There are those people who every April start to read the want ads, rearrange the furniture, ride up and down the street looking for "Open, For Sale" signs, call up architects, visit interior designers, haunt lumber yards, knock down walls, draw sketches of new wings, price swimming pools, measure to see if there's space for a tennis court - and in general act as if possessed of the nesting impulse.
Here are a few useful ideas to put the spring splurge to work:
Install real honest-to-goodness shutters that close on the exterior of your house's first-floor windows. Outside shutters are an ancient and workable way of protecting lower windows from summer sun, winter cold, snoopy passers-by, and the burglar.
If you have a second story, there are devices which allow shutters to be closed from inside the house. For large sliding glass areas on the ground level, think about barn doors. These are especially useful if you need to close the house securely when you're away on vacation. A new product on the U.S. market is the tambour exterior shutter, operated from inside. These tamper-proof, energy-saving shutters are common in Europe.
If exterior shutters won't work on your house, think about interior shutters instead of curtains. Wood shutters inside are not as good insulators as exterior ones, but they do insulate better than curtains. Some contemporary authorities, Emily Malino for one, think shutters are far more handsome than curtains, and they never have to vacation at the dry cleaners.
Now's the time to plant deciduous trees on the south side of your house to shade it in summer and to let the winter sun through. If you calculate it right, a small overhang on your south windows will keep the summer sun out and let the winter sun in. Vines or trellises will work to shield east and west windows as well. Sadly, none of these things will do much good for your air conditioning bill.
If you have well fitting, solid-core exterior doors, but yearn for light, try the architect Jerry Clark ploy: open it up by cutting a big hole in the middle, inserting two panes of glass and a wood strip batten in between. Use tempered glass or plexiglass for safety.
Those solid-core doors you remove to open up the house can be cut in half and used for cabinet doors. Tall paneled doors can be attached to the walls and called paneling. Or with a suitable base (glass blocks, Door Store legs, painted concrete blocks) discarded doors make handsome coffee tables, bar tops, dinning room sideboards, or, hung horizontally, the paneled type can make picture frames.
Hang it all: in the garage or the basement, hang the extra bridge chairs, the patio furniture, the bicycle, the yeard tools. If you live in your storage space, arrange the hanging objects, as the Shakers did, as collages, decorations. Think of the bicycle as a sculpture.
In place of an expensive garage, try aluminium poles and waterproof canvas. It won't last forever, but what does?
Look carefully at your Oriental rug or American Indian rug. It may be too good to walk on. At least for the summer, hang it as the work of art it may be.
Try the instant patio shade invented by architect George Hartman and Ann Hartmann, his interior designer wife: a brightly colored parachute from Sunny's Surplus, guyed between the trees.
In place of ubiquitous and expensive track lights, try Frank Lloyd Wright's old trick: ordinary porcelain light sockets hidden behind a properly sized wood strip baffle. Run it all around the room where wall and ceiling meet and call it cove lighting. A strip at the top of the window will give you night light from the same direction as day.
Use Mrs. John Sherman Cooper's favorite house lift: change the curtains, pillow covers and slipcovers in spring and fall for a change of scenery. Sure it costs twice as much, but everything last twice as long. Take up the rugs, send them out to be cleaned, and live with bare floors for the summer as our formothers did.
For those who hate itsy-bitsy window panes - make them go away by painting the mullions and muntins black.
Cover cardboard boxes with wallpaper or fabric scraps and use them to hold phonograph records or your winter clothes.
Buy spring-blooming bulbs for the house now, plant them in the garden when the bloom is over.
Circles of plywood, as large as forty-eight inches, can be bought at lumber shops. They make fine enlargers for card or garden tables when you have a big party. A hollow-core door and two sawhorses serve, with a file cabinet underneath, as a desk; without the drawer it's a dinning table.
G Street Remnant Shop remnants of expensive designer dress fabric can give your house a haute couture look cheaply: frame sections on canvas stretchers (art supply stores) as wall hangings, cover pillows, tablecloths, insets in paneled doors and a hostess gown to match. And have you ever considered upholstery fabric for dresses and caftans?
For extra summer visitors: buy slabs of foam rubber (three-by-seven is a standard size), add a zippered mattress cover and top with contour sheets. You don't really need box springs, bed frames and other such fripperies.
For a kitchen ceiling which never has to be repainted, use prefinished oak flooring.
To get your feet wet with solar heating, investigate solar swimming pool heat. A swimming pool painted or integrally colored black will fit into the landscape with the natural look of a pond and will absorb heat faster.
A quick, cheap way to make your house look cool, calm, collected and contemporary is to go through picking up all the extra ashtrays, figurines, antimacassars, sports trophies, picture of Aunt Susie, coffee table books, lamps that don't light, vases without flowers, clock that don't tell time, and put them all away. Or have a garage sale.
You know about hiding television and stereo sets in the mahogany wardrobe, but had you thought of a small kitchen instead? Not a bar, mind you, but a mini-kitchen with refrigerator, two burners (the Corning countertops come in such sizes) and perhaps even a small oven. Such a kitchen, with a bar-size sink, can be a great joy for workaday breakfasts and intimate suppers. Think of the possibilities for picnics in bed.
If you're adding a powder room, think of tiling the entire room, putting in a floor drain and making the whole room a non-enclosed shower. Added utility and no more space.
For a large picture window with no picture, just a busy street, consider sculptor Bert Schmutzhart's solution: a wooden screen carved with light holes, a modern version of the Indian carved-wood screen.
To cool your patio and mask street noises, add a recycling fountain.
If you hate fertilizing and mowing grass, make your whole townhouse backyard into a lily/fish pond with only a stone walk around it.
Or go stay in a hotel in Florida until the nesting surge is over.