Coastal Interior Design
Local designers share masterful tips to overcome décor tedium
This is from Wikipedia (so it must be true): “Cabin fever is an idiomatic term for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated or shut in a small space with nothing to do for an extended period. Cabin fever describes the extreme irritability and restlessness a person may feel in these situations.”
Thus stricken, people have been known to flee into icy woods—ostensibly to their death—rather than stare at the same four walls another second. It’s understandable. By the time that March finally comes around, many New Englanders are sick of the rooms we’ve been looking at all winter.
Happily, you have options. Without ripping out an entire kitchen or installing a steam shower with river stones, there are pre-spring spruce-ups that relieve stir craziness beautifully.
Begin by adding some light to the situation. The Christmas tree may have been retired long ago, but consider digging out a few strings of lights just for the glow of it. While the days are growing longer, there’s still plenty of dark to enjoy their cozy radiance.
Shelley Morris, of Shelley Morris Interiors in New Canaan, agrees, recommending shearling throws, tiny white lights as décor, and plenty of hot chocolate with marshmallows while cold weather lingers.
Transitioning your décor from winter to spring can be accomplished easily with simple switches. Beyond throw pillows, Olga Adler, of Olga Adler Interiors in Westport, recommends removing anything heavy—be it scent or texture. Ditch the egg nog candle for something fresh; trade the wool and velvet for cotton and linen.
Judi A. Granucci, of Design House Interiors in Wallingford, says to keep the green but stow away the comforting pigments of early winter and move on. “Even though it might still be cold, begin to shift to the crisp colors that spring brings,” Granucci says.
During the daylight hours let in as much sunlight as possible and bring in natural elements. Kimberly Levin, of Verve Design, LLC in South Glastonbury, suggests filling your home with vessels of dainty paperwhite blooms, a flowering bulb plant available in different varieties. “They are the winter flower that gives us hope for spring,” she says.
For those who follow such trends, you may be aware of Pantone’s first-ever Color of the Year choice: It’s a blend of two shades—Rose Quartz and Serenity—or, in layman’s terms, baby pink and powder blue. Pantone (the color matching system religiously adhered to by designers) describes this selection as at once calming and reassuring while “coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality.”
While you might not be ready for a petal pink couch, you can’t deny the tranquility of this delicate coupling. Adler says, “Personally, I’m not a fan of pastels, but it reminds me of sunrises off Saugatuck Island, where I live and work. It’s soothing and calming.”
“For me, the key with these two colors is restraint,” says Levin. If used indiscriminately, she says they throw off a powder puff vibe. “With careful editing and balancing of tones,” however, she says, “a little can go a very long way. I think you can neutralize the ‘pasteling’ effect of this color if mixed with grays, soft fawn or even a cream, and a black color scheme could be a fun base.”
Levin also recommends incorporating the understated hues via artwork, a lacquered console, rugs, and other accents.
Granucci similarly advises using this soft duo in tandem with rich tones. “If one is wary of pastels, these colors can most definitely be paired with shades of brown to create an understated look, or black for a striking contrast,” she says, “as well as charcoal for some sophistication.”
“Pastels are best used when combined with colors that compliment them on the color chart,” says Morris. “Just like all colors on the color wheel, find ones that are a bit different than the usual to create some sophistication and explore variations.”
Meanwhile Benjamin Moore has chosen Simply White OC-117 as its Color of the Year, proclaiming it transcendent, powerful and polarizing. “It is either taken for granted or obsessed over,” according to Benjamin Moore Creative Director Ellen O’Neill.
According to image-collecting social media site Pinterest, top trends for 2016 include metallic wallpaper, Scandinavian influence, and bold, geometric design. Of course, the DIY altering of flat-pack furniture (aka “IKEA hacking”) is sure to continue.
So, if you’re hankering to turn your bookcase into a coffee table, go right ahead.
What should the takeaway be for the cabin fever afflicted? Make sure your home is comfortable, and that you surround yourself with what makes you happy. If you just can’t stand the chill for one minute longer, do what Kimberly Levin does and plan a lovely party complete with a beautifully decorated table. “Laughter is good for the soul,” she says, “and surrounding yourself with friends and family makes the season that much more enjoyable.”