Renovation & Design

Channeling summer

Hot tips to bring sunshine indoors

Postmedia/Simply adding a few flowers can really make a room bloom to life.

Summer is right around the corner and while we may dream of weekend trips and summer getaways, it's also the time for patio parties and lazy days at home. Karen Sealy, interior designer and regular Cityline contributor, says freshening the home is a great way to greet the new season. "I always change up my home by season and I love it," she says.

Interior designers Jennifer Scott and Megan Baker, founders of A Good Chick to Know, say the impulse to bring the sunshine into our homes after a long, wet winter is natural. And it can be done with easy, budget-friendly flourishes. Here are seven ways to channel summer into our homes.

1. Repetition of colour

One of the easiest ways to make a big impact is with colour.

"The great news is there are no rules about colour anymore. The only rule I would say is repetition. Whatever you're doing, make it look purposeful by doing it several times," says Sealy.

For one client, Sealy used a vibrant palette of pinks, yellows and robin's egg blue, which she carried from the front porch and into the house, including the kitchen and living room.

The trick, she says, is to keep the big elements such as furniture, walls and kitchen cabinets neutral, allowing you to change your mood over time.

Colour, adds Sealy, doesn't need to come in big hits for big impact. You can add it through throw cushions, lamps, paintings, flowers and other decor accessories.

"Pink and yellow is really big right now -- it's spring and a very feminine palette and people are having a lot of fun with it," she says.

"But if you're doing pink and yellow, you better carry it through a few rooms so it looks purposeful. You don't have to do it in big huge hits, but you need to do it in little spurts so people know it was an intentional decision."

2. Bright whites

Summer may be all about colour, but nothing says light and fresh like airy whites.

So consider the other end of the colour spectrum with a palette of white and neutrals, say Scott and Baker.

The most dramatic impact is to start with all white walls if you don't already have them --and you don't mind the work.

Otherwise, think white linens, tea towels, throw cushions or even sheer, white window treatments. If it's in your budget, custom sofa slipcovers might also be an option.

3. Add a sisal rug

Something as simple as switching heavy fabrics for lighter ones can herald a fresh start.

Sealy, for example, is planning to trade her wool rug for a sisal one in the living room.

"You can buy (sisals) at all the big-box stores and they're really inexpensive," says Sealy.

"This year I'm going to use it in my living room, next year I might throw it in my bedroom and the year after that I might throw it onto my deck."

4. Open bar

Be ready for happy hour at the drop of a hat with a bar stocked with all your cocktail needs.

It's all about spur-of-the moment entertaining. So get your glasses, pitchers, paper umbrellas and liquor out of the cabinet and display them on an open shelf, sideboard or perhaps even a vintage bar cart.

Your open bar will encourage you to get on the phone for impromptu gatherings, Scott says.

"Summer food is always more finger food, too, so it's nice if you have those cute little bamboo plates rather than paper plates or pretty napkins," adds Baker.

5. Fresh flowers

Baker and Scott love to indulge in flowers. Just a few stems will bring a room to life after a long winter.

Choose long-lasting flowers with strong stems (so they'll hold up in a variety of vases) such as sunflowers, gerbera daisies, dahlias or even bamboo.

The designers suggest either an all-white palette or bold, saturated colours for the greatest impact.

"Hunt around for the cheapest deal," says Scott. "It's definitely a matter of doing something that's sustainable because you don't want to spend a ton of money (on a big bouquet) that, yes, you get a beautiful arrangement for a week and then for the rest of the summer you've blown the budget. You want to find a place that sources flowers and choose flowers that are a reasonable cost."

6. Rotate art

Each season, Sealy rotates the art in her home. It's a simple trick to make the old feel new again.

"People always ask, 'Oh my god, where did you get that?' Meanwhile, it was in my bedroom," she says.

If you can't afford original art, try buying postcards and art prints rather than mass-produced art from big-box stores, she suggests.

7. Consider second-hand patio furniture

Patio furniture can be pricey, so if you're not ready to invest in a dining set, for example, do it slowly. Perhaps invest in a set of chairs you love, and buy a second-hand table for now. All it needs is an appropriate coat of paint to withstand outdoor wear and you're ready to go.

"You might go to a flea market or consignment store and buy yourself a wooden table for $50. It may need a bit of TLC; you may need to sand it down and then coat it with an outdoor varnish.

"It's not going to last forever, but it'll last you a couple seasons and it's a nice eclectic look, too," says Sealy.

-- Postmedia News



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