Two designers give advice on how to decorate for the seasons


Special to The Miami Herald

We don’t experience changing leaf color in the fall or snow in the winter, but we can redecorate the inside of our homes to reflect the seasons. September is prime time for a makeover.

Two South Florida design experts agreed to create summer vs. winter makeovers to give you ideas on how to change inside even if outside is still hot and humid.

Martin Amado is host and designer of the “Room for Improvement” segment on WSVN-Ch 7 News. His work can be seen on general market and Hispanic TV shows including Decorando Contigo (Decorating with You) on Galavision, Univision, Utilisima, HGTV and HSN. He specializes in inexpensive and creative ways to perk up the décor.

Frances Herrera is a New York designer who recently moved to South Florida. Besides typical design services, she offers Dayzine, a one-day makeover that allows clients to work with their existing furniture. After consultation with the client, the room is refreshed with wall art, rugs, window treatments, pillows, lamps and accessories. The final makeover takes only 4 to 6 hours, but the project can take up to two to four weeks. The time frame depends on whether reupholstering or special ordering is needed. Herrera has appeared on Open House and George to the Rescue on NBC and LXTV’s On the White Carpet.


“I’m a big fan of refreshing spaces,” Amado said as he fluffed pillows in the bedroom makeover. “It gives a new outlook and you are not spending a lot of money switching out accessories.”

Bedroom: The bed is the focal point and the place to make the biggest statement.

His fall/winter look features warm colors in jewel and spice tones that evoke a cozy feeling. Although he used a comforter set with matching shams, he broke up the pattern with solid color shams and a quilt across the bottom of the bed. “The quilting gives softness and texture,” he said. “It makes you feel like you are wrapped up in a blanket.” Dark side panels match the bedding.

For summer and spring, Amado used the serenity of beach colors — blues, taupes and sand. He emphasized that not everything needs to match perfectly. His mix featured smaller blue and white stripes contrasting with large taupe and white cabana stripes. Instead of a heavy comforter, he suggested using a lightweight quilt and adding a throw at the bottom of the bed. He changed the side panels to light linen.

Living room: Often, if the sofa and chairs in a living room are dark brown leather, it can look too heavy in our climate. The secret is the right accessories.

For fall and winter, he used a brown and off-white zebra print area rug. He added an espresso colored wooden coffee table accessorized with a wicker tray to break up the darkness. Three pillows in fall tones finish the sofa. Everything doesn’t have to be symmetrical. In this case, he bunched three pillows together.

The summer/spring makeover lightens the look and defines the space with an off-white, low-pile shag rug. He switched the lamp to one with a white base and yellow shade. Two wicker trunks, which double as storage, give the room a more relaxed vibe. He added colorful pillows and a throw to break up the dark leather.

“The trunks may be something you recycle from another room,” he said. “It’s no-cost decorating.”

Dining room: A few elements are important here — color, texture and scale.

The fall/winter table features a runner of earthy river stones, a woven bowl and a vase filled with dried branches as a centerpiece.

A trio of hurricane lamps dominates the spring/summer table. To add interest, he put small white stones in the bottom so he could nestle large white pillar candles. The table runner, cream with an orange pattern, adds another punch of color.


“Here in South Florida there isn’t much changing of the seasons,” Herrera said. “Your home has to embrace you and capture your personality. As human beings we evolve … We get tired of the same art, the same rug. Whenever you feel your home doesn’t have the same energy, it is time to change it.”

Herrera sees September as the perfect time to give your home a new look. She said at this time of year we are already in the spirit of change with anticipation of the holidays starting with Halloween. Colors and texture are the keys to transition.

This also could be the time to update a family wall with photographs that were taken during the summer and add accessories you purchased during summer vacation. She suggested blowing the images up to 8 x 10 or 11 x1 4 to make a stronger statement. Make sure the frames match and complement your design style such as a simple profile for a contemporary home.

Herrera and her design manager, Kelly Lackner, created the fall/winter look. They started with a basic linen sofa, jute area rug and cowhide ottoman.

“In the fall, everything gets richer,” Herrera said. “We repeat the heaviness in texture. We are in Florida so we can’t bring in a faux fur throw and we don’t want to do too much of a fall look.”

The throw pillows, in rich harvest colors and varying textures, echo those in the Andy Warhol signed and numbered print of Marilyn Monroe. Additional texture comes from a faux crocodile tray. Bright yellow sunflowers add a punch of color to the neutral tones on the ottoman. A lamp and candle are added for additional coziness.

For spring and summer, Herrera says the goal is to keep the design refreshing, vibrant and colorful. Her seaside makeover featured marine blues that reference the coastal water and tropical climate. On the coffee table an aquamarine box reflects the color of the pillows, a coral sculpture evokes the sea, and the flowers are white lilies. Palm fronds add a tropical touch on the end table. The Warhol was replaced with a modern art painting of the same size.


Pottery Barn’s catalog is a good source for inspiration because of the ways the company’s designers style the rooms for each season.

“Use nature and the changing seasons for décor inspiration,” Kendra Stewart, Pottery Barn’s public relations manager, said via email. “Even if you live in an area with mild climate differences, look to traditional seasonal color palettes for simple ways to bring the beauty of the season into your home décor.”

Stewart suggested changing pillow covers as one of the easiest and quickest ways to transform a space to match the season. (Pottery Barn’s and West Elm’s pillow inserts are standard sizes to make this transformation easy.) For fall, look for covers in ivory, mustard yellow, rich browns and dark reds. Seasonal floral arrangements can highlight the season’s colors by grouping real or faux botanicals in earthy tones in various shape and size vases.

Another easy way to change the seasonal look is through slipcovers. Sure Fit makes them for dining room chairs and sofas in a variety of styles, fabric choices and colors. They are sold at Wal-Mart, JC Penney and Target.

Herrera and Amado suggested these other sources for quick makeover accessories: Marshall’s, HomeGoods, Z Gallerie and West Elm.

Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub can be reached at

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