Spring's also when we start to see the decor trends that will find their way home both figuratively and literally through summer and fall.
For 2015, these trends include a firm embrace of midcentury modern; emerging Art Deco; strong textures; organic modern (a blend of rustic and contemporary); and a colour palette centred on sophisticated pastels.
Motifs from the Far East, Morocco and India remain strong, but now there are more Greek and South American elements, including Hellenic patterns, blues paired with crisp whites, native motifs, and colorful, woven textiles and baskets.
Ikat and chevron, workhorse prints for the past few years, are being edged aside by medallion and tile patterns, bold preppy stripes, and new twists on damask, geometrics, colour block and watercolour prints. Kate Spade has collaborated on a new collection with West Elm, for instance, that includes chairs and bedding in fun, sophisticated graphics, florals and spatter prints.
The other news is that designers are mixing things up, so an antique Bentwood chair can be paired with a glossy red desk, for instance, or a rustic flat-weave rug can sit in front of a 19th century marble mantel, or a farmhouse table can be placed under an ornate glass chandelier.
"Design pros have always known it's the combination of finishes that give a room style — it takes the sleek with the matte; textured with flat; and a mix of painted, wood, ceramic and metallic finishes for a room to look 'done,'" says Elaine Griffin, a New York-based designer.
Now, thanks to home-design TV shows and social media, we're all becoming more knowledgeable decorators.
Mass-market retailers are not only offering more products that straddle styles, they're doing a better job of showing us how to use them. In-store displays and free design advice help shoppers envision how pieces can work at home.
"We've become semi-pros at DIY décor," says Griffin.
Feeling confident and inspired? Let's look at some of what spring's got in store.
Griffin sees midcentury modern becoming even more entrenched in the décor landscape. The pieces are comfier than the originals because of modern construction methods and materials.
"The new shapes are the love children between midcentury modern's twigginess and the traditional overstuffed look. They're so fresh-looking that they're irresistible," she says.
West Elm's Peggy collection of trim, tailored sofas and loveseats feature nubby cayenne or pebble-grey upholstery tucked under slim, pecan-stained legs. The Crosby collection puts a tufted cushion on a trimmed-down wingback that's especially smart in armchair and sectional versions.
Urban Outfitters' Sterling sofa and Dagmar chair fit the vibe, as does the Draper media cabinet, which resembles a retro hi-fi console.
Griffin says Art Deco will really start to emerge this year.
"We're seeing its first wave now in the new linear, jazz-inspired graphics and block prints," she says. "I'm predicting that we'll be seeing Deco-inspired furniture and accessories for fall 2015 and spring 2016, viewed through the sleek aperture of midcentury modern."
The sophisticated style's got legs in both traditional and contemporary décor, so there are lots of ways to incorporate it.
Ethan Allen has the Shelton sofa with high, curvy arms, the Atwood chair with two swooping sides, and a chic little nickel-plated side table. Urban Outfitters has a vintage-style velvet chaise and fainting couch available in of-the-moment hues.
Colour AND TEXTURE
A heady blend of plum, wine and burgundy, Marsala is Pantone's colour of the year, and while it's likely to be more prevalent come autumn, you can jump on the trend now by adding dashes of the hue.
Overstock's Presley throw pillow comes in a striking deep-red-and-white houndstooth print. The Calantha wall mirror features a lacquered frame carved in a floral design. And Safavieh's Palmer ottoman pairs cream-and-red, windowpane-printed cotton with nickel rivets for a versatile little bench.
Look for colour used in dramatic ways: a navy lacquered cabinet (at CB2), or a glossy burgundy vanity (Hastings Tile & Bath's Made collection). Black is back, in a sexy bowfront chest at Wisteria, on walls (Noir is Pratt & Lambert's colour of the year) and in Pottery Barn's new Stinson bedroom furniture with curly, barley-twist details. Griffin predicts that kitchens with a lot of black — mixed with lighter woods or white — will be hot this year.
Sophisticated pastels — what Griffin calls the "Jordan almond' hues — grace textiles, case goods and even lamps, with mint green and blush pink being the dominant colours. Wisteria has a collection of sleek, contemporary, sea-foam green acrylic desks and tables with a waterfall edge.
Textured linens, silks and cottons in tone-on-tone or colorful embroidered prints, embossed fabrics, leathers, and luxe velvets will grace drapery, upholstery and rugs.
We were introduced to warm metallics last year; this year, we'll get to know them better. Lighting and accessories are being rendered in brass, copper and rose gold.
At the modern end of the spectrum, powder-coated metal is showing up in pastels and bright colours, in fun wire lounge chairs at Land of Nod, file cabinets at CB2 and steel baskets with birch handles at Ikea.
Bernhardt's new collection includes a brass-clad dresser and several gold or silver side tables and benches — elegant jewelry for a room.
Nate Berkus' new collection for Target features geometric metallic motifs on pillows and an interesting piece of wall art. Faceted lamps and bath accessories come in white and brushed gold.
"I gravitate toward pieces that feel architectural," Berkus says. He mixed "beachy touches" of colour for a vibe he considers "'70s modernism."
Pierced metal lampshades could only be found at high-design ateliers a year ago, but now Ikea's Nymo collection comes in black or white with copper interiors.
Lighter woods reflect both midcentury and farmhouse modern esthetics; look for light oak and pine, maple, walnut, acorn and beech.