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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Replace wool carpets with lightweight sisal, hang your gardening hat out in the open, and bring out the baskets.
6. Simplify your storage with Shaker peg rails.
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).
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
- 11 Tips for Making a Room Look Bigger
- Expert Advice: 8 Tips for Decorating Like a Frenchwoman
- 12 Tips for Making a Small Bedroom Look Bigger
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on May 15, 2017.