying faded colours in the linen cupboard. Firstly, renewing your bathroom towels can massively smarten up your bathroom in an instant. Secondly, if you have ever lived in a very hot country, my example for that is South Africa, it is not very pleasant to dry yourself on a dense, fluffy towel in hot weather. There is versatility to flatweave ‘hammam- style’ towels that terry towels do not have. They are really absorbent and dry much faster than traditional terry towels so you avoid having that ‘damp towel smell’ lingering about the bathroom in summer.
I have mentioned this before, I know but take a look at the plants in your house. Are they healthy? Are they thriving? A dusty little spider plant struggling away in a neglected corner does nothing for your interior. Get down to your local garden centre and take a look at the options available. Again, you needn’t spend the earth to find a couple of good-quality plants for your home. The big fashion now is to hang them from woven string plant-holders. I have resisted this, because we have really high ceilings in our house, which would not only make the hanging plant pots look odd, but it would be a nightmare to water them!
Lastly, if you buy the occasional bunch of flowers you don’t have to put the whole bunch into one vase. It looks lovely to find a few similar or matching small vases and arrange one or two stems in each vase. You don’t have to think: flowers = kitchen windowsill, or bouquet= dining table. There are plenty of other surfaces in your home that might look great with a stem or two of flowers Look with fresh eyes for possible places; a sideboard, a bedside table, a coffee table, a mantelpiece, a hallway shelf, on a dressing table, perhaps?
I am well-aware that the world is full of serious events and that home-making is not always at the top of the list of priorities but I am guessing that if you are reading this, you are interested. Remember, my tips are not a manifesto for living, they are only suggestions. When you live in a space, no matter how big or small, bought or rented it is easy to become complacent, or inert. I have also been guilty of, ‘’There’s no point doing x until we get y done to the house. ‘’ The tips above are things that you can do in stages as and when you have time, money or inclination. Your home is not about how much money you have or how ‘arty’ you are. It is a reflection of who you are as a person, so let the way you present and decorate it allow your personality shine through that reflection.