My home used to feel so bare in January and February, that awkward "tweener" decorating season sandwiched between the holidays and spring. As I took down the bows and baubles, garland and greenery that had brightened my home for months, my everyday decor seemed empty and cold in comparison. So a few years ago, I decided to remedy the situation by spending these months of late winter making my decor fresher, cleaner and cozier than ever. Here's how.
Mary Carol Garrity, Scripps Howard News Service
Celebrate winter: Even though the holidays are over, don't retire your winter greens yet. Use them to add color and texture to your decor until you're ready to decorate for spring. Be sure to remove everything that screams Christmas — wreaths, garland, ribbons — but keep out the greens and trims that look woodsy and natural, then use them as the building blocks for winter displays.
Add some green: This is a wonderful time to get a tropical houseplant or two. I adore ferns, so every winter I pick out a few new ones to display in my Asian blue-and-white cache pot or black iron garden urn. Just the sight of the lush, live plants keeps me going until my garden comes alive again.
Layer up: Another way to warm up a home is to create layers of rich textiles. Dress sofas in an assortment of accent pillows covered with heavier menswear fabrics, like tartan plaids, paisleys and houndstooth. Then finish off the look by resting a neatly folded wool throw over the sofa's back and across the seat.
Edit and upgrade: This is the perfect time of year for a purge. Be honest with yourself as you go through each room, sorting, editing and freshening your decor.
How about accent lighting? Are your lamp bases dated? Are the shades dusty and dingy? Sometimes all it takes is a new shade to transform the look of your room.
Finally, make a list of home-repair and cleanup projects you need to tackle, like freshening up your trim and wall paint, getting carpets and upholstery cleaned and doing minor repairs. Make a vow to yourself that each item will be checked off.
Mary Carol Garrity owns three home-furnishings stores and is the author of several books on home decorating.