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    Quick, fresh tips to brighten up your home for spring

    I’m delighted to be part of The Boston Globe’s new real estate section as a helpful and (hopefully) inspiring source of advice for those interested in making their homes a unique place to live. As an interior designer in the Boston area for more than seven years, I’ve had a lot of experience helping homeowners find their style and create homes that reflect not only their taste but their lifestyles as well. Let me help with whatever I can — from what color to paint your cabinets to how to hang drapes properly.

    To kick things off, it’s time to talk about spring! If you are anything like me, I am sure you have grown a bit weary of your décor after being cooped up inside for what seems to have been the longest winter ever. Spring is the time to shake off the staleness in your spaces and make some changes to help you feel like you have a fresh start.

    So throw open the windows, get inspired by the fresh air, and mix it up to give your rooms a new attitude with these easy, inexpensive changes:


    Fresh paint. Nothing changes the feeling of a room like a new paint job. Consider a bolder color if you’ve been settling for neutrals, or brighten up your space with crisp white or light grey as a backdrop. Some current favorites of mine are Sherwin-Williams Pediment for a light warm grey and Classic French Grey for something more dramatic; Farrow and Ball’s Arsenic for a very bold green and Hague Blue for a moody deep peacock color; and Benjamin Moore’s Mellow Pink for something soothing and Ewing Blue for a crisp spa-like turquoise.

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    New pillows. Replacing your throw pillows with new covers for the season can totally change the look of your space. You can find great ones made of designer fabrics on sites like Etsy. Pop them over old pillow forms for a jolt of new life. A good rule of thumb is to mix a geometric or striped pattern with something more organic like a floral or a paisley. Or for a more streamlined look stick with a solid color in a nice texture like velvet and one pattern.

    A fresh rug. Swap in a serene and simple jute or sisal rug for the warmer months to give your space texture. You’ll be surprised how a large, neutral area rug can really open up a cramped space. If you want a more eclectic look, you can layer a small patterned flat weave or vintage rug over a larger sisal. Make sure your rugs run under at least two legs of all the seating in the room to avoid the dreaded “rug island” look.

    A hint of green. Nothing brings more life to a room than a live plant or cut florals. It’s amazing how a potted tree can wake up a dead corner of a room. Research what kind of house plants work best with the kind of light you have in the room, as not all varieties work with all kinds of light. For example, the ever-popular fiddle leaf fig tree seen in many a design magazine only thrives in direct bright light. (I learned this the hard way via two dead ones.) Pick a plant that works with your space, or instead incorporate a few succulents tucked into a cool planter for some plant life with very little commitment.

    Erin Gates blogs daily at and is releasing her first book in October with Simon & Schuster. Send questions to