WRITER | JEANINE MATLOW
When the dark days of winter come calling, Michiganders tend to spend more time inside. Why not create a lighter and brighter home interior to help you through the gloomy months? Get inspired with some guidance provided by Mary Liz Curtin, co-owner of Leon & Lulu, a roller rink-turned-shopping-destination in Clawson. It’s filled with everything from furniture and home décor to clothing, gifts, and more.
According to Curtin, the first step to brightening your space is to get rid of clutter. She also suggests the creative use of baskets to organize books and magazines. After that, add new pillows and other accents for a simple update to your rooms. “People often choose light and bright pillow varieties for summer and cozy and cuddly styles for the winter months,” says Curtin. “Add a couple of candles. That way, everything smells good.”
Curtin believes every sofa should have a throw blanket, and she prepares hers for the season each fall. “I wash them or have them dry cleaned, so they’re fluffy and nice and ready to go for winter,” she says.
With shorter days and longer nights, task lighting becomes essential. “Lamps illuminate whatever you’re reading or doing with your hands, and they have a much more flattering glow than overhead lights,” says Curtin, who also recommends cleaning your lightbulbs (when they’re not hot). “They do get dusty. All of a sudden, your room becomes cheerful and bright.”
White can brighten your interiors if it’s the right shade of white for the space, says Curtin, who suggests shopping at stores with decent return policies, so you can see how pieces work in your home. Keep in mind that many items remain in short supply, so you might have to rely on what’s currently in stock.
Slipcovers can lighten the mood in a room as well. Remember to switch them with the seasons and make sure you have a place to store them. You can also get your carpets and furniture cleaned to help freshen your rooms.
Artwork can get tired over time due to fading and frame nicks. Consider having your favorite pieces rematted or reframed. For optimal displays, commit to one substantial piece of art or a collection of smaller pieces that read as one grouping for greater impact. Artwork can go anywhere. “The bathroom is even a good place for a great piece of art,” adds Curtin.
You can also frame your kids’ artwork, updated for a rotating gallery that strikes a lighthearted note. “It just looks so good, and it makes kids feel really important,” she says. “It’s a great way to brighten your spaces and make their day.”
Fresh flowers offer another way to cheer up a room. “I think they are as important and integral to your health and well-being as broccoli,” says Curtin. “Put a couple of little ones in bud vases in your bathroom. It’s nice to have something at eye level when you’re brushing your teeth.”
You don’t need a new vase to make a statement. Anything can be a container, from an old soda bottle to crystal goblets. “It’s a wonderful way to set your table with your wine glasses as a centerpiece,” she says.
Curtin likes to use cloth napkins, sterling silver, and pretty plates for any occasion, because what are you saving them for? For tablecloths, she recommends quilts, Indian bed covers, and Moroccan dhurries. “The rugs are very soft, and they look great on a table,” she says.
She also suggests perking up your entry with something that makes you smile. Curtin likes to add a mirror by the front and back doors that reflect light and let you take one last look before you head out. “Just keep them clean and remember that they are another part of your whole artwork collection,” she says. Look for oversized and one-of-a-kind varieties.
A fresh scent can also lighten your environment, like the Lampe Berger catalytic fragrance lamps that eliminate the cooking smells from last night’s dinner. “They offer a fabulous way to have your home smelling and looking great,” says Curtin.
Lastly, she says the dead of winter can be a great time to force flower bulbs. Open your draperies and blinds to fill your rooms with natural light and enjoy the blooms.