Outside, signs of winter thawing into spring are popping up with the sights of budding trees, smells of freshly cut grass, and sounds of chirping robins. Inside, residents too are thawing from the harsh winter and looking for ways to lighten up their domiciles.

“Winter is gone and it has left the building,” said Kristi Hugunin, owner of Paper Dolls Home Furnishings and Interior Designs, 138 E. Geneva Square, Lake Geneva. She was referring to her store, but she added that, “people change with the seasons,” and are looking for ways to spruce up their homes. Some of the colors she’s seeing in this spring’s palate are navy, whites, spa blue, blush, and creams; with red as an accent color.

Karin Bennett, owner of Cornerstone Shop and Gallery, 214 Broad St., Lake Geneva, says corals, aqua blues, and “yellow-slash-gold, not gold metallic, but sunshine yellow,” are the colors we’ll see this spring, as well as botanicals and greens. “It’s bringing us back to how important outdoors and nature are. There is a heightened awareness of the earth and environment,” said Bennett, who just returned from a buying show in High Point, N.C. Reclaimed wood products are in. “Re-use, recycle, repurpose,” she said.

“The thing that’s interesting in spring is people get more active,” said Philip Sassano from The Design Coach, LLC, 300 West Front Street, Harvard, Ill. “As you get more active, you hibernate less — it’s difficult to go shopping in the cold. It’s a natural ebb of the season. It’s a time for rebirth. It’s time to rediscover outside. We energize our living spaces after a long winter, especially after this one.”

“People just went through a lot of winter,” Bennett added. “They want to get their homes ready for the summer because they want to be outside enjoying the summertime. They’re just itching to change something.”

Hugunin said the rooms that get the spring facelifts are usually the main living areas, such as the living room. “Keep your main pieces,” she said, referring to large furniture, which she added that neutral tones make the updates simpler. “You can add different looks with pillows, rugs, and lamps.”

Bennett said spring transitions can be done without spending too much money. “It’s pretty easy to do with some wall art. You can find some beautiful artwork very inexpensively. That’s an easy, easy thing to do.” She added, “Pillows, shelves, placemats are a good way to add a little pop of something different. Add a little centerpiece, a rug.” She also said painting just one wall could change the look of your living space.

Sassano, who also hosts The Design Coach on 96.1, The Lake, conceded that people can update their homes with soft goods, such as pillows and rugs, but he thinks spring directs our attention outside, especially to the garage. “Garages are a huge one. Everything compiles over the winter. They store their outdoor toys,” he said, but said that, “no room is off limits.” There are other trends that, “Spring brings to the forefront,” added Sassano, and those pertain to the outside. “If there is something unique to spring, they’re looking for exterior combination seating and eating. Exterior kitchens are definitely hot.”

Is gray out like some of the design magazines are saying? Hugunin laughs. No, it’s popular because, “it goes with everything,” she said, adding that many people changed their flooring into gray tones and they wouldn’t have done that if they felt it was a passing fad. “I never fall for those magazines.”

“I’m not a huge trend guy,” Sassano said. “Interiors should be about displaying your passions. We never design spaces to land the next client. We design spaces to impress the client we have.”

Both Bennett and Hugunin feel that the nautical designs will always popular in the Lake Geneva area.

Having a real person guide you can make the modifications easier, with each of these businesses offering design guidance for small or large projects.

“A lot of stores, like ours, are happy to do things,” Bennett said. She encourages people to bring in photos of their living spaces so they can get guidance from “real” people. She knows of some customers who had ordered items online only to be unhappy. “Obviously, we’re trying to be relevant and a thriving brick and mortar store, but we’re out kicking the tires making sure it’s a quality piece before we bring it in.”

All three designers concluded that there is something unique to spring and decorating. “It (spring decorating) feeds our spirit,” said Bennett. “Some people could care a less what the inside of their house looks like, but if it’s something that makes you happy, you should surround yourself with things that make you say, ‘this is my home.’”