AT HOME NOW: Spring … Your Excuse To Go Big


Mother's Day is just behind us.  And I had a nice little cup of coffee with myself that morning, hours before my quarantined children got up (they are honestly like bats - how will they ever get back on track?) But I was thinking about mothering, and being mothered, and mother figures in my life - and how all those things are inter-related parts of this nu=y loop-de-loop cycle of life we are living. And nothing marks that cycle more than Spring in New England. Yes, yes, I know it actually comes earlier - but we all know that around here we have to wait for Mother's Day to put out our porch plants. Or before we even think about planting those brave and tender seedlings that have been appearing in the backgrounds of the food photos that my friends send me. "Never mind the banana bread," they seem to say, "look at US!"

And so it's time. Time to spring clean (and that could be a whole article but who wants to write that?) and time to welcome in some of that against-all-odds, cheerful bravado of early Spring.

So take a look around - inside and out. Do I have to say out loud that it's time to take down the Christmas wreath? (If I'm talking to you, get up right this very second...) But also look around for anything else wintery - the pinecones in a basket on your porch, the dark table runner, the wool blankets on your couch. Bring them to your attc and set them all free for the summer!

Do you have a stash of seasonal items in your attic? I know, I know... it sounds so stuffy and who has the time and just really the inclination to maintain such a thing? But it really doesn't take much to make a big difference. And don't do it because of how it will look - do it because of how it feels! Pick a nice day, open the windows wide and swap out your few items. Retire the dark comforters and shake out those wrinkly cotton duvets! Swap the holiday red bath towels for the cozy white ones. Trade those heavy, lined curtains in for some crisp sheer panels. Yes, it will be brighter in the morning but who wants to waste a minute of these gloriously long days! (Oh those short days in the winter just crush my sole.)

It's always amazed me, how little you actually need to do. I mean, think about how the simple sight of a straw hat hanging in the mudroom can make you feel after a long winter. Just pick a few high-visibility spots to create your spring moment - and then call it a day. I usually pick something outside (porch, front stoop, or fence,) something when you walk in (foyer table, dining centerpiece, or kitchen island) and then if I feel like it, I add a few other places that I will personally enjoy (like the window sill over my sink, or a spot in my office, or in my bedroom.) And here is the trick - don't try too hard. Go out and do what you love and spring will come to you.

I know it's cliche - but I love the woods and I love the beach. And I have found so many treasures in both those places that I can't believe I've left any for the rest of you! That knot of wood looks just like a nest, and those smooth sexy beach stones - they look like eggs. And wait, someone gave me a candle holder that looked like a bird … Your story will be different - but you'll find it. I know you will.

But is that advice frustratingly vague for some of you? "What does she mean my story will find me. What does that have to do with this porch table I'm trying to spruce up?" I know what you mean, so I'll share a few design Fps. Let's pretend that when you open your front door, you are met with a dining room table and that you want to put something on it that says Happy Spring even though we had snow flurries last week.

So, you can either "Group" or you can "Go Big." But remember, your biggest ace in the hole is always the unexpected. So, go big with a large urn filled with gnarly tree branches that you weave cut flowers into. Or you can have those wonderfully crazy kids of yours roll up some paper-cone flowers and hang them over your table from your light fixture. You can "go big" with a tower of driftwood, or an old toolbox filled with moss and birch bark. Or lay down (or hang!) an ancient hoe and surround it with candle sticks. I mean, I don't know! It's your story - get out there and find it!

Groupings let you have a little of this and a little of that. As a rule of thumb, groupings tend to like odd numbers - groups of three items, or of five items for example. You usually need one thing with some with height - and don't be afraid to stack. Put a squat pansy plant on top of a stack of books - or even on top of another upside-down pot. Honestly... be a scavenger in your own home - I know there is lots of good stuff. Add some candles, a delicate little birds nest you found on a walk, maybe a wine glass stuffed with clover, a stack of sand dollars. or a silly "think spring" sign someone gave you at work. Anything goes! If it starts looking like a big mess - take a step back and simplify. And sometimes it helps to put it all on a tray or a round platter.

I wish we could usher quarantine out with the same spirit we are welcoming spring in. There, there - off you go COVID-19We've all been patient and strong, and the planet has been happy in a way, and my toes are even looking ok with no nail polish... but off you go now we have spring to enjoy!

Jen Coles is a professional home designer and mother of four who lives in Manchester.

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