|Retro Perspective; Keeping House Through the Season|
|Written by Ami Thomas|
Last month we talked about our seasonal wardrobes—this month we'll talk about "dressing" the house for the seasons. There are fabrics for the interior that are more appropriate to seasons, just as with clothing.
You probably don't want heavy, velvet drapes hanging in the front window in the Spring time, just as you probably wouldn't wear a heavy velvet dress in May. Geography and climate do figure into decorating, though, so we'll explore that, too, along with some seasonal housekeeping tips and tricks that may be long forgotten.
My grandmother had living room curtains for every season—light sheers for Spring and Summer, muslin for Fall and velvet for Winter. The slipcovers were changed with the curtains, and so were the throw rugs and cushions. Her house had a big furnace vent in the hallway, and it was covered with a big rug when the furnace wasn’t being used.
The beds were made lightly in the warm months, with just a fitted sheet, a top sheet and a chenille bedspread. As it got cooler, Grandma added a blanket under the bedspread, but when Winter blew in full blast, the chenille was put away for a heavier quilt, similar to the comforters so popular now.
This is how my mom always made beds, too, and does to this day. I am proud to carry on this tradition and there is something comforting about making the bed like Grandma, especially if you have any of her blankets or bedspreads.
The kitchen was kept much the same, but heavier curtains were hung in Winter and the window air conditioner got a plastic cover to keep out the cold. My Grandma didn't use different dishes for different times of year, but some of her friends did. For as long as I knew her, she only used one set of dishes.
As a collector of dishes and other kitchenware, I have enough to change with the seasons now. I only use the pink in Summer, because pink is a Summer color. We use the white dishes all year, and the platters with the Fall leaves are reserved for the big Sunday dinners in October. Since my kitchen colors are somewhat "summery" to me, shades of turquoise and red, I use deeper tones in colder weather, but still strictly within my color palette.
Vintage tablecloths are a fantastic way to celebrate the change in seasons, without drastically redecorating the whole room. I've been able to find some great deals at thrift stores on these, but rarely on eBay lately. There were a few articles in decorating magazines about them being "highly collectible" and they are now highly priced. Those not in great condition can be trimmed and hemmed and used for napkins, placemats, table runners or chair cushions.
Changing of seasons is also a good time for those more cumbersome household chores that we don't like to do too often. Turning the mattresses, washing the windows and walls, scrubbing the baseboards, and cleaning the blinds (soak them in the bathtub, in bleach water) keep the house clean and healthy.
All of these I do 3 or 4 times a year, and find that more than adequate. If you have those modern conveniences, like smoke alarms or water filtration systems, this is a good time to change batteries and filters.
About twice a year, my husband and son take a bottle of ammonia and the garden hose and wash out the big, outside trash cans. They also scrub the patio, front porch and sidewalks. Cleaning out the shed, if you have one, can also be done at Spring and Fall, after all yard work is done and patio furniture is ready to be stored for the Winter. If you live in a climate of only one season, you can still use the calendar to keep you on track to clear out clutter and wash down the outside things.
If there's no Fall or Winter where you are, you can keep your light curtains and bedclothes in use the year round, but reflect the time of year with color or other seasonal decorative items. My Aunt in Florida never changes the weight of her bedspreads, but she does have darker ones for Fall and Winter and always goes all out for Christmas decorating. Even though snow is a rarity, she will wash down and pack up the patio furniture and even cover the pool around Thanksgiving.
When the snow hits, I always put darker rugs by the outside doors and at the hearth, to catch the dirt coming in with snow boots. In barefoot season, we mostly leave our shoes at the door and the lighter rugs are sufficient to catch what little dust comes in with us.
There is also a blue basket by the door for the season's necessities, be it beach towels and sunscreen or hats and gloves and scarves. Keeping these items neatly and attractively stored, they add to the décor when they're all lovely vintage items that match the room's color scheme.
Common sense and comfort are the things to keep in mind. When it's cold, you want to be warm, so use fabrics and colors that are cozy, and when it's hot, use light and breezy fabrics that don't hold the heat and will let the light in a little.
In the summer, instead of making the bed right away when you get up, turn the covers back to the foot and let the bed air out a bit. In the colder months, sneak a hot water bottle in before you turn in for the night and warm things up some, especially the foot of the bed.
Cooking on the barbecue will keep the house cool when it's hot, and cooking slowly all day in the winter makes the house smell wonderful and warm. Using the fireplace for warmth as well as atmosphere will help with the heating bills and add a romantic touch to every night at home.
Most of our Grandma's were keeping house with our parents as little kids during World War II, and there were very real consequences to waste of any kind in those days. When necessities were rationed, and there was no indication of the end of the War, everything was done for a reason. Rotating slipcovers kept them from wearing out, heavy drapes kept out drafts and throw rugs provided some insulation. Bearing all this mind during our times of plenty will certainly help us keep things in perspective. Retro perspective.