Oh, these lazy, hazy days of summer. It's time to kick back and let the great outdoors perform its magic. I have a mental alarm that goes off at the beginning of July, to remind me to simplify all things home-related, turn a blind eye to all but the most basic housework and take the time to savor the summer.
Here’s a check list that will point you in the right direction for a beautiful, hassle-free few months.
Simplicity in decorating leads the way. Pack up all the heavy blankets and carpets, clear table surfaces, declutter as much as possible. Your rooms need to breathe, and so do you. By editing down the cool-weather furnishings and accessories, the overflowing bookshelves and stuffed closets, you will notice that your home has a weightless air about it that is very freeing.
Window treatments are an integral part of your summer decor. White and lightweight fabrics float at the window. Check out the new looks in sheers and blinds, such as the Hunter Douglas Silhouette Shades or their Duette Duolite series (shown here). They offer UV protection, block out heat transfer, and have a modern design that suits any style.
White is a summer staple inside and out, always fresh and cool.
Introduce as much white as you can; it’s bright and lightweight at the windows, as slipcovers for a couch or chairs, and layered on the bed.
Add a few shots of hot-climate bold pastels – turquoise, orange, lime green and lemon yellow are fun and youthful. Some throw pillows, an area rug or some vases for your summer bouquets in these shades will lift your rooms and contribute a zesty holiday feeling.
No-fuss melamine dishes are back in favor. Invest in some of this colorful picnicware; not only practical for outdoor dining, but fun for a rainy day inside, too.
There is no surface or room that flowers won’t improve. Cut a bouquet of fat blossoms for the living and dining rooms, a solitary stem beside the bed, a jar of fresh herbs on the kitchen counter. Their colors, shapes and scents infuse your days with seasonal style.
Dear Debbie: We live in a low-rise concrete building. Our condominium has an interesting architectural design with a curved wall and sunken living room. My problem is the ceiling, which has concrete beams and those awful 2-foot-by-4-foot foam panels divided with metal spacers – usually seen in commercial spaces. We are planning a kitchen renovation, and we’d like to do something about the ceiling. What are our options? – Debra and Oliver
Dear Debra and Oliver: One option is to build a new ceiling with drywall, and then simply paint it. But why not discover the variety of ceiling panels that are available now at your local building store or on the Net (search words ceiling panels)? You’ll find a style that suits both modern and traditional residences. One good source is www.armstrong.com. There are the popular paintable tin-look tiles in different patterns. These will create a historic ambiance.
Wood planks and panels in light and dark shades will work well in a modern setting. I would keep the concrete beams visible, as they are part of the building’s interior architecture. You may have to replace the existing grid to fit whichever panels or tiles you choose.
Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.tritter.com/debbie_travis. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.