Mar 012017


Monica Hagen - Home

Springtime and the livin’ is easy!

Well, maybe not, but you can liven up your life and living space with seasonal brights, courtesy of Mother Nature.  Nature’s art is one of the best ways to add new energy and keep within a budget.

BromeliadMy favorite artistic addition to my home is potted flowering plants.  I choose bright magenta, vibrant yellow, or a nice collection of purples and pinks. Cyclamen are one of my favorites with their pure jewel tones.  After they bloom, I plant them in my garden.

If you still have cold weather and can’t move plants outdoors yet, stick to cut flowers.  Nothing is better than a bouquet of multi-colored sweet peas.  Choose bright and bold.  I love a riot of colors mixed with greens (something you may not have seen outside for a while).  Feathery ferns give soft lines and rich greens, but beware if you have allergies, some of these can trigger attacks.

Tall vases give drama, fluted tops allow for arrangements to flow naturally into an umbrella shape.  I like tall cut flowers in the center and dramatic flowers like lilies (which also have a strong scent, make sure you like the smell before you purchase them).

You will find flowers popping up all around you in retail flower shops, garden stores, even discount markets.  Beware of age; older flowers or ones that have been refrigerated for a while will not last as long as fresher blooms.  Some varieties look good longer, while other flowers have short lives as cut specimens.

Your best bet is to visit a local florist, tell them what you are looking for, and ask for something that lasts a week or more.  Florists will often guarantee their flowers and if they die quickly, they may offer a replacement.  Ask before buying.

Don’t overlook easy-care ivy, which is much better indoors than out where it can easily take over your yard.  Cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) needs little care and light.  Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is a viney, vigorous grower that tolerates erratic watering and even poor soil. Pothos are highly regarded as good for cleaning the air in your home.

Watch all plants around pets.  My cat tried to snack on my pothos and always threw up soon afterward.  They do cause poisonous reactions in dogs and cats, so keep them up out of reach, and trim vines before they dangle low enough for snacking.

colorful flowersGeraniums (some with heavenly scents) are easy care, but they like full sun, so they only visit me indoors. The same goes with potted baby roses.  Pick a gorgeous flowering plant and after several weeks, transplant it outside.

I also like to cultivate sweet basil in my kitchen.  I purchase organic plants at the grocery store and then snip leaves as needed for Italian food, soups and salads.  Their cheerful green leaves brighten the kitchen.

For coordinating art, find stencils that match your favorite leaves and blooms.  Real ivy can trail down the wall or soft, mossy green ivy can be stenciled above a window, arched doorway, or to fill a kitchen corner.  Use multiple shades of green to create a 3-D effect, perhaps even layer with a little white for highlights (shiny spots on the leaves).

For flowering plants, mirror the colors using various shades close to the target color (maybe red and magenta or yellow and orange).  You can stencil right on the wall, window glass, or even onto a canvas or paper you hang on the wall.

For more formal art, make nature-inspired designs on standard-sized paper, such as 8 x 10 inches or 11 x 14.  Buy a white mat for that size opening (the outside of the mat will be larger) and a glass-covered frame to match.

Once every month or two, open up the frame and change out the art.  Use acid-free tape to fasten the art onto the mat, then slip the mat back inside the frame. (Acids in tape adhesive will eat through paper over time.)

Spring is also a great time to spruce up the house with inexpensive items like lightweight Chinese paper lanterns.  You might even find them on sale since Chinese New Year passed over a month ago.  Hang lanterns from the ceiling or out on the patio (on dry days, of course, or dyes will run and ruin the patio as well as the lanterns).

Sky blue, white, and green look fabulous together!  I love using tiny white light strings to dress up the lanterns or any dark corner.  I recently purchased white paper lanterns from Pier One Imports that include battery-powered lights inside.

Mingle white lights with your pothos, or string them up in your ficus tree (use only outdoor lights for outside to avoid shock and fire).

Pretty rocks can bring another natural dimension to your springtime.  Buy inexpensive tumbled stones at a rock shop or discount store, and pile them on a plate or in a bowl.  You can also place them in the bottom of a clear glass tumbler or bowl and fill it with water (test to make sure the rocks are waterproof, as some stones are dyed and the color will run).

Also, keep pets away from water bowls with rocks in them as some stones are poisonous.  Watch stones around kids too.

I’m a sucker for pretty candles; they go so well with plants and flowers and brighten any room.  Make sure you supervise and stay in the room with lit candles.  I also like the flickering fakes (battery-powered candles), for their safety lowers my stress level, and they still add character to a space.  Try them placed inside different-colored glass holders.

However you choose to brighten your home in springtime, go for a little extra color, and your mood will lift.  Summer’s just a heartbeat away!

Tip of the Month: Keep your eye out for good deals on pots of bright springtime flowers in your local retail shops.  When they buy in quantity, you save!  Go for two or three colors close to each other on the color wheel, like red and magenta or orange and yellow.

Monica Hagen loves her life as a writer, artist, teacher and registered stock broker.  She loves to share thoughts and images that inspire, guide and heal.  Find her book, “Fit, Fueled and 50,” on  ContactLinkedInBooks