To quote Henry James, “Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” I couldn’t agree more. What’s better than a lazy afternoon under cerulean blue skies by the shore, in the mountains or swinging in a hammock in your garden? A warm breeze, your favorite music playing, a book on your lap… good friends and family and homemade lemonade! Not much can beat this equation for peaceful bliss.
This begs the question: is it possible to bring summer, and the calm that it engenders, into one’s home in a more meaningful way? It occurs to me that this is entirely feasible if done with a focus on the garden and the outdoors. Here are some of my favorite thoughts on how to do just that.
Give an instant lift to any space. Try wallpaper with a large leaf or floral pattern. You’ll be amazed at the results. Or use an updated English floral fabric for window treatments (like Treyes for Lee Jofa) to blur the dissolve between interior and exterior.
Paint an accent wall a fresh, verdant green. One of my favorite colors is Peppermint Leaf by Benjamin Moore. Green is one of the easiest colors for the eye to see, and brings the outdoors in. Regardless of brand, use a paint formulation with a no- or low-VOC (volatile organic compound) content.
Take a look at indoor/outdoor rugs in bold graphic patterns. Take them outdoors when the sun is shining, grouping patio furniture to create the effect of an outdoor room. Then try them inside during the off-season.
Speaking of outdoor furniture, use outdoor fabrics indoors and take them outside when weather permits. Sears has a wonderful selection of patterns and colors. You won’t have to worry about spills, children, pets or wet bathing suits.
Flowers always put a smile on my face. I like to plant perennials that can sit on a windowsill during cold months, and move them outdoors during spring and summer.
Make sure that you can walk to your windows to see the view and let the light in. Don’t block windows with large pieces of furniture or cover windows with too much fabric. Think about trying plantation shutters for a change. The shutters can be adjusted to “scoop” in the light.
Building or remodeling? Consider a wall of French or sliding doors to expand one’s view and allow in as much light as possible. Don’t forget the screens!
Summer inside and out
Divide outdoor spaces with furniture settings and shrubs in oversized containers.
Have you seen the new self-contained fireplaces that are fueled by gel cartridges or ethanol? These glass-encased flames are a safe, “green” option. They light up the dark and can be used in gardens or on a terrace or balcony. Try a grouping of three for added drama.
Low-voltage exterior lighting is another cost-efficient option. Use it to up-light trees and outdoor architectural details such as garden structures and sculpture.
Awnings come in a variety of colors and stripes and form the perfect “bridge” between indoors and out. They can be retracted when not in use and offer a shaded oasis during summer months.
Fountains can move from indoors to out and back again. Make sure to choose a recirculating fountain so as not to waste resources. The resin varieties are especially lightweight.
Music and media can move outdoors as well with indoor/outdoor televisions and music systems. So grab a bowl of popcorn, curl up in that hammock and enjoy!