How To Put The Spring Back Into Your Rooms
Spring is absolutely my favourite season. In my head, it’s been a long, chilly Winter, although in actual fact, it hasn’t. We’ve only had snow once and I haven’t even worn a pair of Uggs and actually, my ankles have been ON SHOW more than a couple of times. But even though global warming is messing with our minds, I’m still a huge fan of the advent of daffodils at the till in M&S and Cadburys Creme Eggs being forced upon me at every turn. Okay, so realistically it’s only 10 February and we’ve got a while to go yet before the season is actually over (I like to think ahead), but I’m already feeling the urge to take things up a notch in my home. Obviously, the mere fact that it’s actually not officially Spring until 20th March isn’t going to stop me planning. As someone who changes things up more regularly than Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen in his hey day, I like to think I’m an expert on this subject.
I am very much looking forward to the clocks going forward and the lengthening of the days. The worst thing about the very dark evenings is, for me, kids activity clubs. Activity clubs during the Winter are places of hell. Cold and noisy, the concept of standing, freezing, with a red nose and a bobble hat being forced to talk to other parents when you could be at home cooking a lovely one pot meal with a glass of cold Sauvignon is difficult to comprehend.
Those of you with a child over the age of six will know of the horror of the after school activity rota. For years, Joe has actively encouraged our sons (aged 9 and 15) to play football, ever since they were small enough to recognise a goal post (and support Sheffield Wednesday, something that hasn't done them many favours tbh). As a result, they play for a total of two league teams each, plus additional skill classes and training sessions. Every night of the week. This is not a joke. Joe, of course, doesn’t finish work until AFTER these clubs have commenced which means I am basically car bound next to a muddy field until he arrives, forced to internet shop, encouraged by the use of the Instagram Story swipe up facility to add to my never ending array of jumpsuits and dungarees.
When the children were younger, they also attended regular swimming lessons which for me, lists high on the Top Five Terrible Activities To Watch Your Kids Doing. Also included on that list are kick boxing (the smell) and trampolining (threat of serious injury and possible limb breakage at all times). I have an irrational fear of public swimming pools. Googling has told me this is called aquaphobia but I know for a fact that it goes back to when I was nearly strangled by floating strands of hair whilst swimming five lengths at Northolt Swimming Baths. About ten years ago, I attempted to conquer my fear and bravely went forward into the Wellington Baths whilst visiting my parents in Somerset, only to be immediately accosted by a rogue pubic hair on the ladder. Never again. Since then, I only ever swim in the sea and the idea of a spa day fills me with dread. And don’t even start me on hot tubs.
Anyway, I digress. The arrival of the first season of the year is the perfect time to refresh your home and an excellent excuse to switch things around a bit. But this doesn't mean that you have to splash the cash. Here’s five ways to add the Spring to your step.
Clear The Decks
First stop, pick your room. The idea is to completely reassess your space and the best way to do this is to clear it out. Not physically, obvs (I’m not suggesting attempting to squeeze the sofa out into the hallway) but mentally. Take a good look at your room and work out what you have lost the love for. Accessories are a dead cert for this one - I’ve been known to have things hanging around on my shelves for years that no longer hold any value to me or that I no longer like. Sometimes, things sit there for so long that you stop noticing them so it’s good to look at everything with a clear eye. Be ruthless. Create three piles - one for keeping, one for storing (just in case you think you might fall back in love with it again) and one for charity shop. For me, these tend to be trend based purchases that I’m totally over (read cactus, flamingo or palm adorned items).
Then apply this same logic to your furniture. Do you really love that chair? Have you EVER loved that chair, in fact? Has that side table had its day? Rationalise it like this. You’ll either be donating what you don’t want to the charity shop, or you will be selling what you don’t want on eBay or Gumtree for hard cash. Either way, it’s perpetuating the recycling process and everyone is a winner. And if you do want to buy something new, you can use the proceeds of what you have sold. One out, one in. Unbeatable logic that even your partner will be down with. Once you’ve narrowed down the items that you want to keep in the room and worked out what’s going to be departing from your life, move on to the next step. Get shopping.
Shop Your Home
Ah, so you thought I mean ACTUAL shopping, in a bone fide retail store? Oh, no. I meant shopping your HOME. This concept originated in the States and it’s a bloody good one (I wrote a blog about this that you can read here). Have a wander around your house and see what would suit your newly planned space. The items in your home don’t have to be stationary; they can be moved around, swapped about and repurposed. Remember that you don’t need to use furniture necessarily in the way it was intended, either - think outside of the proverbial box. I’ve used drinks trolleys as bedside tables, sideboards as dressing tables and dining tables as desks. A rug that looks good in your bedroom may look equally as good in your living room and vice versa.
Create new focal points by curating your items. A coloured glass vase may look nice by itself, but team it with a few more coloured glass vases and you’ve got a collection. Turn that boring corner next to the radiator into a point of interest by adding a side table, lamp and a small picture gallery - scour the charity shops and your own home to find a few vintage prints to tie it all together. Take a fresh look at your room and see if you are using the full space you have to its best advantage. Just moving the sofa to a new position can give your room a whole different feel. I know this as I’ve done it about five hundred times. If it’s moveable, it’s got no chance in my house.
Ramp Up The Textures
So you’ve moved your room around. You’ve added, you’ve taken away and you’re feeling pretty happy with the way it’s looking. But IS IT SPRING LIKE ENOUGH? Probs not. So now, you need to add the texture. Add the layers that will make it feel like a new room. A good place to start is by swapping out your cushions - this makes me sound a little odd (bear with) but I have different cushions for my rooms for the colder and warmer months. In the Winter, I’m all about the darker colours, heavy wool or velvet materials. Come Spring, I’m looking at cotton or twill, lighter tones and brighter fabrics. The same applies to throws - the textured furry cosiness is put aside and replaced with more delicate wools. We live in a 260 year old Georgian house without double glazing, we like a throw. It’s amazing what a difference it can make to the space.
A bit of a bedroom reshuffle (I’m not talking pampas action here, btw) can also brighten both your mood and home - think about updating your bed linen and throws and look for fresher, lighter colours. And finally, of course, fragrance also plays a big part in upping the ambiance. Put away the Christmassy scents, the nutmegs, cinnamon and bring in the freesia and the fig. Even though we are looking towards the longer, lighter evenings, you can never go wrong with a candle. They’re an essential part of your home decor. That’s what I tell Joe, anyway as he looks askance at yet another candle purchase.
Unleash Your Inner Dimmock
As we move closer to Spring, it’s definitely a time to start thinking about adding to the greenery in your home. Studies show that plants improve concentration and productivity, plus they encourage a feeling of calm and wellbeing. And did you know that they absorb up to 87% of air toxins in just 24 hours? Random fact of the day. I’m not the greatest with house plants but I do find that the ones that I manage to keep going the longest are the bigger, sturdier ones. I’ve got two plants that have survived - unbelievably - for almost three years to date. The first is a Monstera (cheese plant) - super easy to upkeep (AKA I barely water it). The second is a fern - I have no idea how this beauty has managed to survive my shocking care but survive it has - again, it’s rarely watered unless the fronds start dropping but it hangs on in there. I wrote a blog post on the best house plants some time ago - click here to read.
It’s also a good opportunity to look to see if any of your plants have grown beyond their space and need repotting. Aside from the obvious downside to this activity of manicure ruination, it’s actually a really therapeutic job. I’ll be repotting the trailing plants that have survived the Winter over the next few weeks, rewarding them for their endurance. If you are unconvinced by your green fingered ability, go for faux. I have both in my home and a good faux is worth the investment, although I have picked up excellent ones at both Next and Maisons Du Monde in the past for a very reasonable cost. Try Hello Flora for huge bunches of excellent faux greenery - I have a vaseful of eucalyptus in my kitchen that looks amazing and works out significantly cheaper than buying from a florist every week.
Write A List Of Future Plans
If there is one thing that really makes me feel Spring positive, it’s writing a to do list. Not just any old to do list. I like to write a List Of Future Plans. This sounds slightly more elaborate than it is. Basically, I have a house full of projects that I’d love to do (I know I do a lot of projects, but there’s always room for improvement). These range from tidying my office to redecorating the guest room; from putting a light bulb in the very high ceiling that needs a ladder to action, right through to updating the carpet in Ella’s bedroom. Some of these are small, some are big. Some, like converting the garage into a self contained annexe (#dreambig) are not really feasible for a fair few years.
So this is what I do. I write down each room of my home and work out what I’d like to change and what needs to be done. Every little thing that in the world of my dreams, I would change. Whether it be new wine glasses or new patio doors, it goes on the list.
What it does is enables me to gain control of what needs to be done. So if I have a spare afternoon, then I’ll tick some of the little things off the list. I can tell you now that simply the action of ticking is enough to raise your mood a few levels. It also enables me to plan ahead. Take, for example, a room revamp. Even if I’m not able to complete it for a while, I will pick up items that I will need for the revamp (who hasn’t thrown a vase into the trolley in Sainsburys on a just popped in for milk mission?) that I will then squirrel away in ANTICIPATION of the revamp. By doing this, it not only cuts the cost of future purchases but it also makes me feel that I’m on track with a purpose. Seriously, it’s a winner. Try it.
So that’s what I’m going to be doing over the next few weeks. Switching things around and changing things up is a great way to keep things interesting in your home and is also an extremely therapeutic task. Our surroundings have the power to make us happy and promote positivity and wellbeing so give it a go! And in the meantime, let’s look forward to waving goodbye to the dark mornings and evenings and saying hello to the lighter, brighter days. Oh, and the Cadburys Creme Eggs.