If any season can be associated with a definite desire to decorate, it has to be Spring. After the winter we've had, it isn't coming soon enough! The term Spring Cleaning, dating back to before the turn of the century, inspired many feelings. It meant untold back-breaking hours of work beating rugs, white washing woodwork, polishing silver and cleaning the house from top to bottom. But with it came to the great satisfaction of cleanliness, orderliness and the newness of Spring. Often, winter sewing and quilting projects added a new touch, and the first breath of color would come straight from the garden.
Our human desire to renew as the earth does translates into Spring becoming the busiest design season of the year. In truth, if people wanted to be ready for Spring, they would prepare in winter, but most people don’t think ahead until there is strong evidence of the season’s changing. Then frustration abounds when shoppers find an 8-10 week wait before furnishings are delivered. Impulse buying ensues – a dangerous pastime since purchasing what you can have immediately may not be the best possible long range decision. Further, starting with an inappropriate purchase (wrong color, scale or style) may put you on a one way street to continued misdirection.
What can you do if Spring and the urge to redecorate arrive simultaneously?
1. Do a real clean up and throw out. Organize closets, discard clutter and simplify your surroundings. This will not only provide a sense of satisfaction but will force you to made intelligent decisions about items you need or want. Now you can see which furnishings can stay and look well with just a “face-lift”.
2. Make a plan in writing. Use graph paper and a ruler and measure the room, measuring all the pieces you’d like to keep, as well as the room itself. Moving the furniture on paper saves a lot of wear and tear on your back and enables you to see many options.
3. Now rearrange the furniture carefully, bearing in mind that some pieces may need to be reupholstered. Try to visualize the end result by using the pieces you have as “place holders”.
4. Don’t forget your plan when you shop. Be flexible. If you find something you really like and your plan can be modified, buy it. If, however, your purchase will cause havoc with what exists as well as your budget – wait. Look further. Diligence and patience go a long way in decorating.
5. If you are on a limited budget, painting, repairing and slip covering can make truly amazing changes to existing rooms. If you are handy and can do some or all of the labor yourself, you can stretch your money even further. If you are hiring labor, get references, and see their work.
6. Pick up that old wall to wall carpet if you are lucky enough to have wood floors underneath and go for cheerful area rugs, throws and pillows to give your home a new look for Spring.
7. Attend to minor repairs inside and out (screens, light bulbs, dripping faucets, etc.)
8. Look for Spring sales and bargains. The “bed in a bag” concept can transform a bedroom without changing the furniture. The bedding and window treatments are all coordinated for you at very affordable prices. Try shopping consignment to find that great deal on a budget. (Like Uniquely Natalie, right here in St. James).
9. If you like to cook, start an herb garden in your kitchen window to nourish you as well as cheer you.
10. Bring Spring in to your home with fresh flowers from your garden or the supermarket. Replace weekly or when they start to wilt.
11. Get the BBQ and outdoor furniture ready for entertaining so company won’t surprise you at the last minute.
12. Make your front door a “Spring like” entry to your welcoming home with early blooming flower pots or planters.
When you have a challenging design project which is beyond you, you can always seek professional advice. It will save you time and money in the long run and will allow you to enjoy the results without the additional stress to your already busy lifestyle. So take a walk, smell the roses (or early bloom) and enjoy the change of season. HAPPY SPRING and here’s hoping it comes soon!
An interview with
The year 2014 has brought yet another dimension to the arsenal of Natalie Weinstein’s companies serving homeowners on Long Island and beyond. Uniquely Natalie, a retail outlet for home furnishings and accessories, has grown. It began last year as a designer driven shop on Lake Avenue in St. James adjoining the new larger headquarters of Natalie Weinstein Design Associates. The vacant original building, a landmark vaudeville theater built in the early 1900’s directly across a municipal parking lot, still beckoned. With the continued goal of enabling everyone to enjoy a beautiful home no matter what their budget, Natalie decided to expand into the world of consignment furniture, thus going full circle from home, office, and public space interior design to quality pre-owned furniture.
HOUSE caught up with Natalie at her corporate offices to find out more:
House - Natalie, what prompted you to open a furniture consignment business?
Nat – Actually there were several “signs” since we relocated. It was almost as if I were guided to make the decision. I love the old vaudeville theater. Bernie and I started his company there in 1985 and it has special meaning to me. Whenever I thought about selling it, something always stopped me. Also, since my design firm started in the 70’s, many of my former clients are now relocating and downsizing. While I’ve been having fun with “re-do’s”, they have many beautiful things that just don’t fit. Finally it was my wonderful staff who have been so supportive of the idea, some who are experienced in retail and consignment, and all who are willing to take on a new challenge.
House – How will this consignment store work?
Nat – As a design firm, obviously you can’t take the “decorator” out of our mindset. So we’ll only be receiving furniture and home accessories that are “like new” or very good condition and we’ll be setting up vignettes. We’ll be open to the public Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a special time for designers to shop and merchandise will be picked up and delivered over the weekend or evenings, so people can buy and sell on their schedule.
House - Will there be other things for sale?
Nat – We will also have quality handbags and jewelry as well as sports memorabilia, art, antiques, collectibles and some new items. As time goes on we’ll see what the public wants. Since this is a new venture, we’re excited about the future and what it holds.
House – Natalie, you've been a designer for more than 40 years. In the last few years, you've expanded your firm, continued your association with WALK Radio, debuted a new total home rug collection under your own brand, celebrated over a decade with your free Home Decorating Club, speak and write about good design often and undertaken so many other new projects, including this new Uniquely Natalie consignment store. I can hardly list it without getting tired. How do you actually do it?
Nat – Truthfully, I wouldn't be happy any other way. I live my passion, the world of design, every day and every day something new and exciting seems to pop up. I just get up, face the world with a smile, and go! Of course the wings beneath my feet are my work family, my dear staff, who encourage me. I often leave them exasperated, but they are always there to support me. Uniquely Natalie is one project each and every one of us views with great excitement. We love seeking out great merchandise and finding it a new home and we love the people we meet along the way.
House – Does this mean your design firm will take a back seat to your “new baby”?
Nat – On the contrary, my clients, who become my friends and extended family, are the reason I love what I do so much. The creativity and stimulating challenge of their projects are the wonder of my day. That diversity keeps me and my team always on our toes. Uniquely Natalie is really a project born from many years of contacts, clients and sources. Now we can bring something “unique” to the public in the way of consignment shopping and expand our horizons in creating beautiful surroundings that bring people to the level of their personal best.