Spring Fling: How to shake off those winter blues

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

If you’re looking to spruce up your home for spring, there’s no need to spend a fortune. Whether you want to refresh your decor, put your house on the market or do a little entertaining, we’ve got you covered with budget-friendly tips from local experts who share their favorite places to get the goods.

Carolyn R. Hefner, event planner and owner of the China Closet in Birmingham, shops dollar stores, T.J. Maxx and Home Goods for seasonal pieces and more along with estate sales. “I have always loved antiques, especially dishware from days gone by, and love using them to give away when delivering cookies or a pie to friends,” she says.

For vintage dishes, Hefner turns to One King’s Lane ( She also looks for sales at places like Pier 1 Imports, Joss and Main and Bed Bath and Beyond.

Sometimes we already have what we need for a great tablescape. “When entertaining, we often overlook what’s right under our noses,” says Hefner. For instance, when pending snowstorms were headed our way, she envisioned a centerpiece featuring a few pieces of firewood and some glass cylinder vases from the basement filled with water and floating candles. “It would be like having a cozy fire right in the middle of dinner service,” she says.

In honor of spring, she might add some primroses and moss. “Check the cupboards, the yard for branches and the potting shed for calcified clay pots,” says Hefner. “I bet there is a tablescape just waiting to be created.”

When hosting, she says it’s never about how much you spend, but how you put the pieces together. “Mixing pieces is my favorite way to make a table look amazing and interesting,” says Hefner. “I love the mix of old and new, smooth textures with rough textures, beautiful china with burlap, clay pots and crystal candlesticks.”

For overnight visitors, luxurious touches can be done on a budget, like a freshly laundered robe and a pair of slippers attached with ribbon. Add some coffee table books, a box of toiletries, some soft music and a special stash of chocolate in that little dish you found at an estate sale to make your guests feel welcome, says Hefner.

Best foot forward

Krista Price, owner of Krista Price Designs in Lake Orion, offers home staging and design services. She likes to pair budget-friendly finds with a few anchor pieces. Clearance and return items (often found on endcaps) offer a great way to get deeper discounts on home decor. In addition, Goodwill stores often receive returns and salvage items from places like Target and Kohl’s.

Price also signs up for those pesky emails for coupons and sales from places like and World Market where she saves on dining tables for staging.

Her go-to source for towels and bedding is Target for their selection and their online sales. For furniture, accents, wall art and curtains, she likes Home Goods. “Their inventory changes weekly and often comes from higher-end retailers, which provides opportunities to find unique and stylish items,” says Price. The discount store also lets you earn points with their credit card to save on future purchases.

For lighting, she likes “Houzz is typically less expensive than big-box stores and there are far more choices and stylish options,” she says.

When putting your home on the market, it’s hard to be objective. “Often we stop seeing what others see when they view our rooms,” says Price. It helps to set the stage for a “lifestyle” that potential homebuyers hope to achieve so they can they picture themselves sitting by your cozy fireplace or enjoying coffee on your deck.

With staging, the “art of distraction” works like a charm. So, instead of a major kitchen remodel, you can replace your cabinet hardware ( to update the look without the cost of painting or replacement. Layered wood cutting boards from Home Goods propped along the back of your countertops add warmth, while tea towels from World Market or Etsy ( provide a punch of color.

At the very least, you’ll want to pare down your belongings and update the look of your home by removing excess bedroom furniture, replacing dated light fixtures, painting a “tired” fireplace or creating a cute outdoor space, says Price. If you’re not sure where to begin, many home stagers like her offer consultations, which cost less than staging an entire home.

Luckily, most people already have items that can be transformed for other purposes, she says, like an old dresser that can be painted to be reworked as a buffet or a tall (but sturdy) bookshelf turned sideways to serve as a bench for your entry. Coat hooks can be repurposed near your door to hang shoes, while a curtain panel becomes seat covers for your dining chairs and a room divider serves as a headboard.

Practical makes perfect

Garage sales can yield cheap finds, says Tracey Garcia, owner of TG Designs in Farmington Hills. “Even if it’s just something little, it might be worth more than what you paid for it,” she says.

She also likes local auctions and estate sales for bargains. “You can find awesome deals at auctions if people aren’t bidding on what you are,” says Garcia who suggests checking online sources like and to preview items in advance.

For vintage lighting and furniture, try Odd Fellows Antiques in Berkley, says Garcia who scours flea markets and antiques stores for cool glassware and accent tables and chairs. She also likes secondhand shops, such as ReSale Connection in Rochester and Right Moves Consignment and Estate Sales in Berkley.

Costco can be a good place for furniture, rugs, towels and plants while Home Goods is a great source for affordable planters. For trendy accessories, Garcia shops and for lamps she likes CB2 ( carries more contemporary pieces like fun little mirrors and ledges and shelves and IKEA is great for budget-friendly picture frames.

Affordable art can be found at where the artist’s prints come in different sizes and framed or unframed. In addition to handmade wares, Etsy features vintage finds and industrial light fixtures.

For collectibles, Garcia likes local sources like Yesterday’s Antiques in Livonia. “When you shop antiques stores and garage sales, you know that everyone doesn’t have the same thing,” she says. “Even if you mix reasonable finds with more expensive pieces, you have that high/low look that’s more interesting.”

This lets you get a feel for new styles without breaking the bank. “It’s a good way to stay fresh in your house and have it look fun and trendy. If you mix something you have from five years ago with something fresh, you get a unique look without spending a fortune,” she says.

These updates help to prevent our homes from getting stuck in a time warp. “When you find a deal, you can get a fresh feel with a couple of new pillows that make your space look more interesting when everything isn’t dated and the pieces that you kept are there because you like them,” says Garcia.

Jeanine Matlow writes the Smart Solutions column in Homestyle. You can reach her at