You can add big impact in a small way with some simple design ideas that make sprucing up your home a treat, not a chore:
Front door: You know that tiny nail on your front door, the one that was long ago hammered there for the holiday wreath? Put that hardware to use for a welcoming container filled with new greenery, flowering bulbs or branches.
Ideally, you should choose a flat-sided glass vessel or envelope-shaped tin with a hook or loop for hanging. Then fill it with whatever inspires you from the garden.
For my front door, I turned a glass pocket terrarium into a vase and clipped a curly willow branch, several spring hellebore blooms and delicate snowdrops, all from my garden.
Centerpiece: Entertaining experts tell us the ideal arrangement is low and long so your guests can see one another across the table. For a spring brunch or holiday celebration, bring a fresh-green patch of lawn indoors -- it's just few inches tall.
Fill a shallow waterproof tray, such as the saucer for a plastic window box, with a piece of sod, cut to fit (sod is a type of pregrown lawn often sold in sections by home centers).
Sprinkle this mini lawn with a little water and the leafy-green grass blades will stay fresh for more than a week. An alternative to grass is sprouted wheat grass, often found in the produce department of a natural food store.
Arrange small flowers or potted plants to look as if they've just popped up from the lawn. No mowing required.
Kitchen counter: Herbs are nature's own air fresheners, lending savory, spicy or earthy fragrances to the air. Get that clean, fresh-from-the-garden scent with pots of herb plants or jars of clipped herbs.
Line up a row of 3 to 5 pots for an attractive and useful kitchen arrangement.
It's easy to snip sprigs of basil, parsley, chives, thyme, tarragon or mint as cooking ingredients or garnishes.
If you don't have room to grow herbs, shop at the farmers market and display bunches of the savory stems in juice glasses or jam jars. They should last for nearly a week if you keep the water fresh.
Mantel or hearth: Spring garden projects often include pruning. Instead of tossing those branches and stems into the compost bin, arrange them indoors for an elegant show.
I like to adorn the fireplace hearth with clusters of bare branches. For the mantel, keep the scale short; for the hearth, use a tall vase, basket or urn.
If you have pruned branches from a flowering cherry, apple, magnolia or plum tree, the warmth of your home might just trick them into blooming -- a delightful sight when you walk into the room.
Be sure to use sharp, clean pruners to cut the stems and keep the water in your container fresh.
Coffee table: It's still early in the season, so there may only be one or two blooms on a given plant. That's OK because you can try my one-of-everything decorating trick, and it's a fun way to involve kids.
Turn a set of six matching juice glasses, tumblers or stemware into vases. Fill each with water and arrange in a cluster on the coffee table or a tray. Then add just one thing from the outdoors to each glass.
It could be a leafy branch, a just-opening bud or a lovely bloom. If the flower has no stem, float it on the water's surface. This modest still-life arrangement is ever-changing, encouraging you to notice the singular beauty of springtime.
Debra Prinzing, a former Herald Home & Garden writer, is the author of "Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow and Farm."
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