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Summer Refresh: 11 Seasonal Updates for the Home

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Summer Refresh: 11 Seasonal Updates for the Home

April 25, 2018

After a winter cooped up indoors, every home deserves a refresh. Here are 11 easy summer updates from our archives and from our editors’ own houses.

1. Open your windows.

i&#8\2\17;m a big fan of the half curtain in the summertime. the tall grass 9
Above: I’m a big fan of the half curtain in the summertime. The tall grass outside provides a bit of extra privacy.

A summerhouse is all about maximizing the flow of light and air, so start by liberating your windows from any light-blocking curtains. Replace heavy fabrics with sheer panels in linen or muslin that will catch the breeze. Lightweight shades allow you to filter the midday sun while still making the most of gentle morning light—try bamboo to conjure a more tropical feel, or paper for a more Japanese touch. Interior shutters that fold completely away from the window are also a nice option. (See Light-Diffusing Shutters Made from Plexiglas.)

2. Pick some fresh flowers (in the form of floral prints).

erica tanov&#8\2\17;s lovebird table cloth is also available in a bedding  10
Above: Erica Tanov’s Lovebird Table Cloth is also available in a bedding set.
Whether direct from the garden or in the form of pretty floral prints, fresh flowers are a great way to introduce a bit of nature’s beauty to the home. A simple throw pillow on the sofa or a tablecloth are enough to conjure a seasonal feel. Browse Etsy or your local flea for inexpensive vintage sheets that can be used to add a bit of whimsy to the summer bed. Try adding a vintage floral print in the entry or the bath.

3. Paint your stairs.

charlotte tracy captured summer&#8\2\17;s playful air with painted nautical 11
Above: Charlotte Tracy captured summer’s playful air with painted nautical stripes on her stairs. See more at Before & After: A Summer Cottage Reborn on the Connecticut Coast.

At the turn of the 20th century, America’s wealthy would decamp from their formal winter estates and escape to breezy summer cottages, which were deliberately more casual and utilitarian. Easier to clean and cooler underfoot, the painted stairs capture summer’s laid-back feel. They also help reflect the light.

4. Choose out-of-the-ordinary pastels.

in her children&#8\2\17;s summer bedrooms, julie paired farrow & ball& 12
Above: In her children’s summer bedrooms, Julie paired Farrow & Ball’s lavender-gray Peignoir and minty Cromarty with other outside-the-box pastels. See more at Cape Cod Summer Bedrooms Refreshed with Farrow & Ball Paint. Photograph by Justine Hand.

Swap out ochres and browns for springlike pastels like pale pink and blue. We suggest something a little more daring, a lavender gray or minty green (or my favorite: the gray/green blue Tidewater by Martin Senour).

5. Weave some straw, sisal, or wicker into your decorative scheme.

in her book beautifully small: clever ideas for compact spaces, london interio 13
Above: In her book Beautifully Small: Clever Ideas for Compact Spaces, London interiors stylist and writer Sara Emslie conjures a summery feel with fresh florals, pretty pastels, and a smattering of woven elements.
Replace wool carpets with lightweight sisal, hang your gardening hat out in the open, and bring out the baskets.

at ard bia at nimmos, in galway, ireland, natural elements, including straw gar 14
Above: At Ard Bia at Nimmos, in Galway, Ireland, natural elements, including straw garden hats complement the plant-forward menu. See It Takes a Village: An Eclectic Irish Restaurant in Galway Gets a Refresh.

6. Simplify your storage with Shaker peg rails.

in their home in little compton, rhode island, dara and dan brewster of dara  15
Above: In their home in Little Compton, Rhode Island, Dara and Dan Brewster of Dara Artisans employed a combination of beadboard and Shaker hooks in their master bedroom. See The Brewsters at Home in Little Compton, RI. Photography by Nathan Fried Lipski of Nate Photography.

Simple hooks within easy reach are a practical choice for summer cottages and cabins; see Remodeling 101: How Shaker Peg Rails Saved My Summer Sanity.

7. Get patriotic (but use flags sparingly).

in the hallway of this white painted barn, a vintage american flag provides a b 16
Above: In the hallway of this white painted barn, a vintage American flag provides a bit of color as well as a welcome horizontal element. Photograph from Rachel Halvorson Designs.

I feel compelled to add a warning label here, because, like nautical elements, flags can get cliché very quickly. But a single oversize vintage flag adds a celebratory summer feel (just, please, don’t overdo it).

8. Employ some well-placed nautical pieces.

Summer Refresh 11 Seasonal Updates for the Home portrait 3_29
Above: On their renovated houseboat, Gabe Cohen and Jolie Signorile of Fredericks & Mae display oars and other nautical equipment. See Rehab Diary: The Ultimate Houseboat in NYC. Photography by Douglas Lyle Thompson.

Vintage sporting goods are display-worthy (in small doses). Go ahead and mount your oars on the wall of the porch where someone might actually grab them for a spin around the lake.

9. Add a bit of sun.

updated victorian, the chequit inn on shelter island, new york, strikes a vi 18
Above: Updated Victorian, the Chequit Inn on Shelter Island, New York, strikes a vintage-modern balance with black accents and a bold yellow sofa. See The Chequit Inn: A Grand Dame Reopens on Shelter Island.

Remember the buttercup under the chin trick? Everyone likes a sunny yellow in summer. Be careful not to overindulge. A single accent will do the trick. Keep it contemporary with a bit of black.

10. Roll up the red carpet.

a bare dining room floor reflects summery light from a generous window in the  19
Above: A bare dining room floor reflects summery light from a generous window in the 17th-century manse of Belgian architects Bram Seghers and Inge Buyse. Photography by Frederik Vercruysse via This Is Paper.

A summery home is all about simplicity, light, and airiness. While oriental carpets can be cozy in the winter, in the summer their ornate patterns can be too dark and busy. Consider replacing them with something more summery such as sisal or jute, which feel great under bare feet. Or simply dare to go bare.

11. Stripe it up.

izabella refreshed a dated, gilded settee from a local estate sale with the he 20
Above: Izabella refreshed a dated, gilded settee from a local estate sale with the help of several yards of striped linen fabric. See Before & After: Izabella’s Reinvented Settee, Vintage Scandinavian Fabric Included.

Lively, fresh, and fun, stripes capture the playful nature of summer. Blue or yellow is an obvious choice, or perhaps a red candy stripe, but should be used with reserve. In my summer cottage, I use vintage tea towels and grain sacks, with a just single colorful stripe, as hand towels and bath mats. For a more crisp, contemporary feel, opt for black and white or gray stripes.

For more decor strategies, see:

N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on May 15, 2017.

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