It’s not all spring clean, clean, clean when it comes to a seasonal home refresh. Yes, the odd corner and shelf could always do with a dust – and I’ve covered a few of the less-obvious areas to go over here – but there are other ways to give your rooms, and the possessions in them, a low-cost face-lift that will make things feel brand-new for the warmer, brighter months ahead.
Dig out your vases
Fresh flowers are such a joy, and now’s a good time to bring them back into your home if you’ve taken a break for winter, especially if you’ve substituted them with dried or silk flowers during the colder months. Give your vases a thorough wash to make them sparkle again, and replace ones that look tired.
Remember that cut flowers keep better in water that’s changed daily, and popping in a drop of bleach is a good tip to maintain freshness and keep bugs at bay. Also, when you’re arranging flowers in your spring vases, strip the lower stems of leaves and debris, as these can soon turn into a slimy mess.
Swap your curtains
Admittedly, this is a luxury, but for a total room transformation each year, keep two sets of curtains. A gauze-like lightweight material billowing by an open window is stunning for spring and summer. In the winter, you’ll want to feel cosier and a heavyweight fabric will be more appropriate.
Alternatively, if you’re investing in new curtains at the moment, think about a reversible set that gives two different moods. Hang one way for winter, showing off texture, warm tones and pattern. Then, on the reverse, go for a plain, light neutral that lifts the colour palette in the room for the sunnier months.
Tuck away winter footwear
Clean and polish your warm boots and winter shoes, and gently stuff the toes with crumpled up newspaper to ensure they keep their shape. Shoe boxes make excellent storage containers, so don’t throw them away after purchase. If you’re feeling creative, decorate each box so you know the contents from a distance. Stack your winter shoes and boots at the back or top of your wardrobe and bring forward your summer selection.
For a nation of shoe lovers, we’re often pretty lazy about upkeep. If you have many different-coloured shoes, clear polish is an economical buy. Worn-down heels are not a good look, so decide now if it’s worth spending money on repairs or whether it’s time to replace or get rid and free up some more storage space.
Spruce up your shelves
The resurgence in popularity of open shelving is very much driven by aesthetics. Of course, they look so much better when everything is clean and tidy, so take another look at yours if you’ve gone for this type of storage.
Do the shelves need a fresh coat of paint? While you remove your items and dust, think about reorganising the contents. If you own mountains of books, give them space and pop a few ornaments or pictures in-between for added interest.
Make utensils shine
The downside of keeping all those beautiful ceramics and utensils on show is that they can get a bit dusty if they’re not frequently used. So it’s a good idea to remove all items from your open shelves and put them through the dishwasher or give them a good hand-wash.
Remove and wash implements from storage pots and any hanging storage, too. Take cutlery out of the drawers and give yourself the opportunity to review all the items before cleaning and putting them away. If you no longer use some of the utensils, now’s a great time to find them a new home.
Style a spring vignette
While sorting out cupboards and reorganising shelves, you might come across a few items you’d forgotten you had (vases, candlesticks, mementos, photo frames etc). Why keep your favourites hidden away all year?
Create a display on a mantelpiece, hall table or coffee table that shows off some of these treasures. Your choices can be based on colour, for instance, or on materials, such as metals or wood. Get creative, enjoy styling your home and have fun by changing the look every month or so.
Simplify your fireplace
When you’ve enjoyed the last open fire of winter, call in the chimney sweep, then give the grate a good blacking with a wax-based graphite polish.
Now’s the time for a service, too, if it’s needed. Check for any broken tiles or cracks in the fire cement and arrange for repairs as necessary.
Decide whether to leave the grate bare or to dress it. To style it beautifully, try piling in some pine cones, group a collection of candles together, hang a string of fairy lights, or find a good-sized vase and fill it with fresh flowers.
Reorganise your coats
It’s time to remove all the heavy coats, hats, scarves and umbrellas from your coat hooks. Actually, maybe hold on to the brollies – we all know what British weather can throw at us!
Wash or dry clean your extra fleecy items and put them away for the summer. Bring out your lightweight jackets and give them an airing when the sun shines. Children in the house? Be prepared to see how much they’ve grown. Now’s also the time to check for any loose buttons, rips or stains you can fix on their summer outdoor wear.
Clean your windows
When the weather is warm enough to open the windows fully, it’s time to clean the glass and get into the corners. Vinegar for glass cleaning is a long-time favourite – dilute an eggcupful in a bowl of warm water, then wash your windows and dry with a microfibre cloth.
Though gorgeous, shutters and slatted blinds are dust traps, so this is the time to give them a wipe over as well. Use a hand-held steamer to lift stubborn dirt before wiping them with a cloth. There’s no quick way of cleaning slats – just be patient and work left to right, top to bottom (if you’re right-handed).
Air the linen cupboard
Every now and then it’s worth hauling out the linen and reminding yourself what you’ve got stacked at the back of the cupboard. Did you keep your gran’s old sheets? Are there creases in some of the linens that have never seen the light of day?
Wipe out the shelves and pop in some scented paper liners. Launder your linen if it’s become dusty and refresh with a lavender spritz. Once completely dry, replace in the cupboard.
Think creatively about how you might repurpose some of the linens you haven’t used all year. Get sewing, and make up a new item from some of the old ones. One very handy use for old pillowcases is to reinvent them as fabric dust bags for your handbags and freshly cleaned shoes.