Spring Shower CurtainAre you ready to get down to business and clear away those musty remainders of a long, gray winter? Not every bit of "spring cleaning" requires your dust mop, broom and pail. Turn preparing your home for spring into a fun adventure by using a few innovative, secret touches interior designers rely upon. Bring spring's bright cheer and positive energy indoors with these creative projects.

Laced with sheer beauty
It won't take long to remove your heavy, velvet curtain panels and replace them with one of this spring's most popular looks: sheer curtains, valances and panels that are embellished with Swiss polka dots, swirling ivy vines, bumblebees or stripes. These simple window treatments can slip onto your existing rods, or, for a real change, try a wrought iron rod with fanciful finials. The white, cream or ivory tones of the sheers will give a real lightening and brightening effect to a room once encumbered with the wintry warmth of heavier fabrics. Plow & Hearth Country Home catalog offers a variety of styles and colors at reasonable prices. Don't miss their extraordinary sheer, pale aqua shower curtain that could double as a window panel. It's printed with stunning pink, lavender and green hydrangeas. Or, instead of a sheer, try a lace panel from Rue de France—let the sun shine in through gorgeous, intricate lace that features crisp designs and cutwork.
Add nature's (Lemon) zest
Use all-natural ingredients to infuse your home with a fresh, organic feeling. Fruits, bright green artichokes, forced branches, and pebbles and stones are standard fare for any room where you want a touch of spring. For some zesty color head for Simon Pearce, one of the country's premier glassware shops. Opt for two tall, simple glass pedestal urns. Fill them up with small, shiny river stones for a textured decorative treat. Or fill one with fresh, bright yellow lemons from your local grocer; pile up shiny green limes in the other. Use this fresh, natural decoration on your luncheon table, flanking your mantel or on a low, oversized coffee table and surround them with clean white candles. You can also fill the urns halfway with the fruit, add water and insert long-stemmed flowers, creating a stunning arrangement using the fruit as an anchor. Tuck the floral stem ends in between the fruit, using as many colorful tulips, hydrangeas and peonies as it will hold. For a single dramatic effect, use only long-stemmed, yellow forsythia branches as a contrast to the limes.
The impact of hardware
Want to make a remarkably quick but effective upgrade? You'll be amazed at how simply changing the knobs and drawer pulls on your kitchen or bath cabinets will make an instant, eye-popping difference. Do you have traditional cherry cabinetry? Unscrew the brass hardware and replace it with something in trendy brushed aluminum—perhaps old-fashioned "bread drawer" style pulls, or knobs shaped like beehives or twigs, or whimsical knives-and-spoons. For a light, fresh look, choose clear or lightly tinted, multi-faceted glass knobs shaped like flowers or sleek squares. Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Lowe's and even local antique shops offer offbeat, unique hardware that will add new punch to your tired kitchen. And while you're shopping for new kitchen knobs, select a few choice designs to update your bedroom bureau or guest room desk. Appleyard's of Boston offers adorable, hand-painted wooden knobs featuring topiaries, animals, and whimsical teapots and cups.
Wash your windows
Does this sound silly? It's not. Washing your windows inside and out can give you one of spring's greatest gifts: the ability to look out and clearly see nature in all its glory. And it will allow bright, clean sunshine inside, giving your home added glow and enhancing the colors of walls, carpets and artwork inside. If you don't want to hire a professional window washing company, invest in a good squeegee, oversized bucket and ammonia. If you live in an apartment, request that your landlord provide this service. When you wipe down your windows, use old newspaper—yes, old newspaper, or even better, newspaper that isn't yet printed, which you can find at packing stores. The texture and inherent qualities in the newsprint make for a streak-free finish. You'll be amazed at the difference this simple cleanup will make in your home.

BambooFlower power

It simply wouldn't be spring without oodles of pots filled with blooming classics like gloxynia, hydrangeas, tulips and paperwhites. But instead of using a regular old terra cotta pot, use unusual containers for real drama. Consider unique plant holders like the giant, oversized teacups and saucers from Spode. These elegant porcelain teacups look spectacular when planted with miniature daffodils, crocus and begonia. Line your kitchen windowsill with bright daffodils set in old, round yellow country bowls (don't plant directly into the bowl—set a clay pot inside the bowl and cover the top with moss). For an elegant, traditional touch, set ivy topiaries in tall, painted tole urns. Use your grandmother's oversized country crock and install an abundant Boston fern inside. Place it in front of your spring fireplace for a natural firescreen. Having a dinner party? Purchase some long vines of trailing ivy and wind them loosely around your kitchen or dining room chandelier's arms for a fresh, cottage look. Consider handsome Chinese bamboo, which is one of the season's hottest trends. Set several stalks in a tall, clear glass vase. Tie them together with twine. This is a great arrangement for a low table in your living room or on a bedside night stand. This simple, sophisticated look is very chic, and since bamboo represents everlasting growth and renewal, it's the perfect symbol for spring.
Scissors, paper and glue
Bring new pattern and color into your room schemes by upgrading an old open-faced hutch or freestanding shelf with wallpaper or fabric applied to the visible shelf back. Select a lively stripe, busy floral, or old-world toile wallpaper and line the shelf backs with cut-to-size pieces. Or try your favorite fabric cut with pinking sheers and applied with tacky spray glue. This simple project can add immense charm to an old piece of furniture and change its look completely, and it's more economical than papering an entire room. When you finally add your collection of milk glass, old Roseville pottery or grandmother's porcelain plates to your newly lined shelf, they'll really pop out and call attention to themselves when set against such a unique background. Imagine a chipped white kitchen hutch lined with an oversized blue and white check fabric. Add your blue and white Willow Ware plates and teacups and you now have a strong statement piece.

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