Sweet Summery Spaces

Celebrate the season of sun by turning an unused interior space into a cool, summertime living area.

An often overlooked area is in front of a French or sliding glass door.

a room in bloom

Create a breezy, cool feeling during hot summer months with flowers and plants.

For an inexpensive, summery design theme, line up several cylindrical vases that are about 8 inches tall. Fill each with a single stem of the same flower, adding some garden greenery if desired. Place these all around the house—on windowsills, side tables, even the back of the toilet tank.

Play up an existing design by using decorations as unexpected containers for blossoms.

"If you have an Old World sensibility, put those lovely painted cups and bowls to use by employing them as vases atop floral cloths in pastel shades," suggests Jacksonville interior designer Cheryl von Tress. "A country home style would draw upon crockery and metal containers for displaying flowers and garden produce."

Combine flowers, fruits, vegetables and flora-inspired linens for a summery Tuscan villa or French chateau tableau.

Pitchers are another perfect seasonal vase—especially a cobalt blue pitcher filled with bursting colors from the garden.

If you don't have a garden, don't despair. The same look can be created using blossoms purchased at farmer's markets, produce stands and grocery stores. To economize, buy several bunches of different kinds of flowers to arrange yourself.

Finally, turn some attention to houseplants. "Trim them, getting rid of all the dead winter bits," says Ashland designer Annie McIntyre. "Then take them outside, spray them off and make them all green and shiny. Top off the soil with fresh moss or bark or whatever's best for the plant."

Adding these natural touches will freshen up the whole house for summertime.

"Creating a living space in front of a door expands the area a lot," says Annie McIntyre of McIntyre Interiors in Ashland. "You feel like the whole outdoors becomes part of the room."

Frame the interior space with an area rug; try lively stripes or a floral print for a real mood elevator. Now bring some furniture around the outside of the rug, facing the door. Cover the pieces in cotton twill or a canvas slipcover then add jewel-toned or green and blue throw pillows.

Blur the delineation between inside and outside by placing pots of flowers on both sides of the interior doors.

Once you've opened up your view, make sure what you're looking at is attractive and well-kempt. Wash windows and install screens where necessary to discourage bugs.

"Clean up your patio, get rid of old, dead leaves, keep the grass trimmed and the gardens weeded," McIntyre says. "Doing this will give your interior the soothing, fresh, delicious colors from a lush yard."

Use garden colors to inspire more fabric choices, allowing greens, blues and other cool hues to spread over tabletops and beds.

Next look to the windows.

"Summer is the season to remove heavy tapestries, brocades, jacquards and chenilles," says Cheryl von Tress of Cheryl von Tress Design, LLC in Jacksonville.

To cool things off, opt for window panels in open-weave cotton, silk, linen and flax that drape casually and allow air movement.

"For sheers, choose a white embroidered cotton variety or a tea-stained, filmy material that will cut the harsh afternoon rays," says McIntyre. "This will make a room feel cooler and fresher."

Don't neglect windowsills, which can be "brought to life with simple floral arrangements in clear or colored vases," von Tress says. The flash of color provides visual relief from the bright, hot sun in the yard beyond.

Sills are also natural stages for a summery vignette of found objects like bleached-out driftwood, collected shells and beach glass. Or choose a monochromatic approach by using items that are all white, frosted, blue or green. For a Bohemian vibe, hang fishing line strung with crystals and glass beads, which will create rainbows of light around the room.

Bring sparkle to walls with hanging vases that are designed to attract and reflect light. Nighttime sparkle happens with hanging candle holders.

"And in place of woven fabric wall hangings," von Tress says, "find art prints with water and floral themes — select images that soothe, calm and cool a space."

More settings for summer themes can include the top of a toilet tank, bathtub rim and accent tables — wherever people spend any time.

"Whether you choose to use the riot of bright, hot summer colors or you prefer the cooler shades of water and sky, think casual and breezy rather than formal and staid," guides von Tress.

Create a simple, shimmery surface by placing a branch of leaves in a tall, clear vase. "Or float leaves or flowers in a shallow bowl," she suggests.

For the final touch, add a breeze and save energy by running a small electric fan close to seating areas instead of turning down the thermostat.

Now get a tall glass of iced tea, have a seat and admire how you've let the sunshine in.

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