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Spring Clean Your Style

It’s time to pack up the parkas and make room for lighter threads. Around the home, it is also time to embrace a lighter, refreshed approach.


Spring is the season of renewal. It’s time to pack up the parkas and make room for lighter threads. Around the home, it is also time to embrace a lighter, refreshed approach. Goodbye, insulated blackout drapes; hello, linen window treatments! While you may not be in the market to strip the walls bare and embark on a complete redesign, our local experts spill their secrets on how to reinvent your space without losing your mind or your savings account.

Colors, Textures and Lighting – Oh My!
Lee Chartier, founder of Inside Style in Wakefield, knows that many people find decorating their living spaces an intimidating process. She is also keenly aware that interior design services have a reputation for being a bonafide budget buster, but she’s working hard to defy the myth. Chartier redesigns and reinvents spaces ranging from one room to an entire home. Here she shares her insight on how to give your home an uplifting new look:

Organize your vision: Shopping blindly rarely results in a cohesive, flowing room. Before starting your project (or spending any money), organize your thoughts and create some tangible inspiration to refer back to. This can be done either virtually by using Pinterest or Houzz, or physically by creating a mood board. This initial and essential process will help guide your choices and decisions. It will also prevent you from being distracted by beautiful ideas and objects that may not fit your vision. Either are great tools that will help you realize your dream space.

Choose a color palette: Colors are important; they set the theme for all of the accessories and furnishings. This process can take more time than any of the others but it’s worth it to find the perfect color scheme for you and your room. If you find it difficult to conceptualize this on your own, you may want to contact a color professional.

Buy the big pieces first: The first step in the buying process is locking down the pieces you’re going to be spending the most money on including upholstery, rugs and large furniture. Start with rugs and upholstery first as they will determine the exact shades you’ll use in your color palette. Remember, there are many versions of gray, tan, blue, green, etc. Keep in mind that accessories are the easiest thing to swap out if they don’t work, so it’s best to layer them in later in the process.

Add varying textures: Different materials and textures give a room depth. They’re the pieces that make the space feel like home and not a furniture showroom floor. Play around with velvets, chunky knits and other materials in your throws, pillows and your accessories. You might even consider using texture on walls.

Lighting is key: The amount of light in your space defines the whole atmosphere. Playing with lamp materials (brass, ceramic, wood and glass) as well as sizes and shapes adds texture and interest to your space. A room without good lighting can feel bare and cold. Consider installing dimmers to cater your lighting to the time of day. Inside Style, 155 Main Street, Wakefield. 783-7800

Creating an Organized Space
Kristin MacRae is an organizing and efficiency expert and owner of Organizing In RI. She launched the business in 2012 with the goal of teaching her clients that living an organized lifestyle will save them time and money. She also promotes that organizing and creating successful systems decreases client stress levels and allows them to become more efficient and productive. “Getting organized will bring new energy into the home and you’ll feel energized and excited about your new space,” she says. “Serenity. Sanity. Finally.”

Create a purpose for each room: When a room doesn’t have a purpose, it becomes a drop spot for things that don’t have a home. If a spare room doesn’t have a purpose, it will turn into disorganized chaos in no time. Before you begin the organizing process, jot down and prioritize which spaces you want to tackle and create a vision of how you want to function in each room.

De-clutter: Aside from your keep, toss, donate and sell piles, create a “maybe” pile and a “move to another room” pile. To speed up the process, if you are undecided, toss it in the maybe pile. You’ll find that when you are finished decluttering, the “maybe” pile will likely go into the toss pile. Keep a “move to another room” pile because you want to limit your distractions and stay focused. Transfer these items once you’ve completed the process.

Organizing products: So many people get excited to get organized and they rush out to the store and spend hundreds of dollars on organizing products that don’t work. Organize the space, measure the space and then head to the store with measurements in hand. A product won’t fix the problem. If the product doesn’t work, the system won’t work.

The importance of systems: You want to be as efficient and productive as possible. Think about how you want to function and create your system from there. Everybody functions differently. The simpler the systems, the easier it will be to follow. Re-visit the system in a few months. If the system isn’t working, tweak it to make it work better for you.

Routines: Create routines from these systems and habits will form. Your house will be running like a well-oiled machine. Throughout the year, you’ll be rotating your wardrobe, rotating the hall closet with seasonal items and throwing away expired food from the kitchen. You’ll never have to tackle a big project again because you’ll be de-cluttering as you move throughout the home with these projects. Organizing in RI, Coventry. 323-1165,

Get Nautically Chic

Sherry Pierce, owner/designer of Watch Hill Designs in Westerly, says that design is simply a combination of balance and rhythm. Most people start a room’s reinvention by changing the color scheme. “So, we paint, maybe change the carpet and then we may even repaint again. Yet, that desired ‘magazine perfect room’ still eludes us. My goal in the next five tips is to help put an end to the repainting and have you loving the first color you choose,” says Sherry.

Observe and study: Take a good look at those photos you’ve pinned or torn out over the last year. There’s a common theme. Now it’s time to train your eye to see like a photographer, artist or even a designer and capture that theme in your home. Your eye is drawn to these photos due to the balanced effect of using color at eye-, mid- and floor-level and then diagonally or asymmetrically around a room, thus a harmonious, pleasing to the eye, photo perfect room is achieved. The human eye desires color and texture to flow around the room like a rhythmic gymnast’s ribbon. When the eye is interrupted from the flow – it actually searches for it. When a room has these elements, a pleasing effect sets in and voilà, your pinned photo!

Start with one thing that inspires you: There is an old saying everyone will recognize and it fits perfectly in designing with a nautical flair: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” Make this your starting point. Use that old rocking chair passed down from grandma. Set it in the corner, add a new embroidered anchor pillow in the color you love and you now have a start to your design: a diagonally placed piece with mid-level color. Now follow the previous tip and add the eye- and floor-level around the room. “Eye-level,” according to Sherry, encompasses artwork, drapery, the pole you hang the drapery on and anything that the eye sees directly when you are standing in the room (not literally eye level).

Get creative with an “out-of-the-box” nautical flair: “Color is not just from a fan deck from Sherwin Williams,” Sherry says. “It is also the natural textures and fixtures in our homes: grout, fireplace stone, a solid wood mantel, a light fixture or a drapery rod at mid-level.” Hardware, she adds, is one way to be creative. “[Use] cotton rope as your drapery rod, add grommet drapery panels and presto an out-of-the-box, mid-level, nautical look that will have your friends raving.” Another idea: take standard boat cleats, which can be found at most major hardware stores, and mount them six inches apart in the hall. “Now we have an easy, inexpensive nautical coat rack,” she says. 

Add texture: “Texture is what brings the depth to these photos we all love,” explains Sherry. “Texture comes in many forms: high gloss or matte paint, glass or metal fixtures, soft or sisal carpeting, different fabrics, the stone on your fireplace, we could go on. Hone your mind to start looking for these in the same way we use color.” A cotton throw rug in front of the sliding door where your new grommet drapery panels hang on your out-of-the-box nautical hardware will complete the floor-level transition needed for that harmonious feel,” she says. “Open your mind – a large shell your kids found at the beach can be placed on the coffee table for a natural texture in the room. Paint grandma’s rocking chair in a high gloss navy. You want to be on the cutting edge of design? Mix up the room and the mind’s eye with the unexpected texture of contemporary high gloss paint on an older piece. Now we are talking designer room!”

High design does not have to equal high budget: “I started decorating 26 years ago and one of the ways I got the word out was by giving a Sunday brunch lecture at retirement properties. My goal was to explain how the above tips could be achieved in under $500,” says Price. “Eye-, mid- and floor-level design can be achieved with a piece of art you fall in love with at the Wickford Art Festival this summer. Mid-level design is the embroidered anchor pillow you have sitting on grandma’s high gloss, navy rocker. Floor-level is the area rug the kids hand stenciled to match the drapery panels now hanging on the rope rod. All of these items add up to a finished design that can move with you, or better yet, be changed out for a new color palette every season.” Watch Hill Designs, 140 Main Street, Westerly. 596-9282,

In Living Color

Debora Stevens, an interior designer and color consultant at The Color House in North Kingstown knows her way around a color wheel. With a clientele that often looks to embrace their coastal Rhode Island surroundings by creating a casual, nautical vibe, Debora says, “there are so many easy and inexpensive ways to change the look of your home to a South County chic style, perfect for the upcoming spring and summer seasons.”

Add paint: The color of our walls define the feel of the space: light and airy, rich and sophisticated, or bright and cheerful. “At The Color House, the paint colors our South County neighbors ask for, by far, are the light gray and cool blue tones,” she says. “They are seeking a serene, coastal feel to their homes.” The most popular colors are Gray Owl, Quiet Moments, Revere Pewter, soft neutrals with gray undertones. Simply White is Benjamin Moore’s 2016 Color of the Year, she adds, and works very well as a trim color to complement the pale shades.

Embrace colorful accents: “A good rule of thumb is to find an accent color you love and use it in at least three places in the room,” shares Deborah. “It creates continuity within the space.” But using too many accent colors can make a space feel cluttered, she warns. “Some easy ideas include placing a colorful teapot, flowerpot or fruit bowl in the kitchen; laying a bright throw blanket over the back of a couch, layering colorful pillows or incorporating area rugs such as Dash and Albert or Claire Murray to create a beachy feel.”

Create your own collectibles: “A collection of smooth, colorful stones and beach glass arranged in a bowl makes for a natural coastal display,” advises Debora. “Seashells collected from walks on the beach can look intriguing in a variety of glass vessels. A row of starfish standing on a shelf, or a driftwood find can add interest to an empty space. One of my favorite collectibles is a glass jug filled with layers of beach sands collected from seashore vacations. It is amazing to see the variety of colors and textures, while reminding us of wonderful holiday memories.”

Seek out vintage finds: “Browsing local antique and thrift shops for vintage finds will stir your imagination and create excitement about the project you are working on by bringing fresh ideas to your nautical theme,” says Debora. Fishing nets, oars, portholes, ship’s wheels, anchors, knotted ropes, nautical flags, maps and charts, lanterns, life rings, buoys and ship models, she suggests, help create interest and authenticity.

Incorporate window treatments: Plantation shutters, soft sheer drapes, tabbed or grommeted crisp linen panels or valances in soft nautical stripes can give any room a coastal vibe,” she suggests. “Woven wood shades add natural color and texture to your windows. Newer designer roller and screen shades also come in a variety of textures and are becoming a popular option for today’s window dressings. Roman shades can lend a clean, simple look to your windows.” The Color House, Locations in North Kingstown, Wakefield and Cranston.