Home refresher course with Vineyard interior designers


The fall and winter months are a time for nesting. As you spend more time indoors, whether entertaining or relaxing, this is a great time to make some little changes that can give you a new perspective.

While an entire overhaul might be a great fall mood brightener, there are a number of easy and relatively inexpensive ways to make a change along with the changing season.

Liz Stiving-Nichols, owner and interior designer with MV Interior Design and Bespoke Abode, likes the idea of seasonal change. “For a lot of our clients these are their summer homes. The fabrics and color schemes we’re selecting have a summer feel,” she says. “But we also have our year-round clients and it’s almost a little more fun.”

Mentioning things like throw pillows and blankets, she suggests, “Look at the small, decorative accents. We do a lot of work with textures and layering.”

Wools and other cozy fabrics are one way to transition into the off-season. Color is another. “I love doing one color on an accent wall,” says Ms. Stiving-Nichols. “In the fall it’s always nice to take your cues from the view. We’re so fortunate to be living and working where we are. It’s nice that we get the change of season. A lot of times the focal point of a room is the setting or views. I like supporting those views by using an accent wall across from the view.”

Along with the traditional fall colors, Ms. Stiving-Nichols notes that the currently popular orange can work for any season by switching up the tones. “In the summer, I like pairing orange with navy blues and crisp whites. This time of year, we’re looking at warmer tones – maroons and browns.”

Mary Rentschler of Rentschler & Company Interiors waxes enthusiastic on the comforts of the season. “The whole point this time of year is to cozy things up,” she says. “Rearrange to make things cozier. Cluster chairs around your fireplace if you have one. Color and heft and coziness can all matter this time of year. ”

It’s not just furniture that can be switched around. Ms. Rentschler is a firm believer in using what you’ve got in creative ways. “Create a vignette, a little grouping, a little slice of stuff,” she says. “Rotate things. Shop your goods. Get out a new bowl. Add feathers that you found on the beach. Bring something out that you forgot you had. Take everything off a table and create something new, a new tableaux.”

She adds that simple things like switching up the pictures on the wall and the books on display can make for a much-welcomed change. “I always like to rearrange things this time of year.” For linens, Ms. Rentschler likes to swap out the textures and patterns. “Bring out the nappier stuff. Not the airy white stuff. The oatmeal linens, the plaids.” And with a nod towards practicality she suggests, “Put a basket out for the boots and shoes so it’s not chaos.”

As the days get shorter, Ms. Rentschler notes that interior light takes on added importance. She recommends a focus on atmospheric light. Scents, too, can make a big difference, especially at a time when our houses are more closed up. “I always think smells are great,” says Ms. Rentschler. “Put the roast chicken in. Bring in the wood. Put some cider with spices on the pot bellied stove.” And, for good measure, she adds, “Make sure you have a couple of bottles of good red wine to hunker down with.”

Lisa Benson of Lisa Benson Interior Design also recommends adding an appealing scent – possibly in the form of a natural potpourri. “The suggestion here is to find a very slight fragrance that you really love and put it in a dish some place,” she says.

This is just one of a multitude of small details that she names as means to a change in outlook.

Among Ms. Benson’s suggestions: Add little floor spotlights to a room: “You can redirect them behind a large plant or a sculpture and you can really change a room.” Frame a photograph of someone you love and put it next to your bed or desk. “It could be your wife, your husband, your lover, your kid, or your cat. Every time you look at it, it’s going to make you happy.”

Commission a knitting friend to make you an afghan in the colors of your choice. “We have all these fiber arts people here. I love afghans. They add a lot of color and texture to a room when you put them on a sofa or chair.”

Ms. Benson also believes in looking at the bigger picture by making small outdoor changes. “Paint your mailbox,” she suggests, “You know how here on the Vineyard we give directions by the mailbox or little things? I have a friend whose house I kept missing. Her mailbox was so bland. Her daughter painted it with flowers.”

The portal to your home also merits treatment, according to Ms. Benson. “I just freshened up a friend’s front door. Sanded and stained it. We look at our front doors so often, we don’t see them. Freshening it up has a huge impact.”

For a little winter cheer, invite some birds over. “I love having a focal point outside of my window,” says Ms. Benson. “One of the great focal points is a bird bath. In the winter, birds really need water almost more than food.” As opposed to a feeder, birdbaths require little maintenance. Just add water. Ms. Benson notes that there are solar birdbaths available that won’t freeze over unless the weather gets really harsh. For maximum effect, go the extra mile. “If you’re going to install a bird bath, treat yourself to washing your windows. You forget how great everything looks after they’re cleaned.”

Ms. Benson even has a suggestion for an easy cosmetic change for a kid’s room. “Add a fun string of lights. They have ballerinas – just about everything now.

“This time of year you really want to do things that are fun and make you feel good. You can even do them with kids. They really do have an impact.”