Design lesson: Bring on the sun
Kimberley's guide to summer style
Summer style has a relaxed, carefree attitude; its casual veneer conceals the hard-working materials and furnishings that make it low maintenance. Give your home that laid-back cottagey feel year-round with these light touches.
Flooring has to be quietly purposeful, easy to care for and able to withstand wear and tear. Varnished hardwood like maple requires little maintenance. Ceramic and stone tile (paired with rush matting, coir, sisal or, my favourite, seagrass), linoleum and sealed cork are all suitable flooring options.
Furniture that's simple and unpretentious -- locally made or comfortably worn in -- is a good choice. Look for items where detail carving is either kept to a minimum or loose in style.
Painted wood furnishings in mint, coral, icy blue, shell pink or sand are refreshing. White is in a category of its own -- a variety of shades can be used to decorate your entire home.
Wicker armchairs, settees and tables -- sometimes painted in crisp white or in more natural honey tones -- capture summer's easygoing spirit.
Patterned textiles like faded florals, ticking and cabana stripes, playful plaids, crisp checks and pictorial cottons and linens lighten up a room.
Dos and don'ts of sunny interiors
DO ensure that your windows are clean inside and out, and that your hedges and other greenery have been trimmed. If your windows can't accommodate wash-from-within methods, make outdoor cleaning a weekend project or hire a professional company. To facilitate future cleaning, install windows that rotate inward, which are available from window manufacturers.
DO choose window treatments that let in light. When pulled aside with a tieback or hanging in straight panels at window sides, full draperies needn't interfere with sunlight filtering in. Sheer fabric provides a modest amount of privacy; warm pale colours help enliven the grey light of drizzly days.
DON'T paint windowsills and surrounds dark colours, which absorb light. Instead, opt for light-reflecting colours like ivory, cream and white.
DON'T choose dark colours for the walls of rooms used during the day. To paraphrase interior design legend Eleanor McMillen Brown, every room needs a touch of yellow. Good advice if you love the idea of sunshine indoors. Any warm, pale colour will give you the desired result.
DO include reflective materials like chrome, nickel, brass, silver, crystal and glass, which bounce light into a room. Mirrors, a designer's not-so-secret weapon in the fight to expand space, are a really great option. Pick tiles with a shiny surface for a kitchen backsplash or bathroom shower surround.
DON'T use an abundance of patterns. As a general rule, patterns absorb more light than solid fabrics.