(BPT) - As spring blossoms, so does our desire to lighten up - in life and at home. Simple eco-friendly changes to home decor can set the tone for a much fresher and brighter outlook.
Here are five tips to get you started:
Get a color lift
Color has long been credited for its mood-changing qualities. 'Color can really change the energy in a space,' says C. Michael Kleeman, program coordinator of design at The Art Institute of Atlanta. Choose the season's hottest color - orange - or seasonal citrus green, turquoise or sunny yellow, in paint, botanical fabrics and accessories.
A new coat of paint - even on one wall - can immediately set an upbeat mood. Use Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) free paints to protect the environment. 'These paints don't emit toxic fumes and are completely odorless,' says Kleeman. 'They make it possible to paint a bedroom today and sleep in it tonight.'
Lighten up the mood
Give your home an eco-friendly dose of spring with updated lighting, new furniture arrangements and removal of heavy draperies and rugs.
Rachel Simmons, a member of the interior design faculty at The Art Institute of Jacksonville, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design, suggests converting task lighting to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), which are now available in dimmable versions. The reduction in energy consumption translates into a lower monthly electric bill and an overall reduction in the carbon footprint.
Try creating a more flexible floor plan with your furniture. Move a piece or two from one room to another. Angle a sofa or reorient the seating to take advantage of a view or a natural breeze through an open window. Shifting pieces can give a room the appearance of more space, making it feel less cluttered.
For instant brightening, remove heavy draperies and roll up the rug. You can place lightweight panels, preferably organic cotton or linen, on the windows, or leave them uncovered if you don't need draperies for privacy. Leave hardwood floors bare or invest in an inexpensive natural fiber seagrass or jute floor cover for the summer.
Delight in de-cluttering
Spring brings the inspiration to cleanse and purge items no longer needed. In addition to sorting through closets and cupboards, give your home an airier look. Replace heavy accents like wood and ceramics with lighter pieces like baskets or glassware filled with flowers or fruit. Kleeman suggests storing a collection of carefully edited accessories to pull from for each season. Reposition artwork and add mirrors on walls, mantels or even bookshelves to open up a room and give the illusion of more space.
Shop and swap
For an eco-friendly seasonal update, Simmons recommends reusing or repurposing items you already have. A simple piece of furniture like a dresser or chair can be painted in a bright color to liven up a room. Or you might swap items that no longer fit your space with a group of friends or look for bargains in thrift stores or consignment shops. If you do need to purchase new items, look for selections using renewable or organic resources like bamboo, organic cotton or recycled glass.
Bring the outside in
Bring the natural goodness of the outdoors in by adding potted flowers and plants or window boxes. Simmons recommends visiting the local farmers market to find your favorite plants or flowers and place them in locations where you spend time daily. Plants not only add oxygen, but also brighten the indoor environment.
The key to smart decorating for hotter weather is not to overpower the existing elements. 'Small changes can make a dramatic difference in the personality of a room,' says Kleeman.