One Vernal Equinox later and we can be fresher, tidier, slimmer and happier, says Kya deLongchamps.
Spring, or the Vernal Equinox begins in just over three weeks — or the 20th of March just before 5pm, if you’re clinging on by the hour. Vernal-Equinox — it makes me want to burst out through the front door and leap about bared-footed over that hoary old lawn. Failing that demented display, it’s time to think about inviting in some fresh and seasonal, and ultimately, spring-thinking to your DIY decorating.
OPEN UP TO THE LIGHT
Natural light should be the stage upon which all other lighting for a room plays out. As the quality, intensity and duration of the light changes over the next few weeks, with properly installed double or triple glazed units, open up to those God given watts.
Take the most dramatic approach and seasonally re-dress the windows for the longer, brighter days. This could be a move to a lighter colour and weight of fabric or totally removing the curtains to sheers or stripping bare, if privacy allows. Pure white rollers blinds or romans blind will introduce versatile new ways with a window and views. Try Tuiss- ready to install rollers from €35.10 delivered and romans from €40.53. www.tuiss.ie.
Sheers twice the width of the windows will generally fluff up enough to obscure the outside, unless your lights are ablaze by night. Looking at the supporting poles and tie-back positions — are they long enough to pull the curtains away from the actual void created by the window? It’s amazing what another 10cm each side can do.
WINKLE DOWN THE THERMOSTAT
Since the 1960s, the average temperature in a domestic house has gone up 1 centigrade a decade, taking us to a comparatively blistering 20C (that’s 64.9F to 70.3F). According to the University of London (UCL) in a recent article for Obesity Reviews, this cosy stupor further enhanced by modern draught proofing, is having a negative affect on our health, reducing the important thermal stress the body uses to activate what is called brown adipose tissue. In short nature intended that we should discreetly burn off calories to keep ourselves warm, even indoors. A four centigrade rise in temperature reduces the amount of energy used to heat the body by as much as 800 calories. No-one would advocate shivering in your own home, but it is worth remembering that the thermostat linked to the heating does move in the other direction and the timers should be winkled along with our fickle weather conditions. Try even half a degree if you’re walking around in shorts at 21C and keep to moderate layers unless you really need that extra jumper.
SPACE FOR SPIRIT
Yes, it’s the de-cluttering manifesto of every interior writer, but when it comes to our space-cramming consumerist ways — things have never been worse. In 2012, a team of anthropologists from UCLA went into 32 dual-income American houses, and found up to 2,260 items set out on display in just three rooms. The contents were published last year a ground breaking book, Life at Home in the Twenty First Century.
We may be tut-tutting over those hoarders, and arranging odd numbers of tasteful things on the mid-century modern, but I’ll put money on it, that you’ve squirrelled away some nutty ballast right through the winter. If hapless stuff is ruining perfectly adequate storage or is out on remote shelving sucking up the dust — take just ten minutes a day to purge a drawer, shelf or cabinet of random things to donate, dump or sell.
If you’re driven completely mad by a colour scheme, paint the room white in a flat emulsion from around €12 per litre. Chances are it will cool down the more frenetic elements and can serve as an undercoat if you do seize on a deeper wall colour. Frankly, given its intense purity, talent to inflate space and reduce reliance on artificial lighting, you may never go back.
Free standing furniture is not bolted to the floor. It’s not actually against the law to change rugs simply for light relief, but in most Irish homes you would be forgiven the style sheriffs where waiting to pounce if you un-pickled the layout.
There’s rarely more than one or two places to put a bed in a room, but just about everywhere else scaling furniture up and down and making choices, and simple seasonal changes, can re-invigorate your interior landscapes for next to nothing. It’s momentarily unsettling, but stick with the change for at least a week. Move things to create a better traffic and light flow, refresh chairs in simple covers (try IKEA, run up your own or learn how to sheet wrap on PinInterest). Break the rules — this is your house. If you don’t have a dining area, a simple trestle table can serve as a sideboard for hobbies, work and display and be assembled anywhere from the hallway to the centre of a livingroom for dining duty. Does that corner in the family room have to die in tragic shadow imprisoned by a little used chair or side-table? Why give up several square metres in the meeting of two walls?
Where electric light fails, simply introducing a pale piece of glazed artwork or a well placed mirror to illuminate its possibilities.
WINTER INTO SPRING
Things may seem pretty glum in the garden right now, but there’s generally a brave rain spattered hellebore or wildly optimistic legion of daffodils heading up the spring show.
Look beyond the obvious, keeping those winter cuttings from the shrubs like skimmia japonica, pittosporum, and jagged red thrusts of mahonia japonica. Budding lengths of otherwise bare birch and hazel branches can hold their own in showy vertical arrangements against a pale wall, (suspend a few blown painted eggs for a cheat’s Easter tree).
I find the colour-saturated map of lichen from fallen limbs to be strangely fascinating — enjoyed just for itself. Collect up morsels of emerald moss sneaking through the paving to root tiny arrangements indoors, ideal as a shield for some prodded oasis in simple tin cans complete with their labels to play with the colours of the flowers chosen. Some evergreen herbs such as rosemary can gift not only a gorgeous show of leaves, but a lungful of delicious scent to brush through your fingers.
When they die back, pick the leaves off for winter stews.
Fight shy of taking truly wild flowers and think ahead for next year’s planting to provide a floristry on your doorstep. Prune shrubs for cuttings rather than vandalising them, and make an arrangement of leaves, first spiking it with cheap supermarket flowers or the odd early bloom from the garden.
A cut flower feed will add days of life to leaves as well as flowers.
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