Design Lesson
Jun 26, 2015

25 ways to welcome summer

By: Martha Uniacke Breen

25 ways to welcome summer Author: Style At Home

Design Lesson
Jun 26, 2015

25 ways to welcome summer

By: Martha Uniacke Breen

After a long winter and a rainy, cool spring, we can’t welcome summer into our homes soon enough. Michelle Mawby, a Toronto designer, blogger and the in-house design expert on Marilyn Denis’ new CTV show, shares 25 ways to make the most of summer’s lighter, fresher mood in your decorating.

Michelle’s warm-weather decorating philosophy revolves around a simple idea: blurring the distinction between indoors and outdoors in every way you can think of. That can range from using sisal and seagrass rugs inside to setting an ultra-elegant table for dining in the backyard. Want to know more? Here are 25 of Michelle’s summer decorating ideas.

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Image courtesy of Pottery Barn.

Indoor decor

1 Replace wool rugs with lightweight kilim, seagrass or sisal rugs, or leave your floors bare if they’re already beautiful.

2 Move your artwork around and hang it in different rooms. Sometimes all it takes is a new setting to let you see and enjoy a beautiful painting all over again.

3 Replace wool cushions with lightweight cotton and linen versions in light or bright colours and patterns.

4 Remove outer draperies and leave the sheers on your windows to let summer sunshine flood in.

5 Update your bedding with new, fresh white linens, a summer-weight duvet and an eyelet or Battenburg-lace dust ruffle. Put away your wool throws and blankets, and replace with cotton ones. 

6 Give your bathroom a seasonal feel by adding brightly coloured towels, summery-scented soaps and displays of starfish or shells in small dishes.

7 Pare down all your rooms - put away heavy displays of framed photos or accessories and leave just one or two.

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Image courtesy of Williams-Sonoma.

Table settings
8
There’s no reason you can’t use your good china, crystal or everyday indoor tableware for entertaining outside - it makes for a much more elegant table than melamine and acrylic. Complete the setting with linen napkins and a table runner or tablecloth.

9 To complete an elegant table setting, use candelabras, hurricane lamps or candleholders with votive candles inside.

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Image courtesy of West Elm.

Outdoor furniture

10 Instead of a standard patio table, buy an elegant dining table (new or tag sale) for your patio. Coat it with transparent marine varnish or epoxy to protect it from the elements.

11 Fabrics designed for outdoor use have gone upscale in recent years. High-end houses like Robert Allen, Schumacher and Lee Jofa all have new collections designed for outdoor furniture, cushions and “draperies” such as cabana curtains.

12 Revive tired metal furniture with rust paint, which is easy to use and comes in a rainbow of cheerful, summery colours - the Tremclad brand has even started offering custom colours.

13 Wicker furniture can be rejuvenated with a gentle scrub, using dish soap and water. Apply a new coat of paint using a spray can or by brush and it’ll look brand new.

14 Rub tung oil on fine outdoor wood furniture, such as teak, to clean and revive its look.

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Photograhy courtesy of IKEA

Lighting

15 Mood lighting sets off a night garden beautifully. Install uplights in trees and use solar or electric garden lights along paths or in flowerbeds for atmosphere.

16 String lights add a fairytale feeling outdoors. You can get all kinds of novelty shapes nowadays, from chili peppers to dragonflies. String them along the fence or in shrubs, or wrap lengths of plain white or cream coloured ones around tree trunks, restaurant-style.

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Chinese lanterns are a longstanding patio favourite. You can buy plastic ones wired with LEDs that are safer and much more durable than the classic rice-paper and votive candle versions.

18 You can even buy table lamps designed for use outdoors, that are pretty enough for indoor use and use LED bulbs.

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Photography courtesy of Pottery Barn

Flowers & fragrance
19 Just as you can move the indoors out, anything that brings the outdoors in can inspire a summery feeling. Start with lots of fresh flowers from your garden or the corner store.

20 Nothing stimulates the senses like scent. Place warm-weather scents around your home, including sandalwood, lily of the valley, roses, and summer fragrance blends such as rain or linen.

21 Finish by sprucing up the front of your house - plant front door urns or planters with summer flowers, such as geraniums or bushy, healthy-looking ferns. Also, try hanging colourful planters of fuchsia or petunias for an added pop of colour - you can find affordable planters at the corner store.

Other summer decorating ideas
22 You can buy outdoor rugs that are much nicer than the old Astroturf or scratchy jute rugs of yore. Instead, Michelle puts down a sturdy cowhide rug for parties that can stand up well to summer weather and dirt.

23 If you have a rear porch, hang cotton, linen or canvas curtains on the sides to create a sheltered “room.” If you don’t want to have them custom-made, buy ready-made from a home store. Hang them on curtain rods suspended from the eaves using oversize rings.

24 For a time-honoured way to add a nostalgic, summer-cottage mood, create displays of natural objects, such as seashells, coral, pine cones, or driftwood picked up from the beach.

25 Paint your front door a new colour. This relatively small job can pay big dividends by making your whole exterior look cared for and pretty.

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Design Lesson

25 ways to welcome summer