There’s no quicker way to show winter and its grey, gloomy face the door and get them out of your life than by adding a shot of color to your rooms. It’s easy and doesn’t take a boatload of banker’s green, according to designer Holly Rebensdorf of Interiors.

“I always change out florals and candles seasonally,” she says. “These accents are usually conspicuously placed on a coffee table or side table so a change in these is very effective.”

If you’re feeling more ambitious, she suggests a trip down the paint chip aisle.

“Your paint already revolves around the existing upholstery fabrics, so choose a color chip up or down on the current paint card. By doing this you are adding intensity or softness to the room,” she says.

And if your seating is mostly neutral, the easiest update is to switch out the accent pillows or replace a neutral chair with a crisp apple green addition.

“The color will work with almost all floral fabrics, and it adds a little spot of color to a room without overwhelming you,” Rebensdorf says.

Greens are very strong now. The soft greens pair up well with apricots for a fresh look, and the combination can transition into a cozier feeling in the fall by adding more intense rust colors to the room

“The spa blue shades are still everywhere,” she says. “They have such a restful quality when used with sand shades.

The secret to neutral decorating is not to go bland. “Start with a distinct color, but not one that ‘commits’ you to any group,” Rebensdorf says. “A rich sand or gold/yellow shade is a good start for walls or sofa — your larger areas. Then add color in accent chairs and accessories.”


More tips on jump-starting spring

If painting scares you, paint just one wall to change the focal point of a room by picking a bold, contrasting color from a print fabric in the room.

Plants add color, from fresh greens and yellows to dark reds, even oranges. Ask your nursery or home center which ones require minimal care if you don’t have a green thumb.

Lamps get a new lease on life with shade substitutions or the addition of fringe, ribbon or beaded trim. Replacing an off-white shade with a pattern or a bright color shade can change a room. Or turn a favorite urn or knick-knack into a lamp by having electrical components installed at a lamp shop.

Accent tables are showing up in bright colors like royal blue and poppy red — perfect small ways to punch up a room.

Area rugs under a coffee table or chair table can add color chosen from a fabric in the upholstery.

Give artwork a facelift with new matting, or paint mirror frames an accent color.

Make bookshelves part of the décor by painting the inside backs a contrasting color. Or move books around to incorporate vases, collectibles, even small pillows or frames painted in one accent color.

Throws in bright accent colors can work with pillows to completely change a sofa, bed or room color scheme.

Add flowers. They’re fresh, beautiful and full of vibrant colors.

Painting one wall might be all a room needs. This black Chatham poster bed from Bassett Furniture with elegant white linens is brought to life against a pumpkin wall. www.bassettfurniture.com 

The Alex chair by Arhaus, inspired by 1920s Paris, gets a modern update in tomato red or avocado green aniline-dyed leathers. www.arhaus.com.

Bold floral embroidered pillow cover. www.potterybarn.com.


What Colors Say

Three Colors To Watch

Turquoise, Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2010, PMS 15-5519, is described as “luminous,” with warm and cool undertones. Pair it with neutrals and browns, reds and pinks, yellow-green or deep blues to evoke a maritime feel.

Icy Blue is ICI Paints’ pick for 2010. The company that includes Ralph Lauren, UltraHide and Dulux brands describes Icy Blue as “airy, optimistic and symbolizing new beginnings.” It’s connected with feelings of refreshing, soothing and peaceful calm.

Mardi Grape is the choice by CMG, Color Marketing Group. This purple is browner, grayer, and being treated as more of a neutral shade.

A shot of red is an easy way to liven up a room. This cabinet from Hammary would brighten a foyer or family room in a snap. www.hammary.com.


A Finishing Touch

The finish is all about the “shininess” of the color you’ve chosen.


Maximizing River Views

Open floor plans give an airy, relaxed feel to living spaces. But at Corbin Park on Riverside Drive, East End, they serve an additional purpose – maximizing the views of the Ohio River.

“We mainly designed the floor plans so the views can be seen from every space,” says Mark Kalb of Revolution Properties. Because of the open floor plan, each level (at about 1,100 square feet and accessible by elevator) can be configured to fit the owner’s lifestyle, with the ground floor devoted to the garage, the second to living areas and the third to bedrooms, leaving the fourth to be customized.


Coordinate Counter, Backsplash, Flooring

To create a knockout kitchen, coordinate the big three: countertop, backsplash, flooring, says Shea Conly of Loveland, owner of Inside Out Design Build Professionals, which tackles design-build home projects from patios and fire pits to kitchen and bath renovations.

“For example, a creamy tiled floor should be paired with a counter surface that echoes similar creamy tones. A tiled backsplash using a few of the same soft tones with dramatic darker accents can then be added,” he says.

Adding a granite sink solves the pesky stainless steel maintenance problem, too. “It’s easy to clean, doesn’t scratch, spot or ding like stainless steel and will stand up to banging pots and hot pans. There’s less worry about maintenance.”


It’s All About the View

What good is a knock-out river or wooded view if a railing gets in the way?

“People want railing systems that don’t block the view,” leading to new materials and approaches to safety, says Gary Bruckert of One80 Design in Golf Manor. Bruckert chose a rail of powder-coated square stock tubing with galvanized steel mesh panels for a client who wanted to preserve the home’s wooded view yet keep their three little ones safe and sound. New materials allow for smaller newel posts and less structural material and are actually stronger than a wood railing, he says.


Floor Plans for the Active

Club rooms, spas, cafes, health and fitness centers. “The trend is for more lifestyle amenities, more activities as far as health and fitness go,” says Janice Hare, retirement counselor at Maple Knoll Village on Springfield Pike. “This is a generation that’s very, very active and taking care of their health.”

To make sure Maple Knoll is keyed in to more active seniors, a study was done on amenities they look for when sizing up an adult lifestyle community.

The result was Kensington Place, 56 deluxe one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments completed in April 2009 with airy open floor plans, 10-foot ceilings, bigger windows bringing in more light, fully-equipped kitchens, balconies and proximity to the community’s amenities.